• Sheila & Swede

The Hills Have Lies - Ep. 5


The Hills Have Lies © 2018 Lili Grouse

Sunday morning, I wake up to my phone ringing. Sitting up with a start, I realize I forgot to call my parents when I got home from the club. Not that I have any idea what time that was, but I apparently decided to skip washing off my makeup and brushing my teeth.


“Hello?” I say as I pick up the cordless. My attempt at a greeting comes out as a croak, and I painfully clear my throat to repeat it.


“Honey! Are you sick?” My mom’s voice is filled with concern.


“No, Mom, just tired.” With sticky eyes and a furry tongue, but I leave that part out.


“Did you just wake up?” Mom says, sounding half-concerned, half-annoyed.


“Mm-hm.”


“It’s one o’clock in the afternoon.” Concern has now been replaced by full-out disappointment. No doubt they’ve all been up since the crack of dawn to milk the cows.


“Is it? I hadn’t realized,” I mumble, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes. And some of the mascara along with it, I hope.


“It’s not healthy to sleep all day,” she remarks. Neither is staying out all night, I mentally add but wisely keep it to myself.


“I know, Mom.”


“We were worried about you. You didn’t call or message us last night.”


“I’m sorry, Mom. I was out with my cast mates and got home late. I just forgot to call.”


“I hope you’re being careful, Hannah,” she says in an admonishing tone that sounds a lot like part of ‘The Talk’. Which in itself is pretty strange, seeing as how she and I never actually had The Talk. Growing up on a farm, the whole process of how mammals come into being was pretty much a no-brainer.


“Of course, Mom,” I say, stifling a yawn. I really shouldn’t be this tired still. I wonder how Lauren is doing – she had way more to drink last night than I did. “So, how’s your day been so far?” I ask, grabbing my cell phone to check my messages. There are several missed calls from Alison and a number of texts. I guess the sound on my cell was turned off.


I check her texts first and gasp as I read through them.


“Honey, what’s wrong?” my mom asks but her voice seems distant.


You’re on CelebSpotter’s start page, one of her messages reads. There’s a link to the website, and I immediately click it.


“Hannah!” Mom practically yells in my ear and I realize I never answered her.


“Uh… sorry, Mom, something came up. I’ll call you tonight, okay?”


“All right, but-“


“Bye Mom.” I hang up before she can finish her sentence.


I sit down at my desk and scroll through the photos on the gossip site – and read their captions. There’s a series of snapshots of me and Derek on the staircase when he’s entering his number into my phone. The caption reads ‘Booty call enabled?’ I cringe.


There’s also a picture of Lauren looking over her shoulder as she sneaks out into the alley – and one of her and Tom coming back inside and looking mildly disheveled. ‘Alley cats in heat?’ is their caption.


The clickable headline reads ‘Spotted: The cast of THHL Getting Frisky’. The link leads to an article with promotional pictures from the show together with the same photos that were on the front page. The article itself is filled with lies and half-truths.


It looks like lust is in the air for the cast of new hit teen drama The Hills Have Lies. CelebSpotter has exclusive footage of some of the cast members getting frisky at Chartreuse last night. Our source confirms that Hannah Miller, who plays virginal Kate-Lynn, was spotted cozying up to co-star Derek Whittier, exchanging phone numbers for a late-night hookup. Meanwhile, Lauren Machado, who plays tech-savvy Deanna on the show, was spotted sneaking out the back door with co-star Tom Granger, only to return minutes later looking disheveled and satisfied. Machado, who bared it all for GothGirl.Com last year, obviously isn’t the shy type. What do YOU think? Are these couples going to last the season? What celebrity couples would YOU like to see? Sound off in the comments!


I should stop reading right this second, I really should. But a part of me – the masochistic part I didn’t know I had – demands I read the comments.


Some aren’t so bad, actually. Mostly they’re about us being ‘cute together’ or how hot Lauren is. Some are about expressing hope there might be a surveillance tape from the alley that may have caught the action. Several comments are about Cole and Crystal, speculating whether they had their own party going that night.


As I scroll down, a GIF starts playing and at first, I don’t know what I’m looking at. Then I do.

It’s a cartoon of a farmer and a cow, copulating. ‘Derek and Hannah later that night’ is typed underneath the image. I cover my mouth to hold back a whimper. It doesn’t change the feeling behind it, though. I’m horrified. How could anyone be so mean to someone they don’t even know, someone who they haven’t had any kind of contact with? I may have been bullied at school, but those were stupid kids who didn’t know any better and who picked on me because I was different from them.


There are a number of replies to the comment with the GIF, and they’re all celebrating the ingenuity of the commentator. No different from the kids in school who stood behind the bullies, either cheering them on, laughing along or saying nothing. I can’t take it any longer, so I close the browser window and call Alison.


“Hannah!” Alison answers on the second ring. “Has your phone been off or something?”


“Yeah, I’d left it on mute. I saw your texts a few minutes ago.”


“Did you read the article? If you can call it that,” she adds with a scoff.


“Yeah. The comments, too.”


“Damn. I’m sorry, Hannah.”


“I’m fine. All part of this business we call show, right?” I say without much conviction.


“Still. I mean, those horrible GIFs… they’re all over social media now.”


“What?”


“You didn’t check your mentions?” she asks as if this should be part of my daily routine – like brushing my hair or teeth. Well, I haven’t done either yet, so…


“No. Should I?” I’m not sure I want to know, but I’m still drawn to my laptop.


“Maybe not. Unless you want to block people? I could help you with that if you want.”


“Should I block people?” I frown, again reminded how much of a novice I am at this stuff.


“If they’re harassing you, yeah.”


“Are they?” I pull up Twitter on my computer. I need to know what people are saying if I’m going to figure out how to deal with it.


As I scroll down my mentions, I see several links to Instagram and Tumblr, but there are also tweets directed at me personally.


.@hannahHHL Do you want my number?


.@hannahHHL Wanna hook up? DM me your deets.


.@hannahHHL @dereckless 3-way?


There are a couple of coarser suggestions, too. I’m not sure if I should be offended or flattered. I guess it could be worse. At least they’re not threatening.


“Hannah?”


Upon hearing her voice, I realize I’m still on the phone with Alison. “Sorry, just checking Twitter.”


“Are you okay?”


“Yeah. It’s just a bunch of guys making lewd suggestions.”


“I just hate how they’re always comparing you to Lauren, though. I mean, those GIFs …”


“Wait, what GIFs?”


“Oh. I thought you’d seen them… don’t worry about it, okay? People are jerks.”


“What GIFs, Alison?” I repeat. “The one with the cow?” I’m already scrolling to find one of the tweets with links.


“No, well, there are a couple of variations on that one, but most of them are…”


I’m already there. There are two GIFs set in a comic book type frame with writing in the style of a graphic novel. The first GIF is a scene from GothGirl.Com where Lauren is on top of a guy, only tattoos covering her chest, and at the top it says, ‘Tom’s night’. The one below is titled ‘Derek’s night’ and it’s a clip from Cruiseliner where I’m eating a carrot and looking miserable. I know the clip well; it comes just before I lose my head. Literally.


“Poor Derek,” is the only thing I can think to say.


“Poor Derek?” Alison parrots. “I don’t see Derek being ridiculed and harassed all over the Internet. Do you want to go out for coffee? Or come over? We could watch romcoms and eat popcorn.”


“Thanks, but I think I need more exercise, not more calories. I’ll just go for a run. Do you want to come?”


“Can’t. I twisted my ankle at the club last night, it’s all swollen now.”


“Oh. I’m sorry. Do you need anything? Painkillers? Ice cream?”


“No, I’m good. Hope you have a nice run. Call me later if you change your mind about the movie and popcorn.”


“Will do.” I smile as I hang up, then close the lid on my laptop and bury my face in my hands.

I wash my face clean of residue makeup and put my hair up in a ponytail before pulling on sweatpants and a running top.


The air is thick and warm when I hit the pavement – not like the air back home, that’s for sure. At least I can’t smell manure anywhere.


I’m not a fan of exercise, but I know it’s good for your body and necessary for staying in shape – or get in better shape, as it is. Right now, I have the right physique for the character I’m playing. Kate-Lynn is healthy, but not slim.


I’ve shot a few scenes where I take my shirt off in my bedroom when wearing a sports bra underneath and the director specifically said I need to keep the same shape for the rest of the season. Meaning I can’t gain weight and I can’t tone my stomach, either. For next season, though, Kate-Lynn is going to have some sort of transformation, so I can only assume I’ll need to go on a strict diet and exercise regimen.


It kills me that I worked so hard to get down to the size I am now, and I’m still being called a heifer.


With my thoughts churning away in my head and music playing in my ears, I don’t realize where I’m going until I think I hear someone calling me. I slow down and take one earphone out to listen for noises. My pulse is beating loudly in my ears, though, so for a moment, I think I’ve imagined it. Then…


“Hey, Han! Wait up!”


I turn around and see Cole jogging down the street in a tank and board shorts. I wait for him to reach me, hoping to get my breathing down to normal before I have to attempt to talk.


“Hi,” I greet him, still a little short of breath.


“Hey, you. What brings you to my neck of the hills?”


“Your-“ I look around and realize I’m not far from Cole’s apartment. Huh. I must have been really preoccupied. It’s a wonder I didn’t get hit by a car at a stoplight or something. Maybe stopping on red is something you just do instinctively… like breathing.


“Lost?” he smiles, obviously seeing the confusion on my face. My sweaty, unmade face.


I shrug. “I guess I was caught up in my thoughts.”


“You wanna walk for a bit?”


“Sure.”


“So… I take it you’ve been online today?” he asks after a little while.


“What gave it away?” I pull a face.


“Oh, I don’t know. The angry running, maybe?”


“’Angry running’?” I frown. “What’s that?”


“Just… you were looking tense and running pretty fast for this weather. Frankly, I’m surprised you didn’t collapse before I caught up with you.”


“Why? Because I’m so out of shape?” I snap. I don’t mean to snap at him, I know he’s just being nice to me, but I guess I’m still hurt over the comments.


“No…” he drags out the word as if he’s talking to a deranged person. “Because it’s too humid to be running any great distance at that speed.”


Right. “I’m sorry.” I sigh. “I’m just… not in a good headspace right now.”


“Come on, my apartment’s just a few blocks over. I have vitamin water in my fridge. A lot of it, actually. I did a commercial a while back and they still send me cases of the stuff whenever they come up with new flavors.”


I slow my steps. I’m sweaty and gross and I can’t stink up Cole’s nice apartment. “I should head back. I should probably eat something.”


“You haven’t had lunch yet?”


“I woke up less than an hour ago. Kinda didn’t have an appetite.”


“Okay, you’re definitely coming over. Starving yourself and running yourself into the ground isn’t going to do anyone any good – least of all you.”


“Really, Cole, I’m fine.”


“Too late. I’ve made up my mind and my mother always said once that happened, even a stampede wouldn’t get me to move.”


“You wouldn’t have lasted long in the wild west, then.”


“Nah, I’m a city slicker through and through. But I navigate the streets well.”


I look around to realize we’re already at his apartment building.


“Okay, I’ll have a glass of your special water. But then I’m leaving,” I point out and he laughs.


To be continued...

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