|I turned the corner just in time to see a girl punch someone in the stomach. He doubled over and I watched as the girls started laughing before turning and walking away.
Sarah Carerra 3: Concerto in A-
Chapter 3.21 - Woe is Austin
by Megan Campbell
Copyright ©2012 Megan Campbell
Released: August 13, 2012
Editor Note: The images used for this story were purchased and used under royalty-free license* from iStockphoto.com . ~Sephrena
Author Note: Please email me at AngelJediGirl (at) gmail (dot) com before posting this story to any other site. Posting to a pay site is prohibited.
Comments and suggestions are also welcome at the above email address.
Sarah Carerra Book 3: Concerto in A-
Chapter 3.21 - Woe is Austin
The next week was a mix of ups and downs. On Monday I was able to miss a couple of classes when I was invited to appear on the Tonight Show again. I also made a number of after-school appearances at other events to help promote my name and my music after winning the top award at the Video Music Awards.
But I didn't have a single performance, and that made me sad. I didn't have another performance scheduled until the concert at my school in a couple of weeks. On Thursday afternoon I started to have withdrawals, as Dad called them. I had to get my guitar out and play some songs for my family, Ethan, and Emily to get them to disappear. I had no idea what I was going to do after the school concert when I didn't have a single performance scheduled until the Christmas concert two months later! I thought I would go crazy!
School went pretty well. I saw Jared Lumbart in the halls a few times but all he did was sneer. He left me alone, and I hoped that it would stay that way. My P.E. class had pretty much accepted me for who I really was, much to Amber Hartfield's chagrin. She was still intent on the notion that I was really a boy and there was nothing that I could do to convince her otherwise. I knew that she was still planning something by the way she kept glaring at me, but nothing had happened yet. I was keeping my eye on her, though.
It was the following Monday that school turned into a nightmare once again. But this time, it wasn't my nightmare. I was walking down the hall toward my class when it happened. I turned the corner just in time to see a girl punch someone in the stomach. He doubled over and I watched as the girls started laughing before turning and walking away.
Everyone who had been watching the altercation just stared at the boy. I moved toward him. Somebody needed to make sure he was alright.
"Are you okay?" I asked, dropping to my knees next to him.
The boy groaned before he looked up at me. The horror, the pain, the heartache that rushed through my body at the sight of his face almost brought tears to my eyes.
I gasped. It was Austin!
"Megan?" he asked, unsure if I was really there.
"What happened?" I asked, and then I pulled him into a hug before he could even respond. There were some gasps from some of the boys around us at my reaction, and I saw some envy in the eyes of the girls as I scanned the crowd for answers. None were forthcoming.
"I don't know," Austin croaked, and I could see that he was close to tears. I half expected him to push me away. I knew that he didn't want to look weak in front of the mostly freshman group that was watching us. "She just punched me!"
He honestly didn't seem to know, but when he looked up at me all I could see was a black eye that was already starting to form. That girl had more than punched him just once in the stomach. She had beaten him for some reason.
"Come on," I said while lifting him to his feet. "Let's get you to the nurse."
Austin sighed, but he didn't argue. He was in pain and he knew that he was going to need some type of attention. I reached back down and grabbed his bag before wrapping my arm around his waist. That got another gasp from some of the boys nearby. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with them.
Austin limped for a few steps before he stopped and doubled over for a moment in pain. When it passed we started forward again. He was leaning on me heavily and I hoped that he hadn't been hurt badly. The eyes of his classmates watched us until we turned a corner, and I still couldn't figure out why they were staring.
"If nothing else I'm getting some good street cred," Austin finally joked as we continued walking. I smiled to hear some of his witty personality breaking through the pain. He was starting to walk with less assistance now, and I hoped that the worst was already over.
We walked in silence for a bit longer before he spoke again.
"All those guys are going to be jealous, you know," he said, turning to look at me for a moment.
"Why?" I asked. I couldn't understand why anyone would be jealous of someone who had just been beaten up.
"Because you were doting on me," he replied, a wry smile told me that it was funny to him. "They think you are the hottest girl in school, you know."
I choked, and stopped walking. "What?!"
Austin was laughing now, though it looked like the motion was causing him some pain. "Yeah," he said once he had calmed down. "They pretty much idolize you. I know some of them hope you'll go to a dance with them."
I couldn't understand what I was hearing, and I started laughing. "But don't they know..." I asked. I was unable to finish the sentence though.
"No," he replied. I didn't have to tell him what I was asking about. "And you have to admit, nobody would ever guess that you weren't always a girl. You're too pretty."
I laughed, partially to hide my discomfort but mostly because my brother called me pretty. He'd done it before, and some of his friends had certainly had their eyes on me. But he was telling me that there was a whole subset of students at this school who had no idea I hadn't always attended classes as Megan. That was positive news, even if it had come at the cost of his beating.
"Okay," I said. "But don't they know I'm your sister?"
"Some of them," he replied. "But I haven't told many people. I told them we knew each other and that has caused some people to like me. But most of them don't know we're related."
I laughed again. Austin was a smart kid. He was riding the Megan Campbell popularity train that seemed to be occurring in the freshman year. I was happy to hear that something positive had come out of all the turmoil the past year had brought me. If my pain and suffering had brought some good to Austin's life, then it was all worthwhile.
"Come on," I said while lightly pushing him forward. "You still need to see the nurse."
He nodded, and we moved forward again. But it was only a few steps before we were both laughing our heads off.
Austin had just been unlucky, according to the principal. The girl who had punched him had been dared to punch the next freshman boy she came across by her friends. At least, that was her story. The girl was a sophomore and didn't even know Austin's name. She had just come up, swung at his head where she connected with his eye before also punching him in the stomach, which is what I had seen when I came around the corner. She and her friends had been suspended, but Austin didn't want to press charges.
Austin seemed to be okay with the outcome. The nurse gave him a clean bill of health other than some bruising, and he had this perverse belief that he had come out on top in the ordeal because of all the attention I had given him in front of his peers. I wasn't happy with the outcome, but it wasn't my decision to press charges. It was nice to know my parents felt the same way I did, but they had left the decision up to him.
I was worried about him the next day. I checked on him a couple of times between classes and even gave him a couple of hugs and kissed him on the cheek once. That seemed to go over well with his peers, and I was always happy to show him how much I loved him.
He had been in good spirits when I left him to go to Chorus, but when he showed up at my car after school for a ride home he was sad and despondent. He told me that nothing had happened to him, but I knew he was lying. He refused to talk about it, though.
When we walked in the door at home I was going to recruit my mom to try to find out what had happened, but instead I found Mom, Dad, and Amy sitting around the kitchen table waiting for me.
"Hello," I greeted them, curious about what was going on.
"Hi, Megan!" Amy greeted me. I didn't spend very much time around her without the wig on so the novelty of seeing me without it was still something that made her smile. My parents also greeted me.
"What's going on?" I had to ask when nobody started to explain what was happening.
"The American Music Award nominees were announced today," Dad finally said.
I felt my breath catch in my throat and my heart started to race at his words! It had only been a week since I had won my first awards, and now it seemed that I might be nominated for some more!
"And?" I asked excitedly.
"You've been nominated for four awards," Dad replied excitedly. "Favorite Pop/Rock Album, Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist, New Artist of the Year, and Artist of the Year."
My eyes widened, and I found myself taking a deep breath! I could understand being nominated for New Artist of the Year. I could even possibly understand being nominated for the Pop/Rock categories. But it still seemed so unlikely that I could be nominated for Artist of the Year already. But after the events of the VMAs I had to wonder if there wasn't some possibility that I could win the big award once more.
My dad handed me a paper that showed my competition in each category, and I couldn't understand how my name could be listed with so many big names in the music industry. I knew I had some good songs. 'You Can't Hurt Me' had just topped the VMAs. But those awards were for a single song. These awards were about much more.
"Congratulations, Princess," Dad said before he hugged me. My mom was next, and then Amy. Even Austin gave me a hug, which reminded me of his attitude before we had entered the house. I could tell that he was happy for me, but I could also see something else in his eyes when we broke apart. Something sad.
"Thanks," I replied automatically. Then I opened my mouth once more to ask Austin what was wrong. But the words didn't come. He saw me though, and he subtly shook his head. Whatever it was he didn't want to talk about it.
Mom didn't miss our exchange, however. Something had clued her in, and she voiced a question that made Austin cringe.
"How did tryouts for the soccer team go, Austin?" she asked.
I was still looking into Austin's eyes as she spoke, and I almost broke into tears at the hurt that he displayed for the briefest of moments before he caught himself and turned to our parents.
"I didn't make the team," he said in a downcast tone.
I had forgotten that today was the day that Austin was trying out for the Freshman JV team at our school. I had watched enough of his games to believe that he would make the team. I couldn't comprehend how this could have happened.
"I'm sorry," I said immediately, voicing all of my frustrations as I wrapped him in a hug. He burst into tears immediately. I was sorry he hadn't made the team. I was sorry that I had just taken all of the attention from our parents when he had something like this to deal with. This was the second event in as many days that had brought him to tears, and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
I held him as long as he let me, and eventually he left me for Mom's arms where he stayed even longer. All thoughts of my nominations were forgotten as he cried.
The next two days were uneventful, except for the number of times that I caught Austin crying at home. He always stopped when I walked in the room, but I knew he hated life at the moment. I wished there was something that I could do to help, but now that the initial burst of tears was over he didn't want me to help in any way. He didn't want me to make it better. Even worse, he didn’t think I could make it better.
I kept an eye on him at school more than usual. He didn’t know I was watching, but I changed the way I walked to my classes to allow me to pass by him in the halls. He always smiled when he saw me, and I smiled back. I hoped that it was helping. It seemed to be.
I was passing him on the way to Chorus Friday afternoon when my heart burst. I found him talking to Susan, his girlfriend, and another boy in one of the halls.
He was crying.
I stopped, close enough to hear, but far enough away that he hadn't noticed me.
"I'm sorry, Austin," I heard Susan say. I sighed. I knew what she was doing now, and it was the last thing that Austin needed right now.
Austin didn't say anything, but I could tell he wanted to. I hadn't seen him this upset in a long time. Susan stood there, waiting for a response. When she realized that one wasn't coming, she sighed.
"Let's go, Sam," she eventually said. She then turned and pulled the boy down the hall away from me while leaving Austin standing there in a daze.
I watched another tear stream down his cheek before he started to look around. When his eyes landed on me he burst into tears. I was at his side immediately, my arms around him. Some of the other students were staring at us, and I knew that Austin wouldn't want them to see him like this.
"Come on," I told him and directed him toward the door that would lead us to the parking lot. He didn't resist at all and it didn't take much work to get him into the front seat of my car. A couple of minutes later we were leaving the parking lot. Chorus was the last thing on my mind.
"Do you want to talk about it?" I asked him while he was chewing. He shook his head.
After leaving the school I had done the only thing I could think of to get his mind off of Susan. I had taken him to Alfredo's, his favorite restaurant. But it wasn't working. Austin hadn't said more than ten words to me since I had pulled him out of the doors of the school. I watched helplessly as he continued to replay the events in his head before sobbing once again. I wished there was something more that I could do for him.
"Sam's been trying to steal her from me since the very beginning," he finally blurted amidst more sobs. I nodded back at him while remembering a conversation we'd had in Cleveland over the summer where he had voiced that concern to me. "I loved her, Megan! How could she do this to me?"
"I don't know, Austin," I replied and placed my hand on top of his. "I don't know."
"But you're a girl!" he accused me. "Tell me how she could do this to me!"
I sighed, but looked him in the eyes. He was starting to break my own heart now.
"I honestly wish I knew, Austin," I said. "But I can't imagine ever hurting someone like she did. I don't understand how anybody could be that cruel."
Tears fell down his cheeks once more, but I saw him nod slowly. He wanted answers, yet I had none to give. My only experience with anything remotely like this was with Josh Holliday. He had hurt me deeply, but my pain had never been as great as what I could see in Austin. I knew that time would heal his pain, but that wouldn’t help him now.
We continued to eat, mostly in silence. I tried to help him as much as I could, but I was sure I wasn't doing enough.
Mom and I spent the night consoling Austin as much as we could. We watched some movies that he wanted to see. We fed him anything he wanted to eat. We did anything we could to ease his pain. Susan had only been his girlfriend for about four months, but by the way he was acting it almost felt like they had been married.
My dreams that night were tinged with the heartache and pain that I had witnessed over the last week. I woke up feeling depressed, wishing that there was something I could do to make Austin feel better.
My appointment with Mary on Saturday morning shed some light on things I could do to help him. I was willing to try anything at this point, but when I got back home Austin was gone. My dad had taken him out, and I had a feeling that Dad could help him more than I could right now. Austin had said it himself: I was a girl. I couldn't help him the way I could have if I really had been his older brother. I didn't know how to help him that way.
But I did know one thing that I could do. Something had been stirring in me since I had awakened this morning. It was something that I needed to do. It was something I couldn't do at home, where Austin might return at any moment.
I was at home only long enough to put on my wig, grab Sarah's guitar, and return to my car. Then it was only a short drive to my destination. The parking lot was mostly empty today. I knew a few people would be working, but as I pulled into my parking spot and entered Dad's office building I hoped that nobody was around.
Lucy wasn't at the reception desk, but the door into my area of the building was unlocked. When I entered I found a couple of people working at desks in the front area.
"Hi, Connie," I greeted. "Hi, Laura."
"Hi, Sarah," Connie and Laura replied. I wasn't exactly sure what either of them did for me, but I had made sure to learn the names of everyone working in these offices. "We didn't expect to see you this morning."
I lifted my guitar. "I need a quiet place to work on a song," I told them. "Will I disturb you guys if I do?"
"No," Laura told me, smiling.
"Okay," I replied. "I'll keep the door closed then to make sure."
"You don't have to," Connie said with a smile.
I smiled back and then headed down the hallway toward my office. I unlocked the door and entered the quiet room. I was about to shut the door when Connie's smile entered my head again, so I left it open. I walked over to the soft chair that looked out the window. I could see the ocean past the parking lot, and I was excited. I had purchased this chair after Dad had shown me the office for this specific reason.
I spent the next few hours in that room, lost in my own world. I poured my heart into that song. I poured my love for Austin. I poured my desire to tell him how much potential he has, how much he would be able to do in his lifetime.
He might not be enjoying life right now, but this was only a small portion of his life.
"Austin," I voiced after playing through the completed song one last time. "'Your Time Will Come.'"
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