Tweet “Marlena? Marlena, are you awake?”
Trudie stuck her head around the bedroom door. The great Marlena Blake lay on the floor, staring at the ceiling. Trudie groaned; Marlena held an empty whiskey bottle to her chest. She cradled it as you might cradle an infant.
“Ssssssh! ‘M thinkin'.”
“What are you thinking about, Marlena?”
“Argh! Never call me Marlena! ‘Snot my name.”
“Alright then...what are you thinking about, Jane?”
“Am not Jane! Not been Jane fer years...” Marlena trailed off, entranced by the play of afternoon light through the chandelier.
“Um...whoever you are...you need to start getting ready, you’ve got a TV appearance this evening,” said Trudie.
“You have to be at the studio by 6 at the latest.”
“Bah, ‘sonly 4pm, loadsa time.”
“You only just got up.”
Marlena snorted. She tossed the bottle across the floor and rolled over onto her stomach. Trudie’s maternal streak screamed as she watched Marlena pull herself onto the bed. The actress gazed across the room, last night’s makeup still plastered to her face. The smouldering screen siren looked more like a burnt-out wreck.
“Ya know what my favouritest thing is in th' whole world?” asked Marlena.
Marlena leaned across to her nightstand. Her hand fumbled about, grasping for a 6” tall figurine. Trudie crossed the room to sit beside Marlena. The actress turned the figurine over in her fingers. The slender shepherdess beamed a winsome smile, one hand wrapped around her crook. Porcelain sheep gathered behind her flowing skirts. Yellow hair fanned out beneath her cornflower blue headscarf.
“I used to be blonde,” said Marlena. She twirled a lock of black hair around her finger.
“Really? I can’t picture you blonde,” said Trudie.
“Yeah...had hair this colour,” said Marlena. She pointed at the figurine’s hair, and remembered when she tossed back her blonde hair in the midwestern sunshine.
“What made you dye it? Just fancied a change?”
“No...the networks said I was too all-American. Wouldn’t even let me audition. Only ever did one role. Got to be a cheerleader in a stupid comedy. Dyed my hair black and started wearing green lenses and started getting jobs. ‘Swhen I changed my name.”
Tears welled in Marlena’s reddened eyes. Trudie patted her arm, unsure what to say. Marlena stared at the figurine.
“It’s lovely,” said Trudie.
“My first boyfriend got it for me. So I wouldn’t forget the farm. “
“The farm we were gonna have. He wanted a farm but I wanted to act, so here I am.”
Marlena fumbled to push the figurine back onto the nightstand. The shepherdess slipped from her grasp, and hit Marlena’s empty glass on the floor. She yelped when the figurine shattered.
Marlena pulled herself upright and picked up the porcelain shards. The pieces wouldn’t fit together. Her fingers trembled as she traced the unadorned inner surface of the figurine. Boring and plain - so different from the outside. Marlena never realised the figurine was hollow, that nothing but air filled her favourite ornament.
“Oh no! Marlena, give it to me, maybe I can fix it...” said Trudie.
“Naw...’sbroken,” replied Marlena. A single tear rolled down her cheek.
Marlena stumbled across the room to the waste paper basket. Trash flowed out onto the floor. She tried to make a mental note to fire someone. The voice of Jack Daniels cooed in her ear, and she forgot the cleaner.
Marlena dropped the remains of the figurine into the basket, a shard of yellow hair sliding beneath old cigarette butts and whiskey bottles.