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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12. Twelve

[TRIGGER WARNING]

 

 

It was two weeks since that day, and considering the circumstances, those two weeks could have been a lot unhappier. Although, saying that, it would only get progressively worse with time.

My phone rang on a normal Thursday morning of summer, around eleven thirty in the morning, I briefly glanced out of the window, it was a beautiful sunny day; the sun was beaming down, already high in the sky, brightening the street, and enticing the children out to play on the grass.

I grabbed my phone with a hint of a smile, I knew today was going to be a good day. Or so I thought…

"Hello?"

"Romany," It was Austin, he sounded out of breath, panting, and rather somber.

"Austin? What is it?"

 

I should have known.

 

"Get down here as fast as you can." He hung up and I didn't even hesitate or waste any time. I grabbed the first items of clothing I could find, an old hoodie that I didn't quite recognize and some jeans. I slipped my feet into some Chuck Taylors that were lying around too.

My mother stopped me as I ran through the kitchen.

"And where do you think you're going?"

My face was flustered and my hair was over the place and I was franticly racking my brain of a comprehensible sentence to reply with.

"It's—Lillian—" I was panting from running down the stairs, "Austin needs my help,"

I was hoping I wouldn't need a more detailed response than that, because I really didn't have time to waste, and neither did Lillian.

"OK," she sighed, "do you want me to come?"

"No, it's alright, I'll call you."

She nodded understandingly. I ran out the door as fast as I could, sprinting down the road as quick as my little legs would carry me, my feet pounded the concrete below me, and several people moved out of my way, concerned and shocked expressions on their faces.

I reached the door, out of breath, panting, gasping for air, desperate for oxygen. I doubled over, placing my hands on my hips as I breathed slowly in an attempt to calm myself down. The door opened, it was Austin. His face was pained, heartbroken, and distraught.

"The ambulance is coming now." He placed his hand on my back, guiding me inside. Just a simple gesture, but it gave me that little bit of reassurance that maybe, just maybe things would be okay.

Lillian was sat in the armchair, head back and mouth ajar to let in slow, shallow breaths. Her face was pale, paler than I ever thought was possible, her lips were pale, her skin was pale, her hands were fragile and weak, like porcelain.

I ran over and took her hand in mine; Austin grabbed the other.

"Lillian, it's me, it's Romany. It's going to be okay."

Her breaths were weak and frequent. But she even took the trouble to tilt her head and look at me. Her hand weakly grasped mine, Austin's too.

"Thank you," she whispered. A tear rolled effortlessly down my cheek; but I didn't even notice until Austin's thumb wiped it away. He cupped my cheek in his palm and gave me a sad smile before resting it reassuringly on my shoulder.

I took a moment to look at him; he was vulnerable, just like Lillian. I'd never seen him like this, and I didn't want to.

"Austin," Lillian breathed, his eyes shot up to look at her. He raised on his knees a little, to get closer to her face. He grasped her hands tighter, kissing them once or twice.

"Yes?"

"Promise me you'll look after Romany." My eyes dropped to the ground and more tears threatened to spill out of my eyes.

He didn't even hesitate.

"I promise."

"And Romany?" I lifted my head to return her pale, exhausted gaze.

"Yes, Lillian?"

"Promise you and Austin will look out for each other, you are my two favorite people, it's been a pleasure knowing you over the last three months and I've seen the way you look at each other," she stopped for a moment, and I glanced at Austin. His eyes were honest, like I'd never seen before; he looked so vulnerable, innocent, defenseless, powerless, hopeless. That moment could have lasted a lifetime. "I know you haven't always seen eye to eye, but you kids, you're smart, you're good kids." She let out a long, breathless cough. "You need to stick together, because you two have something, and over these last two weeks, I think you've noticed that too." The silence was growing longer, and Lillian's breaths were becoming more infrequent, and shallower, and more desperate to cling onto life.

"Just promise me."

"I promise," Austin and I said in unison. The tears were no longer holding back, and were flowing freely. Lillian was crying. Austin was crying. My heart hurt. It hurt so fucking much. She grabbed Austin's head, and brought her lips to his forehead.

"Take care of yourself son," his body was shaking, and the tears were dripping onto Lillian's hand. He nodded in response. She grabbed my hand and looked me right in the eye. She motioned for him to come closer to her, and she whispered something in his ear; something I didn't hear, maybe I didn't need to hear, or I didn't want to hear, whatever it was, it made Austin cry harder.

"I love you." He said, resting his forehead on the back of her hand.

"I love you so much, darling. And Romany, don't you ever stop singing." She exhaled deeply, "I love you both."

Suddenly the blaring of sirens breached the never-ending silence. Her mouth slowly relaxed, and her eyes fluttered closed.

"No," Austin breathed, "no, this isn't happening." His head bowed once again to her now limp and lifeless hand, and he kissed it, letting his salty tears scatter her skin.

I couldn't comprehend that I'd never again hear her delightful laugh, and see the way her eyes would crinkle ever so slightly when she did so. I'd never be able to thank her for everything she'd done for me, not only to do with the singing, but also the fact she had almost been like a second mother; with whom I could share my problems or worries about the world. She would never complain, she would grasp any opportunity with open arms, and she was the biggest lover of life I knew. Things like this shouldn't happen to people like Lillian.

A group of ambulance paramedics charged through the door, looking from side to side until they noticed us. We were told to move away so they could do what they had to do. I didn't know what was going on, or what they were doing, but I knew it was pointless, she was already gone. Austin cradled me in his arms, letting his poignant expression settle on his face. His warm, despairing tears fell hopelessly into my shoulder and mine into his chest.

He cupped my face in his large, calloused hands. His watery eyes met mine; his usually beautiful, warm caramel orbs were wounded and desolate. It was like he was crying out for help, screaming inside, hurting like nobody else, he was helpless, lonely and without hope. And there was nothing I could do to stop this hurting.

He rested his forehead against mine and closed his eyes. I did too, I couldn't face the paramedics any longer. I wanted it to stop; I wanted it to all be a horrendous nightmare. But it wasn't.

I held onto Austin's face too. Just the two of us. We were all we had. A tear slipped from Austin's eye, dripping down his nose onto my cheek. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him close. I cried into his shoulder harder than I’d ever cried before. Austin was shaking under my embrace, physically shaking. It hurt, a lot. This shouldn't happen to anybody. I cried until I couldn't physically cry any more. I was exhausted, worn out, drained, pale faced, breathless, tired, distraught, unable to cope with life any longer. And that wasn't even the start of it.

 

"Um, hel—hello? Sorry to disrupt you, I know this is a hard time."

We separated from each other's arms and faced the paramedic.

"I'm sure you're aware, Lillian here was gone before we arrived." We nodded in response.

"Was there anything we could have done?" I ask, curious.

"I'm afraid not, as you know, she was terminal, nothing could be done." He gave us his condolences before Lillian was taken away on a stretcher. "You two best get some rest, it's been a hard day, I'm sorry for your loss." He placed a sympathetic hand on my shoulder and gave us a sad smile. Was he really sorry though? That's what they all say, they didn't know her, they didn't know me. Was he just saying that to make me feel better? Because it sure as hell didn't.

From here on out, it was Austin and I against the world.

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