“Hey, sweetie, I know this is tough for you but I’m really proud of you for pulling through.”
My headphones were in while I stepped out of the car. I flipped my hair, then put my black sunglasses on. I didn’t realize how sunny it was here. I grabbed my suitcase and rolled it inside the hotel. I heard my mom calling my name in the distance, but I ignored it. I was too into my music to turn around and talk to her. I was listening to Calvin Harris, his new single, “Outside” feat. Ellie Goulding. I walked into the hotel and waited in the lobby for my mom. I sat down and took out my headphones. My mom came in carrying a bunch of my bags. I wanted to help her, but the hotel guy seemed to have it under control. When she came over she put down the bags and got a cart.
“You know, Hallie, it wouldn’t hurt if you helped a little,” she said to me.
I stood up and started helping her. If you don’t understand what’s going on right now, I’ll tell you.
Me and my family lived in Nashville for 16 years, but my parents got divorced last month, so my dad stayed in Nashville with my older sister, Emily, who is 18, and me and my mom packed our bags and moved to Los Angeles, California. I didn’t choose to move, it actually wasn’t my choice at all. I didn’t have a say in it. I didn’t mind leaving my dad, he was always kind of mean to me and my mom. He hit me sometimes. It was Emily that I had trouble leaving. She was not only my sister, but she was my best friend. We did everything together and we told each other all of our secrets. We had a really hard time saying goodbye. But enough about that, it’s going to make me cry. My name is Hallie. I’m 16 years old and I love producing music. My hobby’s are making music and DJing. when I left Nashville I brought all my equipment with me, oh, and my cat, Dibbles. Dibbles and Emily were the only things I really had in Nashville, I didn’t have a lot of friends, I was very independent. I spent most of my time locked in my room making Music. So in a way moving to LA wouldn’t be such a bad thing, new friends, a new start. It would also be a good break from everything. I love Emily, but she was such a goody-two-shoes. That’s why my dad never hit her, because she was perfect. Every little thing about her. I have light brown hair with blonde highlights, it’s up to my shoulders, I have side bangs, they don’t really show, but it’s okay. I like it.
Me and my mom went up the elevator to our room, we would be staying here a while until we can afford a real place. When we got to our room, I started unpacking. My mom came up to me, “Hey, sweetie, I know this is tough for you but I’m really proud of you for pulling through.”
“No problem mom, anything for you.” I said.
“Oh, sweetie, you’re the best.”
I smiled and put Dibbles on the floor so he could stretch. I put my clothes into drawers and put my DJ equipment on my bed. I went into the bathroom to check on my mom, and she was fixing her hair.
“Sweetie, remember tomorrow is your first day of Brookstone,” she said to me. Brookstone was the new school I would be going to. I nodded and hugged my mom. She really was the best.
“I love you, mom” I said.
“Aw, sweetie, I love you too. So, so, much.”
My mom was my hero. She was always there for me. I loved her so much, when I was younger we had our occasional fights, but they usually only lasted for five minutes, then we would hug it out and say we loved each other, we don’t have a bad relationship, and we don’t have a perfect one either, we have one that would last through the good and the bad times, and I loved that about us. Her name is Julia, she’s 38-years-old, I know, pretty young, her and my dad had kids early.
The next morning I had to wake up at 6:50 a.m., because Brookstone was very far from the hotel. My mom wasn’t up yet so I decided I would surprise her with some breakfast in bed, she was going through a really hard month and I knew she was stressed out, so I went into the lobby in my PJs with Dibbles in my arm. I went inside the coffee shop and bought two Caramel Lattes (her favorite) and two Scones (also her favorite). I saw people staring at me- they thought I was some kind of freak because I was in Pajamas and holding a cat in my arms. I didn’t care, though, I was used to it. In Nashville people would make fun of me all the time for the way I looked. You should’ve seen me, I looked like a freak, seriously though, when I was 12 I dyed my hair pink and chopped most of it off. I know. Freak.
I went back to the room and woke my mom up, it was now 7:15. She woke up and smiled when she saw the Caramel Lattes, I told you those were her favorites. My mom is very pretty, she has dark curly brown hair that goes all the way to her ribcage. She sat up and grabbed the Latte out of my hand. We both laughed. I put Dibbles on her lap and grabbed clothes from the drawer, I changed into my outfit. I was wearing a plain white crop top and long black overalls, my signature black sunglasses, and my beige suede wedges. I walked out of the bathroom. My mom saw me and was paralyzed.
“Is something wrong?” I asked.
“Not at all, you just look so beautiful,” she answered. I smiled at her. I checked my phone, it was now 7:27, I had 3 minutes before I had to go. I grabbed my backpack and hugged Dibbles goodbye, I didn’t want to leave her. I haven’t left her alone in 3 months.
“Don’t give mama so much trouble, be good, Dibbs.” I kissed her forehead. then I hugged my mom so tight I could hear her heart beating.
“I’m gonna miss you, mama” I said.
“Oh, honey, I’m gonna miss you too. But trust me, you are going to kick Brookstone’s butt.”
I laughed. I let go of her and took a deep breath. I stood up from the bed and said goodbye one last time, then I walked out the door, (not) ready to start a new school.
I needed to take the bus to school. It was a 30 minute ride. School started at 8:30. and it was 7:38 now. I put my headphones in and walked to the bus stop. While walking, I looked around noticing everybody, they all looked so different then the people from Nashville, they went from cowboy boots to five-inch-high heels, from old-fashioned jeeps to bright red Maseratis, big country hats to bandanas, leather backpacks to leather jackets. I started missing Emily, so I called her. The phone rang and rang. No reply. Dang, Em. I left a message.
“Hey, Em, it’s Hallie, just wanted to say I miss you. You’re probably at school right now, I’m on my way to Brookstone now. I really don’t know how I’m going to survive without you.”
I started tearing up. No. No. Not now. No. But it was too late, by the time I reached the bus stop I was sobbing.
“Well, now I’m crying. I love you, Em. please call me soon. Bye.”
I hung up and wiped the tears from my face. It was 7:49. The bus came at around 7:51.
On the bus I sat alone. Everyone was playing on their phones, or throwing spit balls at one another, I was sitting by the window in silence, I wasn’t in the mood for anything. I felt so different, I was actually, for the first time in my life, nervous about something. This was not me. I did not get nervous. I was tough. Wasn’t I? Well, apparently not.
I got off the bus at 8:27, 3 minutes early. When I got off the bus I was completely starstruck. The school was 10 times bigger than the one I went to in Nashville. My heart began racing. I wasn’t ready for this. This wasn’t me. I’m not a california girl. I’m a nashville girl with a heck of an accent. Would people make fun of me? Would they think I’m weird? god, I still own my cowgirl boots from 5th grade. Snap out of it, Hallie. you don’t get scared, you don’t get nervous. You are strong. But the truth was, I wasn’t at all.
I walked inside the school, and there were people everywhere. I basically fell over. I didn’t know where I was going. I wanted to ask, but everyone seemed busy doing their own thing. This is so weird, I thought, I mean, it’s January 25th, and I’m starting school. It’s the middle of the year. What the heck am I doing here? I reached the principal’s office at around 8:34, and knocked on the door.
“Come in!” he said.
“Hi, I’m Hallie Steinfeld, I’m enrolling here.”
“Hallie! so nice to meet you! Please, take a seat,” he said to me.
I sat down and took my sunglasses off. The principal started talking to me about a bunch of school stuff, but I wasn’t paying attention. Behind the principal was a big glass window where I could see everything going on. It was a regular school, I guess. It had all the labels, the jocks, the nerds, the popular click, the rockers, the goths, and the loners. That was me. When the principal finished talking he stood me up and took me to my first class. English. I walked in and took a deep breath. I was ready. The teacher introduced me to everybody and then gave me a seat. Right in the middle.
“This is it, Hallie” I thought. “This is it.”
English was interesting. but mostly the same as my old school. I guess it was better. I saw some boys staring at me, that was a good sign. Hopefully. Classes went by pretty quickly. I found my locker, I was next to a jock and a popular girl which kind of sucked because they were just talking really loudly about this sick party that I wasn’t invited to. But it was okay because I didn’t expect to be invited to anything yet. I had five minutes left of Math before I went to lunch. I was actually pretty excited to meet new people. Too excited. I dropped my text book and it made a huge bang on the ground. Dang it. Everyone stared at me, and I even heard some laughs from the people in the back row. I leaned down to go pick it up, but somebody got it before I had the chance. I looked up. right there was the most beautiful boy I have ever seen in my whole life. He had green eyes and blonde hair. He was obviously a jock because he was wearing a varsity jacket that said “BROOK 4 LYFEEEEEEE.” Then I realized who he was, he was the jock next to my locker, he was the one, he was- ring.
I snapped out of my daydream, I guess I just spent five minutes looking into the eyes of that handsome hunk. And… and… he stared back! When I got to my locker to put my stuff away, I felt someone tap my shoulder. It wasn’t my- I mean- the handsome hunk, it was lady hands. I shut my locker and turned around. right there was “the” clique, the one that every single school has. the popular ones, the pretty ones, the only ones that everyone looks up to.
“Hi, is it.. Bayley?” the blonde one said.
“Hallie,” I replied.
“Whatever your name is, you better stay away from Jared,” she said with sass.
I was confused. who was Jared? Wait a minute, the blonde, she was in my math class, Jared must be… the handsome hunk. Even his name is hunky …
“Listen, blonde, you can’t control me. You might be physically flawless, but it doesn’t mean I like you.” What. Was. That. I’m such an idiot. The clique walked away laughing at me. I leaned back on my locker and sighed. Then somebody came over next to me.
“Hey,” the voice said, “I’m Jared”
Ah Oh my God what is life. I acted cool.
“Hi, I’m Hallie,” I replied. I turned around to face him. He was sooo tall. He must have been 6’4.
“Can I take you to lunch?” he asked.
Ahhh, I’m going to die in this dream.
“You may.” I replied, acting casual. We started walking. Then he looked at me and said, “Your hand looks heavy, let me hold it for you.” Then he grabbed my hand.
I seriously almost passed out. I laughed a little. Oh my god Hallie, what was that? But it was okay because he smiled.
“so, what do you like to do?” he asked me.
“I produce music.” I said.
“No way! My dad works for a record label!” he said.
“Awesome.” I replied. I started to get used to this. I wasn’t shy anymore. We were laughing in the lunch line talking about our lives. I pulled out my phone and showed him Dibbles. That was a big hit. He loved cats! Yay! I feel like I could tell him anything: I told him about my parents and how they got divorced, about how I live in a hotel with my mom, how I have a sister, and how I lived in Nashville. Everything. Now I know we’ve only known each other for a day. But I felt like I’ve known him all my life. It was so easy to talk to him. The words flew right out of my mouth, and the best part was, he didn’t think of me any differently knowing about my past.
“Hey, Hallie, I’m having this party tomorrow at my house, do you wanna come?” he asked.
“I would love to!” I replied. I was so happy. I knew I was going to like this school. but it gets better.
“Hallie, do you mind if I have your number?”
I was done. Completely done. What is this I can’t even. I gave him my number and he texted me right away. I’m pretty sure I passed out.
When I got out of school that day I was so happy I skipped all the way home. When I got to the room, my mom wasn’t there, but had left a note.
I will not be home until late tonight. I am going on a job hunt. Be safe and take care of Dibbles. Text me if you need anything. Love you.
I smiled and jumped on to my bed. Dibbles was sleeping. I opened my phone. 3 messages.
Hi, Hallie, I’m sorry I missed your message. I love you so much and I know you’ll get through this. You are so strong and brave. I miss you too but I know that you are going to do just fine in LA. Always text me, Hall. <3
Thx so much Em, you’re the best, I met someone today and I think I really like him. 🙂
There were 2 more messages.
hey, hall. it’s Jared 😉
hehe… he called me Hall…
hey Jared, I had a lot of fun getting 2 know you today 😉
I sent it. Ah!!! Be calm, Hallie, be calm.
hey, sweetie. how’s LA?
I didn’t feel like talking to him. so I just deleted the text.
Then I got 2 more messages.
already?? omg, girl. you cray-cray.
me 2. so r u going 2 the party? it starts at 8:00.
Duh! Of course I was going!
i’ll be there.
great, I will pick u up at 6:50
i think ur really pretty and cool. just wanted u 2 know.
Oh my god! This is unreal.
thx. you’re also really cool. and really handsome….
Uh oh. I think that was too much. Oh, well!
lol thanks. ur the best. ik we just met. but I think ur the most beautiful girl in the world.
I’m dead. R.i.p me. I died. Dead.
omg thanks you’re so sweet.
maybe we could get dinner together sometime?
Ahhh! I stayed calm. Pf, No I didn’t!
I WOULD LOVE THAT <3
The next day went by fast. Jared and I talked a lot at our lockers. He was my first friend at this school, and I think I really liked him. I didn’t have any other friends. I mean, there were these two girls that I talked to sometimes in Social Studies, Gabby and Mia. But they weren’t really like me. They weren’t mean or anything, they just weren’t relatable to me. After school I ran into them, and they asked me if they could come over to my house. Okay, so I didn’t tell them that I lived in a hotel. They couldn’t be expecting a mansion. I said yes and they cheered the “EEK!” cheer. They linked my arms and we walked home together.
“So, Hallie, what do you like?” Gabby asked.
I could tell she was the chatty one. Mia was like her sidekick.
“Well, I like cats” I said.
“NO WAY! My uncle has a cat!” Gabby said.
“Wow!” I said sarcastically, I told you I was more independent, I didn’t like talking! When we got to the hotel they looked shocked. I just ignored them because I don’t even care if someone makes fun of me. This was my life, I couldn’t change it. They looked disappointed, so I turned and looked at them. “You think I want my life to be like this? You think I chose this path? Wow. You guys are super selfish to think that everyone just has a perfect life. Because not everyone lives in a huge mansion like you guys.”
I was going to keep talking but Gabby’s nails were so long they were sticking into my skin.
“Are you going to Jared’s party tonight?” She completely ignored what I’d just said. Wow. I nodded.
“Maybe we could get manicures together!!!” Gabby screamed.
Done. I was done. I just can’t.
“Yeah, but, um… listen… I… can’t because I need to… um….. visit my uncle! At the… police… station.” That was the worst lie in the world.
“Oh, okay! We’ll see you at the party!” Gabby said.
God, she was so cheery! I opened the door to the room. I didn’t see my mom.
“mom? mom?” I saw Dibbles hiding in the corner.
“Dibbs, where’s mama?” He started shivering. Huh. Then I heard something. it was coming from the bathroom. I opened the door, and there was my mom. Lying on the floor, sweating, most of her hair chopped off, wearing dad’s old shirt.
I started freaking out. I started sobbing. I grabbed the phone and called 911. It was ringing.
“Hello, this is Hallie Steinfeld. I just came home from school and my mom is lying on the floor sweating and looks like she passed out. I really need an ambulance.”
“Okay. We’ll be right there, what is your address?” the policeman said.
I told him everything he needed to know. I was freaking out. I went to the bathroom and leaned down near my mom.
“Mom. mom, answer me mom. I know you’re there mom. mom, please.” I starting crying like crazy. The ambulance came 10 minutes later. They rang the door and I answered. They ran into the bathroom and took my mom on the stretcher. They carried her away and I followed. In the car, they were feeling her heartbeat and saying a bunch of medical stuff. I pulled out my phone to call Emily.
“Hi, Hall! What’s up?
“It’s mom, she passed out today and I found her in the bathroom. She was sweating and most of her hair was chopped off. She was wearing dad’s shirt. I called the ambulance and we are in the car right now. God, Em. I’m freaking out.”
Tears kept running down my face. I couldn’t survive without my mom. She was my hero. What would I do without her?
“Oh my god, Hall. I’m so sorry.”
“I don’t know what to do, Em.”
“She’s going to be fine Hallie, she is strong and she will pull through.”
“I don’t even know what happened, or how it happened.”
“You never know, but she’ll be fine, Hall. I really wanna be there for you but I’m in the middle of finals. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine. I guess I just really needed my older sister to come here and tell me everything’s alright instead of hearing her voice on a freakin’ phone.”
“Hall, don’t be like that.”
“No, Emily. When I need you the most, you aren’t there. Silly of me to even think that you would fly to LA to see your mom who might die. because we both know that you don’t even care.”
I hung up the phone, then the tears came out, they came out and never stopped. I knew my life sucked, but I thought my sister didn’t. We used to be best friends. Now we felt like strangers.
I was in the hospital waiting room for about three hours. They wouldn’t tell me anything. I just kept pacing back and fourth. I texted Jared.
jared im so sorry I have to miss your party. family emergency, im at the hospital r n. long story, I am so sorry I really wish I could be there but I just cant.
I sent it, and leaned my head back against the wall. Why did this have to happen? Why does my life have to suck, why is my family a freak show? Why is my “sort of” boyfriend popular, why did I have to move, why did my parents get divorced. Why did my dad hit me? Why isn’t Emily here. Why? Why? Why?
party cancelled. coming 4 u, hall. ill be there in 10.
No, he was not really coming. He did not just cancel his party to see me. A girl that he’s known for 2 days. I couldn’t believe it. I never thought I would say this, but I was in the hospital, with my mom who was passed out, not knowing if I could be happy again, and a guy that I’ve known for 2 days, who is hot, and popular, made me … smile. Made me smile at one of the hardest times in my life. He was the one that brought me up when I was down, and to think … that used to be Emily. But now, it’s him. It’s him.
Jared did come. He ran in and threw his arms around me, I hugged him so tight that I could feel his manly arms come out of his shirt. He sat me down and held my hand. He made me so happy. The doctor came in about 15 minutes after.
“Hallie?” he called.
I stood up with Jared, whose hands were in mine.
I saw my mom in the hospital bed. She looked horrible. So sick and red. I started crying again.
“So what happened?” I asked holding my tears back.
“Well, it’s hard to tell, we found her on the ground holding scissors in her hands, so it must’ve been suicide, and that also explains the cut hair. Suicidal thoughts happen all the time. Apparently she’s had a mental disorder since she was 34, but nobody knew so it couldn’t be treated. She’s also suffered from very serious depression. She is going to have to stay here for a while if she wants a chance to survive, I am very sorry to say this, Hallie, but it is a very easy situation for her to die.”
When those words came out of the doctor’s mouth I stopped breathing. I stopped moving. The earth stopped spinning, everything just stopped, well, at least for me. I ran out of the room. I heard Jared call my name but I ignored him, I was so depressed. I am nothing. Literally, nothing. Silly of me to think there was such a thing as happily ever after.
The next week went by so slow. I was spending it in the hotel with Dibbles. I know I was supposed to go to school, but I couldn’t, it was to hard for me. I texted Jared for most of the day, and called the hospital to check in. I wasn’t allowed to stay at the hospital because they were doing surgery. I got a text from Jared.
Still on for tonight? xoxo
Oh my god, I totally forgot, I had a date with Jared tonight. I had to go, I needed to get my mind off of mom.
of course. pick me up at 7? xoxo.
I changed. I was wearing my white crop top with a high-waisted plaid skirt, I wore my old-fashioned high heels and my black purse to match. I wore my mom’s gold necklace for good luck. Then the door rang. I opened it.
“Wow,” he said, “You look amazing.” I blushed.
“Thank you. and you as well,” I replied.
He took my hand and we walked to his car. He had a big,black van, you know, the one’s that rich people with drivers have. It was amazing.
“Wow,” I said. He laughed and opened the door for me. What a gentleman. We drove to a sushi place near his house. It was so fancy. We sat at a booth in the back, and it was so nice. We started talking about his life and what he does and his family. I found out his mom had died. When he was three, she got into a car accident. He had a sister named Gigi, who was 18. He had such an interesting life. We got our sushi 30 minutes later; I got an avocado roll and he got a california roll. We laughed so much that night. When we were done I leaned my head against him. He smiled.
“I really like you, Hall. I know we just met but I think you’re the one for me.”
I smiled and stood up.
He leaned in, I leaned in, and the next thing you know we were kissing, and I never felt so happy.
It was 1:00 when I got home. But I didn’t even try to fall asleep, I just texted Jared all night.
tonight was amazing. thx for the sushi. <3
No problem, hall. 😉
What is this, some kind of sick joke?
so are we dating now? <3 I sent.
Was that too much? Nahhhh, it’s okay.
I felt mean, I know I should’ve been paying all of my attention to mom, but I couldn’t help it. He was the only one that made me happy and I needed to be happy more than anything right now.
if thats okay with you…. <3
Ahhh! We’re dating. Ahhh!
it’s totally okay with me. ily.. <3
Before he could respond I got a call. It was from the hospital. I answered it. The words they said on the phone call were the two words I would never forget.
How could they do that? Just say it like that. “She died” not even a “She passed away, i’m so sorry” type of thing. I was over it. Over life, over everything. I didn’t care anymore, all I had left was a crappy hotel room, and my cat that sounded like a rooster. I was completely done. So I went away, I packed my bags and started the car. I drove through the city with the roof down and my hair blowing in the wind, I didn’t tell anyone, not even Jared. I just abandoned my life because it was pointless. My phone kept buzzing with texts from Emily, dad, and Jared. But I ignored them. They weren’t important anymore, nothing was.
I drove all the way to, you guessed it,
When I went to Route 66 I found a small shack near the water. I ended up telling Jared where I was, and being the gentlemen he was, he came to get me. I wouldn’t go, though. I didn’t want to live in that sick town. So he bought me a house, about 15 acres across from his house. He visited once in a while, but me, I lived with Dibbles for five years, until one day Jared came over and bent down on one knee, and you know where this is going. We got married and lived, I guess you could say, happily ever after.
Emily and dad came to the wedding, and me and Emily were friends again. Not as close as we were before, but we were sisters, and some things would never change between us. But dad was gone. He wasn’t dead, but I never talked to him again. It was so wrong it almost felt right. So Jared, Dibbles and I, along with our one kid, Julia, yep, named after my mom, ended up living on Route 66.