Champagne, Fame and Other Drugs

By: Tessa Rose

A combination of glasses on glasses of champagne and endless dancing made Hallie’s head spin. Famous faces blurred by her, the sparkle in their expensive brand fashion gowns and suits reflected in her eyes. Hallie was bubbling, giggling and grinning to anyone and everyone, and especially to herself. This night was the purest kind of ecstasy. The genuine joy the night had spurred made her higher than any drug could.

Tonight was the night of her dreams; her entire life she had only wondered what it might be like to stand in front of the blinding flashes of hundreds of cameras, to have crowds of people know her name and cheer it as she passed by, to walk among those select few people who would be remembered forever. And here she was. Standing in a regal dress, posing for paparazzi, smiling so much she thought her face would split in two. A sense of entitlement came over Hallie, caused by the thrill of popularity. She knew she was destined to be a star, an entertainment legend, and she knew that no one else deserved this besides her. That thought made her stand a little taller, quirk her eyebrow slightly, and stride like a queen. Perhaps it was the flowing, brilliant rose-colored fabric that gently fell around her ankles or the dark lipstick that pouted her lips, or the elegant styling of her soft waves of golden hair that made her feel divine. But more likely, it was her own inner accomplishment and complete self-satisfaction caused transcendence. Up until now, she had merely lived, but this night, this life, pushed her to thrive. Starting tonight, Hallie was immortal.

“Hallie! There you are. I was beginning to think you had ditched the after party.” A deep voice reached out to her, gently taking one of her hands in his.

“And leave before they bring out any cake? Do you even know me?” Hallie quipped, leaning into her boyfriend’s large frame, brushing against the smooth velvet of his suit, feeling safer and less exposed, even though they had hundreds of people and cameras all around them. “I’m glad you found me Nick, I was thinking I would have to hit the dance floor all on my lonesome.” Hallie formed a comical frown, making Nick chuckle.

As the pair drifted towards the main party, Hallie couldn’t help but reminisce her latest triumph. She remembered every step she took to the microphone, and how the glittering golden metal felt in her clammy hands. She remembered squinting into the glare of the stage lights, she remembered the overwhelming feeling of her heart trying to beat itself out of her chest, not from nerves but by her own absolute relief that her life hadn’t gone to waste, but had been exactly everything she had hoped for. Holding an Oscar, and facing the world with victory made her whole.

Unexpectedly, Hallie felt a tiny drop of distrust and deep heartache within her core, just a small amount of doubt that was gnawing at her. For some odd reason, Hallie couldn’t help but feel a slight itch from cheap sheets on her legs and a subtle scent of mold and dust. She felt as if some part of her was unattached, haunting her. She shook the notion, and tried to reel back in her consciousness to her immediate reality. She decided that perhaps she had a little too much champagne.

“You seem a little distant.” Nick commented, to Hallie’s relief. She didn’t want to be stuck in her own head any longer.

“Well, tonight has been something out of a dream. I’m trying to take it all in. I want to remember every little detail.” Hallie let herself forget it, willing herself to return to the vibrancy of the party.

Nick took her waist and swept her across the dance floor, reeling the glory of the night back. Hallie followed his lead, her feet stumbling to find their place, but her terrible dancing couldn’t ruin the moment. Nick merely giggled at her slight imperfection.

“Oh hush up, you know how many dance classes I had to go through in order to get the dance right in the movie.” Hallie tried to justify to Nick.

“It’s endearing.” Nick snickered, only pulling her closer, and moving his feet even quicker, dancing with far more grace than his partner. “I suppose I’ll have to make it up to you later.” He whispered in her ear, urging her to laugh with him, letting go of her ego.

The remainder of the night was no less magical, Hallie met just about every one of her idols, been interviewed by countless news organizations and danced so much her feet went numb. Everything had gone as planned, and yet had been no less captivating. Her publicist had even complimented Hallie’s “natural charisma,” only confirming Hallie’s belief that she was born to be among the stars, under the only spotlight that really mattered. To her, nothing was more fascinating or exciting than the flashy, shallow life they led. She might be superficial but at least she was important.

“I must say, Ms. Grant that you know how to dress to impress.” A velvety voice called to Hallie. She found herself staring at none other than one of the best directors Hollywood had to offer, Arthur Harrington. She grinned. This was her opportunity.

“Please, Mr. Harrington, call me Hallie. And thank you, although you do provide some completion with that handsome suit.”

With booming laughter, Mr. Harrington continued, “You are too kind. However, I would like to speak with you about more than your outfit. Hallie dear, how would you like to become partners?” Hallie’s face lit up.

“Partners?! That would be so wonderful. What did you have in mind?”

“Well Hallie, your performance in A Winter’s Night was spectacular, even as a supporting actress. You won an Oscar for it, and I believe that it won’t be your last. Your talent is hard to come by, and I think Hollywood is in need of a fresh face. I would like to cast you in an upcoming film I am directing as the lead. I am thinking of doing a romantic comedy, and Chadley Booper would be your co-star, which surely isn’t a bad thing. So, what do you say?” Mr. Harrington’s voice sounded confident, as if he had never known failure or disappointment in his life.

Hallie beamed up at Mr. Harrington and took his extended hand, basking in the moment. She was going to be big. Hallie knew it, Mr. Harrington knew it, and soon the world would know. She had the charm, the looks, the character and poise to truly be great.

Hallie reveled in her newfound fame, facing the world, and demanding attention from it. She let the crowds revolve around her like she was the sun. She was a star now after all. But it was too much- she started to feel herself reeling. Frowning, Hallie attempted to regain her balance. Her head was aching, and she could feel herself descending, coming down from her high. She remembered herself. Her consciousness left the red carpet and returned to her body, curled up on her lonely bed.

Not now. Don’t let it end.

Her heavy eyelids reluctantly opened. Hallie groaned, her head pulsing and her mouth cracked from dehydration. She wiped dried drool form her face and attempted to wrangle her knotted hair into a half-hearted bun. She could faintly smell the pungent scent of mold and dust. As her grogginess receded, she noticed how her legs itched from the scratchiness of her cheap sheets. She couldn’t see herself but she could feel the deep-seated dark circles that burdened her eyes from sleep deprivation.

The pounding in Hallie’s head elevated as she turned her aching body around. On her beside table was the reminder of her depression. The pill bottle had been knocked over, its contents scattered. She loved how they made her feel important. And yet, every time she indulged in the decadence of oxycodone, she always woke up sadder. Still, it provided a light in her bleak life. A glimmer of another world, one where Hallie was happy. She closed her eyes, trying to hold onto her dreamland. She relived every moment, every feeling. She knew none of it was real, but it felt real to her. It had to feel real. Hallie desperately needed something to keep her going.

She had dreamt her entire life of being a famous actress, to live a life full of glamour and parties and champagne. But here she was, alone in her bare apartment, her life as messy as her crumpled bed sheets that now pooled on her floor. She glanced around the loft, in an attempt to collect herself. There were dirty dishes strewn across all of the countertops, all of which were emitting a horrendous stench. Her clothes were in a singular pile, and her dresser drawers wouldn’t close shut. Her lights were too bright and the fluorescent light bulbs gave her migraines.

Hallie rolled onto her back, laying back on her bed. She didn’t want to get up. Not now, not ever. She draped her arm across her face, shielding her eyes from the harsh lighting and the stains on her ceiling from various leaks. Despite her arm, she still could hear her neighbors shuffling around. Damn those thin walls. All Hallie wanted was some peace. Hallie gave up and let her hand fall away from her body and off of her bed.

There was a collection of White Wolf Vodka bottles strewn across the floor by her, next to ad cutouts for unexperienced actresses looking to make a name for themselves. Her parents had told her that she was wasting her time on some ridiculous endeavor. They prodded her to become something useful, something attainable. Last time it was a news reporter. They told her she had always been charismatic. But Hallie already knew that. They didn’t understand.

Hallie wondered how she got to this point. Where did she go wrong? This wasn’t supposed to happen. She was going to be a star, she was destined to wear pretty dresses and go to fancy parties and drink champagne. That was what was supposed to happen. 

The life of the famous was seductive, and Hallie had fallen under its gaze, bewitched by the stars. They were so bright, so promising, and yet felt so far away. Hallie knew deep down she would never reach them.

A combination of the drugs and her own sorrow-induced exhaustion made her head spin. As her vision faded black, she thought maybe in her dreams she could find happiness.

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