They brought her gauge to the hospital because she wouldn’t stop talking about it, nor would she calm down until her head was resting in the braces and the rhythm of the stellar flares could lull her mind back into that special place.

“Nothing else will fix this,” she insisted.

“Fix what?” her son retorted from the corner of the room. If he sunk his body any lower in the chair, he’d fall off, sporting the iconic posture of a teenager.

Amelia glared at her brother. “Mom, you need to figure this out on your own. Gauging with Muscida does nothing for you here,” she said in what she hoped was the kindest way possible.

But her mother hadn’t noticed her tone. She sat on the bed with the gauge humming its way into her senses. Her mind was already light-years away, its synapses attempting to meld with the rhythm of Muscida’s electrical current.

Everything around Amelia’s family had crumbled over the last five years. Amelia, too, found herself gauging more and more. Taygeta was even farther away than Muscida, but feeling its energy made it seem close in a way that wasn’t physical, and that feeling helped carry Amelia through the days.

Her mother was the smartest woman she knew, and for that reason, she blamed her even more for her ridiculous decisions. Pretending to wait for a response, she stared at the tattered woman from across the room. Her breasts were enormous and lopsided, and her face held a weird symmetry to them by being lopsided too.

Amelia reflected on the surgery that had permanently pulverized her mother.

“If we go into your nose one more time, there’s a chance it will deconstruct completely. The cartilage is very delicate.”

“Well, if you’d done it right before, we wouldn’t be having this problem. Just don’t mess up this time.”

“Sheryl, it’s your composition as a person, not our performance as doctors.” Amelia remembered begging her mother not to go through with it. “Mom, you’re beautiful the way you are.”

“I am a star in Ursa Major, Amelia. When people look up at the sky, a majority of the time they see me.”

“Mom, you were matched with Muscida for a reason that plastic surgery has no effect on. It’s your DNA. It was the same DNA fifty surgeries ago as it is now.”

The doctor sat staring at the ground, unsure whether or not to interject.

Amelia’s mother slowly turned to face her. Her lips were so enormous that it was nearly impossible to tell her expression. “Maybe stars find connections with what’s on the inside. But people don’t care.”

@2015 Kayla Lewis