Sixteen

2710
After having her at only sixteen, Haylie's mum has gone on to become one of the world's most famous popstars. Now nearly sixteen herself, Haylie is struggling to figure out who she is among all the glamour. Her decision to rediscover herself has brought her from the cosmopolitan scene in London to a rural and backward town in the south of Ireland. Haylie must learn to juggle the small-town dramas and those from her own complicated life.

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1. Threats and decisions

Haylie sat in the back row of the classroom, surrounded by her closest friends. They were the best thing about her life at that moment. They were fun and funny and Heather had no inhibitions or shame to speak of which meant that pushing limits was her favourite pastime. Heather claimed her mother named her for Heather Chandler form the Winona Ryder film. Haylie wasn’t sure if that was true – and if it was, she thought it was an unusual choice for your baby girl to emulate – however it couldn’t have been more appropriate either way. Katie and Chloe would follow anything Heather or Haylie said so they made a great team.  This day, in particular, they had their heads together and were whispering animatedly. Katie’s older brother Michael was a complete nutjob and was pretty much willing to get Katie anything she wanted – ask no questions. They were planning their first attempt to get into a nightclub. Heather claimed that she had already been to The Garden in central London but Haylie had learned to take everything Heather said with a pinch of salt.

            “So my brother said he can get us fake IDs and vodka if we want” Katie whispered keenly. “Hell yes, we want!” Chloe said excitedly and they quickly shushed her. “Yes,” Heather asserted, “get the vodka and the IDs. What are people wearing?” Katie took out her phone and showed a series of mirror-selfies in different outfits “I can’t choose!” Chloe pointed at one “that one is hot” “Yeah but it’s my cousins so if I stain it she’ll kill me”. “Haylie why don’t you sneak some of your mother’s clothes for us?” Heather had fixed Haylie with the look she couldn’t say no to. She knew that most of the clothes her mother had were gifts from designers and costed a small fortune but it would only be for one night. What could possibly happen? “Yeah, of course, I’ll grab a few options”. Heather was already googling before Haylie had even finished her sentence. “I want this one” she held out her phone and was showing Haylie a picture of her mother on a red carpet of some event wearing a tight-fitting gold dress with a slanted, plunging, v-neck that Haylie knew Heather would look amazing in. They were only fifteen but Heather could pass for twenty-four easily.

            Chloe squealed again “I’m so excited! I want to start drinking now!” They all grinned at one another. Only three more classes to get through and they would all be rushing home to gather their stuff before going to Katie’s house. The door of the classroom opened and the teacher called for silence so Haylie pulled herself away from the group, still smiling to herself in anticipation of all the fun they were going to have that night. Heather nudged her and Haylie looked down. She had written Haylie a message on the corner of her notebook ‘I’m going to find the three hottest guys in the club and going to get them all to buy me a drink AND kiss me!’ Haylie grinned and wrote back ‘share though?’ Heather winked at her.

            Haylie had raced home as soon as the end of day bell had sounded. She shouted her hellos from the front door before racing upstairs to her room. Her make up was scattered across her floor from that morning and she began to gather it up quickly into her vanity case. A tap came on her door behind her and, without waiting, her mother’s manager Jill came inside 

“What are you doing?”

Haylie rolled her eyes and didn’t bother to turn around. Jill was the single most annoying person on the planet. She felt that her being her mother’s manager meant that anything Haylie did was open for her commentaries and opinions too.

“What’s it to you?”

“Well just that your mother is working late tonight and she wanted me to let you know” Haylie felt herself getting annoyed

“her mobile phone not working or something?”

“no but she’s in the studio and you know they don’t allow mobiles in there”

“right.”

Jill continued standing at the door, watching Haylie pack.

“Can I help you with something Jill?”

“Where are you going?”

“That’s none of your business”

“Does your mother know?”

“Why don’t you ask her that?”

She needed Jill to leave so that she could get the dresses out of her mother’s wardrobe.

“I can drive you to where you’re going”

“That’s ok I have a lift”

Jill still hadn’t moved from the door of Haylie’s bedroom.

“Jill. I’m going to stay at my friend’s house. It’s a Friday so my mother won’t care. I’ve texted her about it and I’m sure she’ll say yes. If she says no once she has read the message she can always just come and collect me. I don’t need you to drive me because Heather is going too and her Mum is going in that direction because she has an appointment near Katie’s house. Is that ok?” She smiled with her sweetest, falsest smile. She knew that Jill knew she was hiding something but she also knew that Jill had no authority to tell her ‘no’ if her mother really wouldn’t mind her going to the sleepover. The vein in Jill’s forehead was throbbing slightly as it always did when she repressed the emotions Haylie evoked in her.

“Of course darling” Jill reciprocated the false smile before finally turning away and heading down the stairs to the front door. Haylie waited until she could see her from her bedroom window leaving the house and getting into her car. Only when she had left the driveway through the large, black gates and driven away did Haylie risk dashing to her mother’s walk-in wardrobe and grabbing the four dresses the girls had chosen in their google-search earlier that day and stuffed them into her bag.

            The girls giggled constantly, stumbling around Katie’s room as they struggled to walk with the deadly mix of too-high heels and too much alcohol. They blared music and sang along at the top of their lungs.

“BUT YOU’RE THE ONE I WANT TO BRING HOME. THE ONLY ONE I COULD EVER LOVE….” Heather broke from the group and walked confidently towards the speaker. She did not stumble as she walked and gave the impression that she had been walking in heels daily for years. “I know what song we should put on!” She smiled wickedly as she chose from the playlist. Haylie immediately recognized the opening bar.

“Oh no! Heather!” Haylie giggled again as her mother’s voice came through. Katie and Chloe fell over with laughter and all four girls chanted the lyrics along with the song.

“I’M NOT A ONE NIGHT STAND KIND OF GIRL. BUT TONIGHT YOU GOT ME MAKING ALL KINDS OF BAD CHOICES. BAAAAD CHOICES!” Haylie couldn’t help singing along too.

“Your mum is so cool Haylie!” said Chloe from underneath Katie who had fallen on top of her and still hadn’t managed to stop laughing long enough to regain her footing.

“And she has the coolest clothes,” said Heather from next to her, admiring herself in the full-length mirror. Haylie felt a little proud. She found it annoying, normally, having her mother in the public eye. It meant that she was constantly being compared to her in terms of beauty and talent. She loved her mother and was proud of what she had achieved but she had vowed never to sing in public for fear of the backlash and she felt her stomach squirm whenever she looked in the mirror and saw her father looking back at her. However at that moment when Heather and Chloe were talking about her mum she was happy. She was lucky to have a young mum unlike Katie whose mother was at least fifty already, a mother who had great style unlike Chloe’s mum who constantly wore yoga gear – Chloe was convinced that her mother was having an affair with Paolo the yogi – she was happy that her mum cared about where she was and who she was, with unlike Heather’s mum who always smelt of wine, even if that meant that Haylie still hadn’t looked at her phone, fearing the missed calls she knew she must have.

            “Ok enough” Heather turned abruptly. “let’s get going. I want to go to the club and meet these guys before they all get snatched up.” The girls did their final preening and Katie’s reluctant older brother Keith surfaced from his room and took them in his car. Katie’s whole family’s names began with a K, like the Kardashians.

            The club was packed and the girls got in without a hitch thanks to their fake IDs and grown-up outfits. Heather even winked at the bouncer. Haylie was amazed at her confidence. They danced and danced for hours. Pretty soon each of the girls had one, two or even three guys around her. Heather stuck her tongue out playfully at Haylie over the shoulder of the guy leading her out of the club and through her hazy drunken state Haylie briefly wondered if she would be kidnapped and this would be the last time she saw her. The thought soon left her however when the guy she was with stuck his tongue down her throat.

            Haylie wasn’t sure how much time had passed before Heather suddenly reappeared. She was grinning madly and pulled Haylie’s hand to get her away from the boy she was talking to.

“Hayls come on we have to go, you’re not going to believe this!”

Haylie looked around confusedly. The boys had been buying them drinks all night and she was struggling to keep her eyes open and in focus.

“Where are Chloe and Katie?”

“Katie’s hurling and Chloe is getting her now. Come on!”

She pulled Haylie out of the door and on to the street just as Katie and Chloe appeared and followed them.

            The flashing began immediately. Haylie could barely see as she stumbled forwards and followed Heather’s guiding pull. Head down she tried to focus on putting one foot in front of the other. The flashing continued, and it was disorienting. She couldn’t figure out where it was coming from until she began to distinguish the shouts coming from around her.

“Haylie! Smile baby!”

“Does your mother know you’re out Haylie?”

“Looking sexy Haylie! Who is your friend?”

“Heather Bethencourt!” Haylie realized that Heather wasn’t steering her towards a taxi or a car, she was parading her through the crowd of paparazzi that had gathered outside the club. She wondered whether Heather herself had called them. Wrenching her hand from Heather’s grasp she turned and moved as quickly as she could manage in the ridiculous heels back to the bouncer on the door.

“Please, I need a taxi” the bouncer nodded and pushed her gently inside the door of the club where the cameras couldn’t find her. Sitting on a chair in the dark entrance she suddenly felt ill. She looked ridiculous in the too-high heels and too-sexy dress. The dress that a designer had given her mother to wear and now would see splashed across the front of tacky tabloids. Her mother who was probably worried about where she was would now realize that her fifteen-year-old had spent the evening with her tongue down some guy’s throat at least five years older than her. Haylie closed her eyes and willed herself not to vomit.

            Heather’s voice came from outside the door, “Ahab she is my friend and I want to be with her”

“I think you’ve done enough tonight. Go home. There is no way you’re coming back in here”

“Move you loser I need to be with my friend. Haylie? Haylie come out here!”

Haylie kept her eyes closed and did not move. Suddenly she heard the bouncer’s voice close to her ear and she jumped. “The taxi is here. I’ll help you to get to it. '' He offered her his arm to hold on to and she gladly took it as she pushed past friends and paparazzi alike and made her way to the taxi. Giving her address she closed her eyes again and braced herself to face her mother.

            “Oh Haylie you scared me”  Shaye was peering down at her from the top of the stairs by the time Haylie had finally gotten herself through the door, had squinted her eyes enough to make the numbers come into focus on the burglar alarm pad, and had typed in the code to disable the beeping ringing through the house. “Sorry, Mum.” Shaye was coming down the stairs and Haylie realized she had an old football trophy from when Haylie was about four in her hand as if to fight whoever was breaking into her house.

“Why didn’t you answer any of my texts or calls? I thought you were staying at Katie’s house tonight? Why are you in that dress? Is that mine?”

Haylie’s reply was cut short as she puked all over the entrance hall floor.

            It was a tribute to her mother that she did not pursue the subject that night and instead held back her hair and stroked her head as she continued to puke into the downstairs toilet. Haylie cried like a baby mainly due to the throwing up but it was also mixed in with guilt for taking the dresses and lying, fear for the papers tomorrow and hurt for what Heather had done. She still hadn’t looked at her phone but she knew it would be blowing up with messages from the girls. Instead, she just continued to cry on Shaye’s knee and occasionally raised her head high enough to throw up in the toilet again.

 

 

            Haylie woke in her mother’s bed. Her head wasn’t hurting her like she thought it would – thankfully her mother had forced her to drink nearly two liters of water before she went to sleep. However, her mouth tasted disgusting and her stomach felt raw. Shaye was already up and Haylie could hear music playing downstairs in the kitchen. Shakily, she got up, brushed her teeth, put on clothes and made her way downstairs. She figured that if she was going to be killed, she would prefer that it be in regular clothes than in her pajamas. When she came into the kitchen her mother was sitting at the counter eating her breakfast with – to her dismay – Jill.

“Well good morning Haylie”

“Morning Jill”

Shaye turned to look at her and Haylie could see that the maternal kindness of last night when Haylie had been puking up her guts had ended. Her mother was angry.

“I brought something over for you to have a look at”

Haylie knew what it would be before Jill even had the chance to take them out of her bag. Tabloids. There she was, splashed over the covers. Sometimes Heather appeared alongside her but mostly she didn’t. That at least was a small satisfaction for Haylie. Her stomach dropped however when she realized that in a small bubble next to the enormous picture of her covering the front page, was a grainy picture of her kissing the random guy she could hardly remember from the club. Obviously someone had snapped the picture while she wasn’t looking.

“Mum…” Haylie began but Shaye cut her off.

“Don’t appeal to me, Haylie. I’m raging with you.”

Jill smiled, she seemed to be in her element. Finally, she was witnessing Haylie’s punishment.

“Your mother is very disappointed in you Haylie. Those clothes were very expensive and we can assume they are now ruined. How do you think she looks as your mother when you are acting in such a shameless manner, and at your age.”

“I’m not angry about the dresses nor my own reputation.” Shaye cut in. “I’m shocked by you, Haylie. You should know better. You’re only fifteen! Why on earth would you even want to be in a nightclub with sleazy men who don’t care that you’re clearly underage?”

Haylie couldn’t meet her eyes. She was right, but it was only meant to be a little fun. If only she hadn’t drunk so much it would all have been ok.

“I don’t like your friends.”

Haylie rolled her eyes. They had been having the same argument ever since they had moved to this area and Haylie and Heather became friends seven years ago.

“roll your eyes all you want. I know that they are bad influences whose parents are either clueless or drunks and I know that they are doing this to you”

“That’s not fair!” Haylie protested. “I did the same thing to you as they did to their parents last night. Are you clueless or a drunk?” Shaye looked surprised. Haylie pressed on. Her eyes locked firmly on her mothers and purposely avoiding Jill’s “I was just as excited as they were about this plan. I didn’t hesitate for one minute. Didn’t have any doubt or moment of guilt. I was just as much in it as they were”

“well, maybe you’ve become more contaminated by all of this fame than I had thought!” Shaye snapped back. She had gotten to her feet and they were eye-level. “Maybe a little time away from this life and your clueless mother will do you some good. Get your level head back.”

“What does that even mean?”

“Boarding school!” came Jill from next to Shaye. Haylie glared at her. “Oh yes! Because whoever heard of a pretentious boarding school girl?”

“Not boarding school.” Said Shaye “I have a cousin in a small town in the south of Ireland. You could go an stay with her for a year and go to school there. Small town charm.”

Haylie had not expected that. She hadn’t even known about any Irish relatives.


 

            Later that day Haylie was Facetiming with Heather. “Ireland? What even is there in Ireland?” Haylie shrugged “I’ve been to Dublin with mum a couple of times when she has been touring. The people are nice I guess.” Heather looked disgusted

“I heard it rains there all the time”

“It rains here all the time”

“Yeah but we’re in London. That cancels out the bad weather. Anyway, she’s probably only bluffing. She wouldn’t send you away for a year. Your mum misses you when you stay over at my house for one night.”

“That’s true…” Haylie had thought of that after the argument with her mother and Jill had exploded and she had been sent to her room. She knew that her mother wouldn’t really follow through on the Ireland plan. However, there had been something about the way she had said ‘small-town charm’ that really made Haylie think. Wouldn’t it be nice to get away for a little while? A simpler life. No photographers, no parties, no pressure. She would miss her friends but she still wondered about the paparazzi the night before and how Heather had pulled her outside to face them. Were they really her friends? Was her mum right about it being strange that she wanted to do all of these things when they were only fifteen?

“Heather…” said Haylie

“Mmm?”

“Did you call the paparazzi last night and tell them I was in that club?”

“What? No…Don’t be so stupid…” Heather laughed. But she was lying. Haylie could tell by her expression of confusion mixed with a threatening look that told Haylie not to ask again. She always pulled it out whenever she was confronted about something she had said or done. Haylie nodded, said goodbye and hung up. That expression on Heather’s face had made up her mind for her. 

            When she came downstairs her mum was sitting at the kitchen table going through some kind of paperwork or bills.

“Mum…” Haylie approached tentatively, knowing that what she had to say was going to come as a surprise.

“yes Haylie”

“I’ve been thinking about what you said and I agree with all of it. What I did was inconsiderate and I should have thought about the possible consequences for both me and for you.”

“Thank you, Haylie, but you’re still grounded for a month”

“Yes, but I have also been thinking about what you said about my friends and about how we shouldn’t want to be doing things like this when we are so young. And I think that you’re right. I think that we are exposed to a lot of things here and maybe my friends are not to blame for what happened yesterday but maybe we are all bad influences on each other. So I’ve been thinking…” She took the seat opposite her mother who was still ordering the papers in front of her. “I would like to try the year in Ireland.”

Shaye’s head flew up and Haylie could see how shocked she was. “You what?”

“I want to try living in Ireland for a year”

“Well, Haylie… Honestly, I hadn’t really intended to send you to Ireland”

“yes I know but I think it could be good for me! Ireland or a small town right here in England. I don’t care but I think I would like to see if I can go back to being me again. Not a privileged celebrity’s daughter.”

“I haven’t spoken to my cousin Jennifer in years. She’s more like my second cousin.”

“I don’t mind”

Shaye looked intently in Haylie’s eyes. “Are you sure about this? You’re not just doing this to punish me for not being around enough for you?”

“I want to do it, Mum. I want to try.”

“Well ok then.”

 

 
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