|Song: On A Tuesday In Amsterdam Long Ago|
|Artist: Counting Crows|
|Album: Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings|
|Played: 69 times.|
Hazel doesn’t bother readjusting the pillows behind her back. It won’t matter in a few minutes, anyway.
She closes her eyes, not being able to stand looking at the bleak, white hospital walls any longer, needing a distraction to block out the earth-shaking sobs of her father. And exhaustion. There’s something about dying that really takes the life out of you.
She’s surprisingly calm. This is what the past few years of her life have built up to. The climax to her short journey. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.
It’s been a good life.
Her fingers trace the familiar outline of the photograph in her hand. Its edges are frayed. A small smile flits across her face. She doesn’t even have to open her eyes to know what moment that little paper holds.
He’s taller than her by a whole head. It’s no effort for him at all to put his arm around her shoulder. Hazel’s arm is wrapped tightly around his waist. Her eyes are half closed, her mouth wide open in frozen laughter. They’re standing in front in the red light district, in front of the restaurant they ate at that night. “Oranje.” The two of them look beautifully perfectly happy.
She writes it off as a trick of her mind, induced by revelry. No one has called her Hazel Grace in a long time. She doesn’t even bother to open her eyes.
”Hazel Grace Lancaster.”
She know’s it’s just her mind but… It sounds so real. Could it be him? Reluctantly, she opens her eyes, knowing she’s in for disappointment.
He’s standing in front of her, in full beauty, looking just as healthy and pure and perfect as he did in that day in the picture. Just seeing him takes her already shaky breath away. She forgot how much light he had brought into her life.
”You’re… This isn’t real, Augustus. You’re not real. You can’t be. You’re… gone.” She falters on that last word. “Plus you have two legs!”
He smiles that sexy half smile, just like the day they had met. “It was waiting for me up in heaven.”
”So you are still… gone?”
”Dead, Hazel Grace. Just say it. It’s just a word.”
She rolls her eyes, flopping her head back onto her pillow. “Jesus, even in the afterlife you’ve got a flair for dramatics.”
”You wouldn’t have it any other way. Do you know why I was here for you?”
She shakes her head.
”You know how in movies, when someone dies, everyone they’ve ever loved is waiting for them in heaven? That’s not how it really works. I’ve been sent to get you. Hazel, you’re about to die. You’re dying. That’s why I’m here, so you take your first steps into heaven with someone who loves you more than the air that he breathes. Well, actually, used to breathe.”
She doesn’t think twice. “How do I come with you?”
He steps closer to her bed, digging around in his pocket. “Ah, here’s the rules they wrote me,” he clears his throat, “Number one. Trust me. Number two. Take my hand.” He makes a show of folding up the little paper and tucking it back into his pocket. “So what do you say?”
Hazel Grace doesn’t have to think twice.