TFIOS alternate ending: The Change in Our Worlds.

Written for the TFIOS contest, this is an alternate ending to John Green's masterful work in which he explains the fault really is in our stars.

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1. Short Story

The Change in Our Worlds.

Prologue

What I’m doing isn’t wrong. It’s not. I know people think suicide is a bad thing but it’s not. It’s good. I can be with Gus. We’re nearly together, Hazel Grace. Everything will be perfect again. We can live in a place where there’s no cancer to stop us being together. No stupid oxygen tanks being wheeled around 24/7. No prosthetic legs. Me and Gus can run around without any disabilities. You’ll be able to breathe when we run around. I’ll be normal too. Just the two of us. I can see him smiling at me now, waving. Go on, Hazel. You’re nearly there. “I know, Gus. I know.” I’m right here. Okay? As I step up onto the chair and slip the rope around my neck, I smile. This is right. This is what I’m supposed to do. I take a breath, close my eyes. And I kick the chair out from underneath my feet.

5 hours earlier

Since Gus died, everyone has assumed I’m depressed. I mean, yeah, I stopped talking for two months after. I mean literally, didn’t speak. For two months. Not to Isaac or mom or dad or to my new therapist. Mom decided the group therapy would be a bad idea: she thought every time I went it’d make me think more about Gus. Which it would. Everything makes me think about Gus. I can’t even look at An Imperial Affliction anymore. The pages are stained with tears I can’t cry anymore; it’s like I’ve dried up. Isaac keeps coming round to see if I’m okay. God. Okay. I wish people would stop saying that. It’s his word. Our word. Okay.

“Hazel Grace Lancaster, you get your butt out of that room and come downstairs now.”

“Coming, mom.” I heave myself off my bed and slope downstairs. Isaac is here again, and I know I can’t make any more excuses to not talk to him. I’ve tried everything. My boyfriend died, I’m tired, it’s too late, I’m asleep. The works. “Hey, Isaac. How’s it going?”

“I’m good thanks, Hazel. How’ve you been? I feel like it’s been ages.”

“It has: I’ve been ignoring everyone. Don’t take it personally.” I smile and nudge him so he knows I’m kidding.

“I came by to say hi.” He smiled and held out his hand for me to take and guide him into the living room. “Oh, and Monica called. And I have no friends to talk girl with so I came here. Not that I’m not interested in your life.”

“It’s cool, it’s not like I’ve got anyone to talk about, right?” I smile. The ghosts of tears stung my eyes and threatened to spill over. I quickly drew breath and smiled again. “So what did she say?” I take a sip of coke and pass Isaac a glass too, putting it directly into his hands so he doesn’t drop it.

“She wants to get back together.”

“What?!” I splutter everywhere, choking slightly.

“Yeah, I know. She says she’s sorry she dumped me for having cancer and do I think I could ever forgive her?”

“What did you say to that?”

“I told her to go away and never call me again.”

“Good for you. What a horrible person.” I take a cigarette out of the packet in my pocket and put it in my mouth. “You’re better off without her.”

“I know right?” he laughs, and takes the cigarette I’m holding out.”Which is why I’ve started dating again.”

“No way! Oh wow, who is she?! Gimme details, boy. Is she hot?”

“Totally. And she doesn’t care that I’m blind: she thinks it’s unimportant, but like, not in a bad way. Do you know how refreshing that is? To have someone guide you around a mall without them saying, ‘Are you okay?!’ every five seconds and guiding your hand to each individual button of the elevator. It’s amazing!”

“Aw, Isaac, I’m so glad you’ve found someone! What’s her name?”

“Kaitlyn. Cute, right?”  he looks shocked when I spit out coke again.

“MY KAITLYN? As in, from school?!”

“Yeah..sorry, Hazel. Do you mind? I won’t go out with her again if you don’t want me to, honest.”

“Mind?! I’M THRILLED! Kaitlyn’s such an idiot when it comes to guys, she’s always going out with jerks who dump her after a week, but you’re so not a jerk! Oh my goodness, Isaac, I’ve never been happier!” by this point my cigarette is falling out of my mouth I’m smiling so much. Mom comes in to collect our glasses and frowns.

“Hazel and Isaac, you know the rules: no metaphors including things that drop ash in my living room!”

“Sorry, Mrs. L, we’ll go elsewhere.” Isaac says, grinning.

“Thank you, Isaac, but you don’t have to leave. Just don’t spill ash onto my couch.” She says, nudging him so he can tell she was kidding.

“It’s cool, Mrs. L, I’m taking Hazel to the mall now.”

“Okay, guys, have fun!” Mom hands me my car keys and twenty dollars as we head out the door and smiles. “Drive safe!”

We’re just parking up when Isaac suddenly turns to me. “Are you okay, Hazel? I mean, I know you’re talking again and eating properly and laughing and stuff but-“

“Isaac, I’m fine. Honestly. I mean, yeah, my boyfriend died. But that was 4 months ago, Isaac. I’m over it. Honestly.”

“Are you sure? Because I-“

“I’m sure, relax.”

We walk into the mall and head straight for our favourite coffee shop, ‘Espresso Yourself’.  Months on from discovering it we still find that hilarious. I guide Isaac to a seat and head to the counter to order our usual, a skinny white latte for me and a caramel macchiato for Isaac. I hand my money to the barista and then suddenly it changes. I feel a sort of shift. I look around, wondering if it’s the start of an earthquake or just my imagination. And I see him. Stood over by the fountain. Augustus Waters, looking as beautiful as ever in jeans and his favourite shirt. Blue chequered. He used to wear it all the time because I said he looked hot in it once. And there he is. I take the coffees and wander back to the table, my hands shaking as I hold the tray. Isaac hears me put it down heavily and reaches for my hand. He feels me shaking.

“Hazel? You alright?”

“Yeah.. I-I-I’m fine. I..th-thought I saw..never mind.” I realise I sound crazy. If I start shouting around that I’m seeing my dead boyfriend they’ll lock me up for sure. “It’s fine. Just thought I saw a girl I met at camp a few years ago! Weird right?” I sound overly perky and am wondering if Isaac can tell. He looks suspicious, then shrugs.

“Alright then.. hey, want to go to the bookstore?” he grins: he knows full well he’s found my weakness.

“Oh, if you really want to.” I giggle back and we swing our arms and skip down.

I’m picking up books to read the covers when I feel that same shift. Hazel. Woah. I definitely heard something there. Hazel Grace, why are you ignoring me? I look up to see Gus standing right in front of me. “Gus?” I whisper softly. Hey, Hazel. Gus smiles and his eyes crinkle up in the way they always did. This can’t be real. I know that. It can’t be. This is insane. “Gus, you’re not there.” I keep whispering. If I say it any louder people will see me talking to myself. I can kiss goodbye to college: I’ll be sent off to a loony bin. “This isn’t real, this isn’t real, this isn’t real.” This is real, Hazel. Don’t be stupid, of course it is. You can see me, can’t you? Of course this is real. Here, hold my hand. Suddenly I see him reaching out for me. I find myself holding out my hand too. We’re about to touch. I can feel his hand on mine now, entwining our fingers like he always used to. “How is this possible, Gus? You’re dead. This can’t be real.” I can feel you, Hazel Grace. You feel so warm. Alive. This is real, I promise. Okay? “Okay.” I whisper. Gus is back. How else would he be doing this? Of course, he must still be alive! The doctors made a mistake, obviously. Because he’s here and I can feel him. I’ve got to tell Isaac, he’ll see him too and everyone will realise they were wrong. Gus didn’t die. Another boy in hospital died and Gus has been here the whole time.

“You ready to head off, Hazel? Your mom wants us back in 20 minutes.”

“Isaac, feel this!” I’m still holding Gus’ hand but I guide it towards Isaac’s and I watch Gus pat Isaac on the arm. How’s it going, buddy? You missed me?

“What is it, Hazel? I can’t feel anything.”

“Very funny, Isaac, come on. Tell me what you feel. And you can’t pretend you can’t hear him either, I’m not falling for it.” I’m grinning from ear to ear at this point. Gus is back, we’re all together. It’ll be just like old times.

“Hear what, Hazel?” He’s kidding, Hazel. Of course he can hear me. I’m right here: this is real.

“Gus, of course! He’s right behind you, patting your arm? Who did you think it was?” I’m laughing like crazy now, wiping tears of joy from my eyes.

“Hazel..nobody’s touching my arm. You’re the only one talking. What are you on about? Gus isn’t here, sweetie. He’s not here.”

“Of course he is, idiot. He’s right behind you. Obviously the doctors made a mistake and he’s been alive this whole time! Don’t you feel stupid? I do, imagine! We’ve been thinking he’s dead the whole time. How funny is that?” I’m still laughing.

“Oh yeah, how funny! Um, come on, Hazel, I don’t feel well. Hey, how about we get a cab home? I don’t want to throw up in your car: you can come get it tomorrow.”

“Yeah, good idea.” I feel Isaac’s hand on my arm and start leading him to the bus bays where cabs wait too. “Mom won’t mind. Come on, Gus, we’re going.”

“Yeah, come on, Gus.” Isaac says. His voice is shaking slightly and he feels unsteady. He did say  he wasn’t feeling good though, he’s probably just getting flu.

We hop into a cab and get home in 15 minutes. “Come on, Gus, just wait until mom sees you! She’ll be so scared, but just explain that they made a mistake. Come on, Isaac, your mom’s car is parked outside.” Alright, Hazel, let’s go in. Mrs. Lancaster’s gonna flip! He winks at me and takes my hand. I lead Isaac inside with my other hand and call for mom.

“Mom! Look who’s here!” I push Gus through the door first and stand there grinning, while mom looks at me, slightly confused.

“Yes, sweetie, we already knew Isaac was with you. His mother’s here to pick him up.”

“Ha ha, very funny. Good job texting our moms ahead of the game to make them pretend too! It’s Gus, mom, obviously! See? The doctor’s made a mistake: he’s alive! Isn’t it great news?” I grin at her, waiting for her to burst into tears or smile or get up and hug him. But she doesn’t. She looks scared.

“Um, Hazel..why don’t g- why don’t you take Augustus upstairs and hang out in your room for a bit? I’ve just got to make a call.” She smiles at me, so she must’ve seen him. Phew! I was getting tired of everyone pretending they couldn’t, it was making me feel like they thought I was crazy.

“Come on then, Gus.” I take his hand again a squeeze it, smiling. “Bye, Isaac, see you soon. Good luck with Kaitlyn.” I say, nudging him.

I walk upstairs to my room with Gus following me all the way. I hear mom talking hurriedly on the phone. Must be one of her friends: they’re forever gossiping.

So, Hazel Grace. Have you missed me?

“Of course I have, you idiot! Why didn’t you tell me you were still alive? I stopped talking for two whole months ‘cause of you!”

Sorry, Hazel. I just wanted to give you some time alone. I won’t leave you again.

“You promise? I can’t let you say that if you don’t mean it.”

I promise. But, you know, there is a way to make definite sure I’ll never leave.

“Really?! Well tell me, I’ll do anything. I love you, Augustus Waters, and I’m not letting you go again.”

I’m here for you, Hazel Grace, but I’m not real. I need you to become like me, then we can be together for always.

“How can you not be real? Idiot, you’re alive.”

No, Hazel. Only my spirit is alive. Your body and your spirit is alive so we’re too different. You need to kill your body before we can be together. It’s easy. It doesn’t hurt, I promise. Not one bit. Okay?

“Okay.” I smile, relishing the feeling of knowing that our word is back, that it has meaning again. Because he’s back. I take the rope I had for camping out of my closet and tie a knot in it. With a loop big enough to slip over my head. All the times I went to girls’ scouts come in handy know, as I know exactly what to do to tie the right know. I set up a chair under my bars of lamps screwed into the ceiling. I tie the rope onto the bar and lower myself onto the floor with it to check it can hold my weight. It can.

What I’m doing isn't wrong. It’s not. I know people think suicide is a bad thing but it’s not. It’s good. I can be with Gus. We’re nearly together, Hazel Grace. Everything will be perfect again. We can live in a place where there’s no cancer to stop us being together. No stupid oxygen tanks being wheeled around 24/7. No prosthetic legs. Me and Gus can run around without any disabilities. You’ll be able to breathe when we run around. I’ll be normal too. Just the two of us. I can see him smiling at me now, waving. Go on, Hazel. You’re nearly there. “I know, Gus. I know.” I’m right here. Okay? As I step up onto the chair and slip the rope around my neck, I smile. This is right. This is what I’m supposed to do. I take a breath, close my eyes. And I kick the chair out from underneath my feet.

Okay.

 

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