A short story written by Siobahn Harris 8/19/2018
-Live Stream Day-
“Are you really going to do another live stream today?” Cole’s shoulders dropped, and his head fell to one side. His large brown eyes soaked in concern.
“Baby, what are you so worried about? I do these videos all the time.”
Cole grabbed Bethany’s shoulders, locking eyes with her, “Normally you do one live stream a month, now you’re going to do 11! That’s a huge jump!”
Bethany pulled away and started setting up the desk in her office. She clicked on the large bright light fixed over her camera, and turned to Cole, “I made a promise to my fans. What’s the big deal?”
“The big deal is that you tell them way too much information about your personal life. Beth, I hate this. Can’t we just focus on us today?”
Bethany turned back to her computer and began signing in, “Cole, my stream is going to start any minute now,” she gestured towards the screen, “look, my room is already filling up. I made a promise.”
“Whatever.” Cole turned and walked into the kitchen.
With a sigh Bethany turned on her camera. She corrected the angle and the adjusted the light. Her mouse hovered over the large purple “Vid Now!” button in the middle of the screen. She looked into the camera with a smile as she clicked.
“Hello everyone and welcome to my NowVids channel Living with Beth! I want to start by thanking all of you for helping me hit the 1 million subscribers mark! We did it you guys!! It took a long time, but we finally made it! As promised, now that we hit that many subs, I’ll start doing more live streams! That means instead of just one live stream a month, you’ll get 11! That’s a whole lot of me, but that’s what you all wanted so here I am!”
Bethany sat at an old wooden desk in a small office space. The room around her was decorated with photos of her friends and family and awards she earned from her stream. Her long brown hair lay down her back and her green eyes seemed to sparkle in the sunlight from the window over her computer. Behind her was an open door that looked into her kitchen, where her boyfriend Cole was sat at the table on his phone. Bethany often used the camera angle to stare at him while he was in there.
Her eyes locked onto a chat box underneath her video. Her eyes narrowed and a smile crossed her face as she began to read the comments flowing in.
Andrew D.: your sohot
Sidney J.: Yay more streams! How old are you?
Sara J.: is that Cole back there? Hi Cole!
Josh T.: take off your top
Edwin O.: What are you doing today
Marcus D: <3 <3
Lucy F: Where are you from?
Amanda A: I love your hair!!
Heather G: new here, nice to meet you
Carrie L: She is not going to take off her top! Guys are such morons
Her eyes snapped back to the small round camera posted above her computer, “So, today is more of a question and answer day. This is just where we chat back and forth, however, tomorrow I will be recording a new video for you guys and it will be posted the next day. Yes, that is Cole back there, he likes to just sit at the table, but honestly,” Bethany dropped her voice to a whisper and leaned into the camera, “I think he does it just to remind the male fans that I have a boyfriend.”
Her eyes locked back onto the chat window and then quickly back to the camera, “I’m 25 years old and I live in Florida. It is so nice to meet all of you! I used to live in Connecticut with my family, but Cole and I just moved down here. He was able to find an apartment just across town from me.”
Cole’s head snapped towards Bethany. His face twisted into a scowl. He quickly stood up from the table he made his way into the living room, outside of the camera view.
Bethany’s eyes scrambled to find someone to respond to in the chat.
Mike R: You two live together?
Patrick Q: do you like the new town?
Heather G: that’s cool
Amanda A: she just said that they don’t live together.
Samantha H: what’s tomorrow video about?
Marcus D: I live in Florida too
Bethany grabbed her hair and twisted it around her hand then let it go over one shoulder, “I do like the town! There is this little shop down the street from my house, like a little market. It’s cute. It’s like an Asian market so you can get all the fun funky snacks! I think it’s called Rose’s Market. So cute! Tomorrow, I will be doing an errand video! I’ll take you all with me while I hit the gym, grab some food, and buy a new outfit.”
She read the chat box again and a knot tightened in Bethany’s stomach.
Marcus D: I know that shop. I know where you live.
She pushed to ignore it as she changed the discussion to her hair.
“No, I don’t dye it, this is my natural color. I just try not to over brush it and I think that’s why it looks so healthy.”
The chat room started to blow up. The comments were flying up the screen faster than Bethany could read them, “Whoa, so many people in here! Sorry if I miss your questions.”
Her eyes scanned the screen and locked onto another comment that made her feel sick.
Marcus D: I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. WE SHOULD HANG OUT.
She moved past the comment and pushed through the rest of her stream, which went on for another three hours.
Bethany turned off her camera and light then she made her way into the large living room where Cole was napping on a robust green sofa. She always loved how he tied his sandy blond hair back into a bun. Her eyes washed over his muscular body as she began to smile. Leaning down next to the sofa, she softly rocked his arm back and forth.
“Cole. Baby wake up.”
Cole slowly opened his eyes and flashed her a smile, “All done?”
“Yes, but it got a little weird,” she stood up next to the sofa.
“How do you mean?”
“There was this guy in the room, Marcus. Said some weird stuff.” Bethany sat down on the short wooden coffee table behind her.
Propped up on his elbows, Cole’s voice grew a little louder, “Like what, Beth?”
“Like… ‘I know where you live’ blah blah..”
“What the hell, Bethany!”
Bethany stood up and walked into the kitchen, “Don’t get all upset, Cole.”
Cole jumped to his feet and followed her into the kitchen, “Don’t get upset? You have a fucking stalker! I told you not to do those videos! I’m staying over for a few days.”
“No, you’re not, Cole! It’s not that big of a deal. Think of it this way, I made it! Only those who are really famous get stalkers, and now I’ve got one! I’m famous, baby!” Bethany plastered on a huge cheesy smile.
Cole just stared at her. He snatched his keys off the tiny square table that stood in the kitchen and walked out the back door behind him.
Bethany set up her camera on the dashboard of her car. Her little black four door was only a few years old. The back bumper still housed a large dent from where she backed into a stop sign trying to make a three-point turn in the middle of the road. That day, anytime she got into her car she turned on her camera, recording herself and the road behind her as she didn’t want her fans to miss anything.
“Hey everyone! Thanks for coming with me today! I just have a few things to do today but it is going to be a lot more fun with you all here with me! First stop, the gym!”
Bethany got to the gym and changed into skin tight pants that were hot pink and blue, a pink sports bra, and pink sneakers. She walked out of the locker room and grabbed some free weights from the strength training section and carried them into a large room with a wooden floor. There was a large mirror that stretched along one of the walls. Bethany set her camera up in front of the mirror and began recording. She did five squats, five bicep curls, a few yoga positions, and then recorded herself on the ground looking exhausted.
Bethany changed back into her normal clothes, a pair of jean shorts with a pale blue button up shirt that was tucked into the front of the shorts but hung loose in the back. She made her way to the smoothie bar by the front door of the gym and ordered a banana blueberry smoothie.
Back in her car, “Woo! So, I just got my smoothie after finishing up an hour-long workout! So worth it! Now we are heading to buy some clothes! I love seeing what funky things I can find at thrift stores, so we are going to one of my favorites.”
In the thrift store dressing room Bethany sat her camera up on the small red chair that was in the corner of the room and tried on a blue 1970s dress with lace on the shoulders and a tie around the waist. She spun for the camera, smiled and gave a thumbs up. She then tried on a pair of bedazzled jeans, and once again flashed a thumbs up.
On her way out the door the woman behind the counter asked, “How did they fit? Did you like them?”
Bethany handed the woman the two items, “No they didn’t fit. Thanks for letting me try them on though!”
Bethany was sitting back in her car and once again spoke to the dashboard camera, “Great finds! I can’t wait to get them washed up, so I can show them to Cole! Okay, now I just need to pick up some tofu and bread. Off we go!”
Bethany went to Rose’s Market. Inside she grabbed a small cart, so she could set up her camera on it. She walked around and showed her fans some of the items she bought in the past. Bethany found the items she was looking for and headed towards the exit. This time she even recorded herself checking out. Once she was back in her car she spoke to the camera, “What a day! Thanks for riding along with me! I’ll see you soon!”
Bethany was startled awake by Cole dragging her out of bed.
“Come on babe! Today we are going to spend the whole day together, just you and me!” Cole danced in front of a zombie like Bethany. She rubbed her eyes and sat back down on the bed.
“Wait. What’s happening?” Bethany tried to get her eyes to focus on Cole’s face, but he was just a bouncing blur.
Cole grabbed her hand and pulled at her arm, “No, don’t sit back down! You’ve been working so much on your videos that I figured today we could hang out and explore the town.”
“Cole, I can’t.”
“What? Why not?”
“Because sweetie, I have to edit the video I shot yesterday and get it posted.” Bethany could feel her body tense up as she waited for his response.
Cole took a step back, “Are you kidding me? The videos, again?”
Bethany flopped back on the bed, “Look, Cole, I-”
“No! I don’t want to hear it! It’s always the videos with you!”
She sat up quickly, “Yes, it is! I am trying to build a career here! Do you know how much money I could make if this takes off?”
“I don’t care about the money? And I don’t see why you care! Your parents are paying for everything for you! This house, your bills, food!”
“They are just helping until this takes off! They actually believe in me!”
Cole paced back and forth, “What the hell does that mean? You think I don’t support you? Bethany, I wanted to move in with you! I want to take care of you! You won’t even let me in! You-” Cole stopped himself. “Forget it.” he turned and walked out, slamming the door behind him.
Bethany tried to give all her attention to editing the video from the day before, but all she could think about was Cole. She couldn’t believe that he would get so mad knowing she has been creating videos for the last two years. She thought about the things he said and the things he didn’t. Bethany dropped her head into her hands and let out a loud sigh. She rushed through the rest of the editing, skipping the re-watch, and just posted it.
Hours later Bethany heard the buzzing of her cellphone on the sofa. Her eyes glanced at the screen, Audrey.
“Audrey! Hey sweetie!!”
“Hey movie star! I just watched the video you posted this morning.” Audrey’s voice always had a peppiness to it, but that night it sounded different.
“Did you like it?”
“Yeah, of course! I always love your videos, it’s just-”
“Was there something wrong with it? I might have rushed through it, can you tell?” Bethany sat on the sofa and dropped her head back.
“No, you did nothing wrong. Well, except lying about going to the gym! I know you didn’t do an hour workout! You couldn’t even walk up a steep hill without complaining when you lived here.” Audrey laughed cutting through the quiet of Bethany’s living room.
“Oh, shut up! So, if I did nothing wrong, what’s going on?”
“Beth, did you watch the video?”
“That’s what I thought, there’s a-” Audrey paused and sighed, “well, a man. In all of your shots.”
Bethany sat up, her eyes danced around the white wall across the living room, “What? A man? Like a cashier?”
“No. You need to watch the video, and call Cole.”
“Okay, thanks. I’ll talk to you later” she hung up the phone, Bethany’s stomach began to churn. She thought to herself, what could she mean, a man, I was all over the place, there were men everywhere.
She walked into her office and opened the edited video. Watching over it the first time, she didn’t really notice anything out of the blue. Half way into the second watch, she saw him, and after that she couldn’t unsee him. Bethany’s eyes widened as she watched the video for a third time. He was driving behind her. At the gym. In the parking lot. At the thrift store. Behind her in line at the market. He was everywhere. She watched the video again and then noticed that he wasn’t just around her, he was watching her, in the gym he was just outside the room, in the thrift store she could see his shoes under the dressing room door, at the store he followed her from aisle to aisle.
Bethany picked up her phone and called Cole. Her hands were shaking as she tried to press his speed dial.
“Baby,” Her voice cracked.
“Beth? Are you okay?”
“Um, do you remember that guy from the chat?”
“The stalker? How could I forget.”
“Well, I saw him.”
“What?! Beth! Is he there?”
“No, baby! No. Audrey just called, and she saw someone following me on the new video. I watched it, I think it’s him.”
“Hang on, I’m going to watch it.”
A silence took over as Cole worked on his end to see the video. Suddenly Bethany could hear her video playing and the sickness grew in her stomach again as if she were watching it for a fifth time.
“I see him! Just sit tight, baby. Lock the doors. I’m coming over!”
Bethany stood in her living room, she stared down at the cellphone in her hand. Relief washed over her knowing that Cole was going to spend the night. She took a deep breath and remembered what he said, Lock the doors.
Bethany’s stomach suddenly felt like it was in knots. She didn’t know why. Then she heard a shuffle through the deafening silence. She leaned to the side, slowly looking into her kitchen. Her eyes zeroed in on the kitchen window above her sink, the blinds were open. It sounded like it was right outside the window. She made her way into the kitchen dragging her reluctant feet the whole way.
Standing at the kitchen sink, her eyes frantically searched her back yard now shrouded in darkness. Nothing. There was nothing out there.
Bethany let out a sigh as she spun around but she was stopped in her tracks, she let out a gasp, it was him but not like before where he was hiding behind a screen name or sneaking around in one of her videos, this time he was standing in her kitchen, towering over her, his slender body draped in baggy clothes, she began to breathe fast and was overwhelmed by a smell of old onions, looking up at him, his eyes were shielded by his shaggy greasy hair, Bethany let out an unearthly scream that painted the man’s face with fear.
He quickly grabbed her by the shoulders, “No! No! It’s me! From the chatroom, remember?”
Bethany wiggled free and ran to her bedroom and into the closet. With her feet pressed up against the back of the closet door, she dials 9-1-1.
Cole sped down the street as fast as he could. Driving up he could saw red and blue lights filling the neighborhood. A few of Bethany’s neighbors stood outside looking towards her house. Cole parked his car and ran up to Bethany who was standing in her driveway with tears rushing down her cheeks.
With his arms wrapped around her he asked, “What happened?”
Bethany just said, “It was him.”
The police cars drove away into the night, with Marcus D. in tow. Bethany and Cole made their way inside the house.
In the bedroom Cole started to yell, “Bethany! This is the exact reason I should be living with you! Why are you fighting this?”
Bethany scoffed, “It really didn’t matter what happened, you would always find some ‘great’ excuse to live with me.”
Cole made his way over to her bed and sat down, “Well, at least I know this will slow down the videos.”
Confusion washed over Bethany, “Why is that exactly?”
“Well, come on, babe. It was your video streaming that brought you a stalker. You’re not seriously considering continuing with this, are you?”
“Cole, what happened tonight was terrifying, but do you know how many hits I’m going to get with this story?!”
Cole plopped back onto her bed and slid off onto the floor letting out a loud moan. He quickly jumped to his feet, “Hits? Really? You just had a stranger track you down and sneak into your house and you are excited about the hits it will bring in?”
“I know you don’t get it! But this is gold! Not only will I be able to grab a lot of viewers for my live streams, but so many people are going to want to watch the video with him stalking me!”
“You’re right Beth! I don’t get it! You won’t let me live with you, we have been together for three years and I am not allowed to live with you! However, your video channel Living with Beth, allows a bunch of strangers to know you more than I do and its like they live with you! That’s not fair!”
Bethany grabbed Cole’s hand, “Don’t be like that baby.”
Cole quickly snatched his hand away, “Be like what? That is not fair!”
Bethany tried to grab Cole’s hands again, but he pulled away before she could even touch him. He looked at her and with a sigh said, “Let’s just drop it, okay?” Cole made his way to Bethany’s bed, kicked off his shoes and crawled under the covers. Bethany just stood at the end of the bed looking at him. Her heart sunk at the thought that he would be this upset. She crawled into bed and tried to snuggle but Cole pulled away. She clicked off the side table light and they fell asleep.
-Live Stream Day-
Bethany and Cole woke up around the same time, but they both refused to speak. A silence flooded the house as they made their way to kitchen, doing their best to avoid eye contact. Sitting down at the kitchen table, Bethany grabbed a banana and looked at Cole who was looking in the fridge.
“What are your plans for the day?” her voice shattered the quiet.
With a cold stare, Cole looked up from the fridge, a sarcastic tone plagued his voice, “I was planning on staying here to keep you safe from the perverts you’re enticing with your videos. And you?”
Bethany grew quiet and almost whispered, “It’s the day after edits.”
Cole leaned onto the table, “It’s what now?”
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, looked back at him she said, “It’s the day after edits, which means that it’s live stream day.”
Cole slammed the door to the fridge knocking down the cereal boxes that sat on top of it. He walked into the bedroom behind Bethany and slammed the door. She jumped at the sound but then began getting ready for her stream.
Sitting down at her desk, Bethany clicked the “Vid Now!” button.
“Hey again everyone! You will never believe what happened to me!! I have this crazy story to tell you, but I want to wait until the room fills up a bit more. You guys are going to go nuts when you hear it. Oh, before I forget, I want to welcome you all to my NowVids channel Living with Beth! Don’t forget to subscribe for more videos and live streams!”
Bethany’s eyes glossed over the chat box.
Amanda A.: Hey, again! I want to hear the story!
Lucy F.: Girl, u look tired
Heather G.: There’s a grumpy man in your kitchen
Edwin O.: you don’t look tired, you look beautiful
Britney N.: I love your videos!
John T.: tell us the story
Bethany combed her hair with her fingers as her eyes moved from the chat box to the camera, “Don’t worry, I will tell you the story,” Bethany glanced behind her and saw Cole in the kitchen cutting up some vegetables, “Yeah, he is grumpy, that’s Cole. We just had a big fight last night. Just ignore him. Though the fight isn’t the story!”
Cole turned to face Bethany’s office, “Hey, could you come here please?”
Bethany looked into the camera and rolled her eyes letting out a little giggle before calling back, “I’m doing my live stream right now, Cole.”
“Please just come here.”
Bethany stood up and adjusted the camera to face more toward the kitchen. She whispered into the small mic, “Enjoy.”
In the kitchen Bethany found Cole just standing at the counter waiting for her.
Cole began yelling at her, “Why do they have to know everything?!”
Bethany spoke in very hushed tones, “They don’t, but I told you they will want to know the story about yesterday.”
“They didn’t need to hear about our fight! Are you trying to push me away?!” Cole’s face turned red with anger.
Bethany began speaking in a normal voice, “You honestly think I want to push you away? Cole, what do you want from me?”
“I want to live with you! I want the opportunity to protect you when needed! I want you to need me!”
Bethany snapped back, “Well I don’t need anyone! I can protect myself! Did you ever stop to ask yourself why I want to live alone?! I am trying to gain some independence!”
Cole laughed, “Independence? Sweetie, you don’t pay for anything!! Your rich daddy covers you!”
Bethany shoved him to stop his laughing. Cole leaned into her, locking eyes, “I didn’t want to move here. You insisted. You asked me to move with you. I did and when we get here you forced me to get my own apartment. You tricked me into leaving everything for you,” Cole dropped his voice to a whisper, “and you know what, I’m not even sure why I have been sticking around, you push me away, your videos are more important, hell, you don’t even give good head-”
Bethany’s hand instinctively snapped up and slapped Cole across the face. Cole quickly turned back to her, his clenched fist slammed into her cheek, her body hitting the floor with a thud.
Cole dropped to one knee next to her and pointed a knife at her face, “You really fucked things up now, bitch.”
Bethany’s eyes widened, and she began to sweat. Tears rolled down her face as she scrambled to her feet in an attempt to get to her bedroom. Cole grabbed her arm and pulled her back, his hand slapped across her face, snapping her body back down to the floor. Her whole body shook as she looked up, she could see that her live stream was still going, the chat box was flying faster than she had ever seen before. She jumped up and ran to the office, on the screen she could see her left eye was already purple and swollen, and Cole’s hand print was left on her right cheek. Looking at the chat box she saw:
Kimmy N.: WTF! Is this real?!
Heather G.: I’m calling 911!!
Carrie L.: Call the cops!
Sidney J.: this is fake, it’s a show you guys
Mike R.: RUN! RUN! RUN!
Amanda A.: OMFG!! Fuck that guy!
Sara J.: I called the cops!
Bethany looked into the camera, “Please help me! Tell the cops I live at 419 Coquina-”
Behind her Cole grabbed her forehead and stretched her head backwards, pressing her body against his. Cole looked at the camera, “Look, Bethany! We’re online! We’re stars!”
Tears streamed down Bethany’s face, with her eyes locked onto the camera she let out a whisper, “Help.”
Cole pressed his lips against her ear, “They can’t help you,” he pushed her over the desk leaning her closer to the camera, “Smile baby,” Cole pressed a large kitchen knife up to Bethany’s neck, “it’s the final curtain” he quickly slid the knife across her throat and released a spray of dark red blood. The blood slowly dripped down the camera coating the screen in an eerie red filter. Cole dropped Bethany’s lifeless body onto the ground, and he slowly made his way out of her house.
Heather G.: Someone please tell me that was fake!
Edwin O.: HE JUST KILLED HER!!!!!!!
Sidney J.: OMFG!!!
Lucy F.: HE IS GETTING AWAY!
Mike R.: It’s all on camera!
Amanda A.: Was that real? That had to be fake right?
James S.: Hey Beth! I’m late, what’s up with the screen?
Sara J.: Her boyfriend just killed her!
Kimmy N.: What do we do?
Britney N.: I can’t believe that just happened