Southern Constellations

Romany Fitzgerald wishes one day to lead a frivolous and harmonic life pursuing her dreams, but first, she must complete the exhausting challenge of being an actual teenager. Romany believes her vicinity is filled with people who just do not understand, in fact, nobody understands. Most of all, there's a person she would give her left arm to avoid.

Austin Orion.

Hell-bent on bringing beautiful chaos into Romany's life, can Austin and Romany build a steady friendship on the ruins of a lifetime of hatred? This seems far too surreal for Romany, but she is unknowing of the hell and torment waiting for her around the corner; she was yet to lose possibly the most important thing she had in the world; music.
But she still has the constellations for guidance; looking for answers in a world that doesn't know the question, can Romany delve deeper into what is meant to be and follow her heart?

Did fate fall short this time?

A/N: Rated red for bad language and trauma.

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10. Ten

THIS IS A TRIGGER WARNING. From this chapter onwards there are themes of trauma/illness. You have been warned.

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Six weeks in, and my tutoring was going well. So well, in fact, that not a thing in the world could prepare me for the news I would hear that day. My eyes glimmered with hope as I wandered the short journey to Lillian's. She often had some wonderful concoction baking in the oven, whether it be her beautifully homemade cookies, or almond cupcakes, which were beginning to become a favorite of mine at Lillian's.

I hadn’t been there for a week or so, Lillian had been sick with the flu, so told me to stay away for a while. Thankfully, she was on the road to recovery, and today was a wonderful Saturday for a lesson, I was told. I wandered up those same cobbled steps and along the same gravel pathway I'd grown so accustomed to in the past few weeks, it was almost like a second home now; I spent so much time there. My eyes skimmed over the wooden door painted a pretty forest green, and my knuckles tapped on the wood, waiting patiently for a reply. I eyed the front of the house, and I noticed a pot plant of carnations that were withering in the heat. My brows furrowed. Odd, I thought, Lillian always waters her flowers. I pulled out my water bottle from my bag and quenched the dying flowers from thirst.

A while later, Lillian eventually opened the door. My mouth gaped and my eyes widened at the sight before me. I felt a huge weight rest down on my heart. Lillian stood before me, her face pale and her hands fragile, an oxygen tube that connected to her nostrils hung loosely down her figure, joining a tank of oxygen on the floor. She had on a large oversized night gown and a large fluffy cardigan over the top.

"Lillian, I, what happened, I thought—"

Despite the pale woman that stood before me, she still had on her face the most heart-warming smile possible, beaming from ear to ear; now that was something I had to admire.

She hushed me quietly, "I'm fine, really," she smiled, "do come in."

I couldn't, not like this, I felt terrible.

"No, no, you look like you need some rest Lillian, I don't want to disturb you."

She insisted, taking me by the arm and guiding me into her living room.

"Lillian, I'm not sure this is a good idea, I understand if you're not up to it, I completely understand, we can do it another time."

She hushed me once more. It was heartbreaking seeing such a normally strong woman to have deteriorated so quickly.

"It's not the flu, darling." She says abruptly, looking at her intertwined fingers. I stare at her for a while, before she comfortingly places her hands over mine. They are cold and weak. "We can't do it another time."

I stare at her more intently, "W-what? Why? I don't follow."

"Listen, darling, this isn't easy to say. You need to know this." She looks me right in the eye. There's a long pause. Longer than any pause I've ever known in my whole life. "I've got a tumor, on my brain," she says, "I've had it for a while, now. It's inoperable. I didn't know how to tell you, darling, I'm sorry." I didn't even notice a tear slip down my cheek until the soft skin of her thumb wiped it away.

"So what are you trying to say?" I croak. My voice was almost inaudible.

"I've not got long, honey." The tears become more frequent now, and I can't help it, I really can't. She grips my hands tighter.

"How long?" is all I manage to ask before breaking down into muffled and quiet sobs.

"A few weeks. Maybe a month." She says, and I've never felt more angry, or upset, or miserable, or helpless in my entire life. This isn't fair! Something like this doesn't happen to wonderful, caring, beautiful women like Lillian.

My crying doesn't deteriorate, and neither does Lillian's comforting. Even though I should be the one comforting her.

"I've had a wonderful idea though," she said quietly, stroking my hair. "My son is coming home today, he normally lives with his father, but he's moving in for a couple of months with me. He plays the guitar, he could help you."

"Oh, gosh, Lillian, I'm not even worried about that; I just want you to be okay." I say, ever so slightly hysterical.

"I know, darling, I know you do." She exhales heavily, as if it's a bother just to breathe, which I supposed it was for her, "but you have so much potential, with your voice, I don't want you to give up."

"I won't Lillian, I promise." And I meant it, I whole-heartedly meant it that I wouldn't give up. "I'll get some help from your son if you want me to."

Outside, I heard a car door slamming, Lillian perked up. "Ah, that must be my boy."

I heard the front door open, I turned my head to see this boy and at that very moment, I felt my entire body unable to function, and my mind began to freeze over.

"Hello?" He called through the house. His eyes turned to face the kitchen, and then to the living room, where Lillian was still cradling me into her shoulder.

"Hello? Hell—"

He stopped. I stopped. Everyone stopped. The world stopped spinning for that very second. But most of all my heart stopped.

"Romany," he breathed, confusion and panic ablaze in his eyes, he was practically staring right into my soul. I couldn't find any words. My brain was a mess. I didn't know what to say. I was incapable of forming sentences and any sort of coherent sense. I was unable to function as a human being.

"Come on in," Lillian says, and he drops his bags to the ground with a thud, his eyes never leaving mine once. "Would you like some tea, dear?" she says casually, leaving the sofa and pottering into the kitchen.

"N—no thanks." He says, a perplexed expression settled firmly on this features.

"So are you two already acquainted?" she asked, pointing between the two of us.

"I guess you could say that." I choked out, still endlessly staring at him as if I cannot tear my eyes away. Of course, it all makes sense. The paintings; oh, the paintings, he'd never show anyone his paintings at school, he refused, and they're here, scattered around the walls, hundreds of them, and the music, of course, the music. The guitars hung on the walls, the racks and racks of CDs, and the way she talked about him, how stubborn and bad-tempered he was, but how he was a real sweetheart sometimes, how he was a right handsome boy, and all the girls would swoon over him, of course, of course, of… course. How could I not have known this? How could I have been so stupidly oblivious of the fact that the son of my singing teacher was Austin Orion?

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