The Fault in My Therapist

(SPOILER WARNING! DO NOT READ THIS UNLESS YOU HAVE READ "THE FAULT IN OUR STARS!" This is a short sequel to John Green's, "The Fault In Our Stars." It is set after the death of Augustus Waters and it is about Hazel's journey through her grieving with an unexpected twist at the end.

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1. One

“How do you feel Hazel?”
I sighed as the patronising drawl of my therapist, Janet, echoed round the empty room. Positive posters lined the room; condescending messages painted in migraine-inducing bright colours. My eyes scanned the writing on each sign, trying to absorb the messages in the vague hope that they would make me feel something. Feeling anything was better than feeling numb.
“Hazel?”
My name drew me out of my bubble, re-alerting me to the presence of psychologist. “Sorry, I was just in my own world.” An awkward smile played on my lips.
“How are you coping?” A solicitous expression crept onto her face, filling me with unease.
“I’m fine.”
Janet raised her eyebrow subtly, “I’ve been speaking with your mother this week, ju-“
“You’ve been speaking with my mother?” I asked, my voice cracking slightly. If there was one thing I hated more than attending sessions with Janet, it was her speaking to my mum. I didn’t mind that cancer was destroying me, but I did mind that it was destroying my family.
“I was worried about you: you’ve been awfully closed in our recent meetings and I just wanted to check how you were doing.”
Taking a deep breath, I looked away, not wanting her to see the mist forming in my eyes; impairing my vision. “I don’t want you to speak to my mum. She’s got enough on her plate as it is and I don’t want to worry her any more than she already is.” My voice was calm but I could feel my heart pounding.
“I didn’t have a choice Hazel – if you won’t speak to me, I knew she would. Just try and open up to me and tell me how you feel. It might help, you never know.”
I flinched as she touched my knee affectionately, pulling away slightly. “You want to know how I feel?! I don't feel anything. Every morning I wake up, have breakfast and then lie in bed all day: just lying there for hours on end because I don't know what else I can do. It's like Augustus died and he took me with him. Only he didn't and I wish he had." A salty tear trickled down my face. I wiped it with my sleeve, feeling my cheeks flush bright red as I looked at the floor.
"Have you spoken to your mother about how you feel?"
Suddenly as I opened my mouth to speak, my chest closed up. I felt my breathing become more laboured and raspy, "It hurts..." I managed to utter. Each breath I took burned my lungs, inflaming my throat. "I need- I need my oxygen."
Janet shot up from her chair.
"I can do it." I told her through gritted teeth as I rose slowly, trying not to exert myself. There were sharp pains shooting through my body, sending spasms up my spine. I gripped the oxygen tank, pulling the tube from its holder and inserting it gently into my nose. Closing my eyes, I inhaled deeply through my nasal passages, trying to control my rapid breathing.
Relief flooded through me as I felt my lungs filling with air. "Sorry," I uttered sheepishly, hating the pitiful look on her face.
“Don’t be sorry.” Her face was calm but I could see the panic in her eyes. I took out my tube every time I’d seen her and it’d never caused me any issues. Today was different; today I actually inferred how I felt.
“Just take a minute.”

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“How was it then?” Mom’s perky voice sounded as I stepped into the car, lifting my oxygen behind me.
“It was fine.”
My heart ached, perhaps from my failure of a pair of lungs or perhaps because of the fact that this bore an uncanny resemblance to the first time I met Augustus. That hurt more than any cancer ever could.
“What did you chat about?”
I sighed, “Nothing of any importance. That woman just does my head in sometimes.”
Out of my peripheral vision I saw her eyelids droop, “Well as long as it was alright...” A deafening silence filled the air.
Drops of rain began falling from the dark grey sky that loomed over us. I turned to look out of the slightly grimy window, watching the rain create patterns, cavorting with the other droplets. “Can I ask you something mom?”
“Of course you can sweetie,” There was an evident glimmer of hope in her voice; I could have sworn I saw a smile cross her lips for a brief second.
“Do you miss Gus?” My voice sounded meek and pathetic.
“Gus was a very special person and I challenge anyone who knew him to tell me they don’t miss him.”
I nodded softly, “He was one of a kind.”
“He loved you very much Hazel.” My stomach dropped as memories of Augustus Waters crept into my mind, his smiling face entering my imagination. 

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“Miss Lancaster!”
I glanced over at Isaac, “That’s me.”
He placed his hand on top of mine, squeezing it gently. “Gus would be so happy if he could see you right now you know?”
“I know.” My voice came out as barely a whisper as I stood up slowly, lifting the handle of my oxygen. “Can you come in with me...?” It pained me so much to ask that question and for Gus not to be the recipient: it should be Gus.
Reaching his free hand up for support, he rose from the worn chair and linked my arm. “Let’s do it for that cocky son a bitch.”
My knees were shaking and my palms sweating as I lead Isaac through the door. 
“Hazel Grace Lancaster?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
“Is this your boyfriend?” The nurse asked, indicating towards Isaac who was clinging onto me for dear life.
A lump rose in my throat, choking me suddenly; stopping me speaking my thoughts. I shook my head gently, “No. We’re just good friends.”
Isaac put his arm around me comfortingly, “She’d be so lucky.”
I laughed as tears pricked my eyes once again, forcing me to bite my lip to stop them falling. My conscience wouldn’t stop reminding me that it should be Augustus accompanying me; no one else.
“Right, well would you mind lying down on the bed for me please? Your friend can take a seat just there.”
I angled Isaac’s body carefully, giving him ample room for him to find his own way with his cane. He liked being independent with his illness as much as I liked it with mine. Slowly I turned him to lower him into the arm chair, leaning him back until he was supported enough.
I grinned uneasily as I clambered onto the bed, pulling down the unflattering blue gown for the sake of my modesty.
“This might feel quite cold but I’ll be as quick as I can be.”
A flow of cold air rushed to my stomach as the nurse moved the fabricated dress. I pinched my eyes shut so I couldn’t see her standing over me; as much as I wanted to savour every single moment, I was absolutely paralysed with fear.
“Don’t be nervous, it’ll be over in a moment.”
The moment the cold gel touched my skin I flinched, goose bumps spreading like a rash over my body. Sensations ran up my spine. Feeling myself begin to relax, I turned my head to the side to monitor the screen. There were numbers littering the display but none of it made any sense to me – I was just looking for the picture.
“There we go.” The nurse stepped backwards, wrapping the chords around the machine and grinning at me. “Just give the machine a few moments and then we’ll be able to see what’s going on in there.” I felt an overwhelming sense of de ja vu with the nurses patronising attitude.
The screen flickered.
The scan of my beautiful baby boy appeared on the monitor.

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