Spring of Choice
*I claim no ownership of the characters of "Tuck Everlasting." I'm just writing this to make myself feel better because I didn't really like the melancholy ending to the movie. I'm a bit of a romantic and I like happy endings. I admit, the end was probably the right thing for Winnie to do, but I don't care. I want them to be together dammit!! According to what I've gathered from the other fics here I would classify this story a "what if Winnie drank the water" fic. Hee hee… I read the book when I was in middle school and I don't remember much other than the fact I enjoyed reading it. This story describes characters as they were played in the movie, I hope I have details right! I'll read the book again soon…but for now, I hope that you enjoy this alternate ending. It will probably consist of 7 or 8 chapters. Please R&R, It's always helpful to hear what people have to think. I'm not really a writer, and I am only when I get REALLY inspired. (I've had this story running through my head for two days now; I think I'll go crazy if I don't write it down!) Enjoy!
Chapter 1- Bubbles of Memory
"Winifred!" Mrs. Foster's shrill voice rang through the house like an overblown flute. " Winifred! Are you ready? He will be here any minute!"
Winnie gave one final glance at the mirror. Her and her mother had spent all afternoon fussing over hair and dress and jewelry in preparation for their dinner guest that was coming that night. But Winnie failed to match her mother's enthusiasm. The 17-year-old girl that glanced back at her from the mirror looked very different from what she was used too. Her eyes and lips were tinged with a tiny bit of makeup, she rubbed the back of her hand at the rouge coloring on her too-pale cheeks to try and lessen the china-doll effect her mother had managed to inflict upon her. And her luxurious long dark hair was pulled back from her face and twisted on top of her head.
"I started wearing my hair up when I came to be your age." Her mother had said with pride in her eyes. "You look very much like a respectable young lady now."
Winnie pursed her lips and with a rebellious tug, she pulled out the long ivory hairpin. The thick curls fell down over her shoulders.
"Much better." She told herself with a smirk. She knew her mother would be cross. But she didn't really feel like pleasing her at this particular moment, especially because the man who was coming for dinner was the top of her mothers list for potential suitors. "I will NOT marry! Not HIM at least…"
"Coming!" Winnie stood up and just as she turned to leave a gust of wind blew her window open with a bang. She jumped around, chilled instantly by the cold wind. Spring was coming, but the winter night was still put a chill in her bones. And when summer arrived, she would be 18.
"If he doesn't come by then… he never will…"
She shook her head, not wanting to think about the consequences of her eighteenth birthday, then hastily shut the window and left her room.
Whenever she thought of Jesse Tuck, a lump would rise in her throat and butterflies began doing acrobatics in her stomach. It was an all-to-familiar feeling and she didn't like it.
"No use crying over what you yourself threw away …" she thought to herself crossly. "Don't think about it!"
Her thoughts shifted instead to her mother's dinner guest. She paused before continuing down the stairs and meeting her parents in the Foyer.
"Act just like a friend, and nothing more! And then this new suitor will completely abandon the idea of marriage." She'd told herself this for the hundredth time that day. Sadly, it was the best plan she could come up with. She'd long since abandoned her attempts to get her mother to leave her alone on the matter of marriage. No one would force her into anything, that was already decided, however Winnie was still constantly bantered with dinner parties, gatherings, outings, and any other excuse her mother could think of to get her to meet the rich, young and powerful men of the steadily growing town of Tree Gap in hopes that she might fancy one and hook him into marriage.
"Ah! Winifred, there you are." Her mother had a lace handkerchief in her hands and was twisting it back and forth in agitation. Her eyes fell on Winnie and narrowed. "You took down your hair! Go back and put it up again."
" Now Martha…" Mr. Foster stood off to the side; "She looks lovely with her hair down. She reminds me of you when we first met."
Mrs. Foster shot him a glance. "I was twelve at the time, or had you forgotten that, Robert?"
Mr. Foster took a deep breath, as if stalling to think of something to reply, but luckily was saved by the doorbell.
"He's here!" Her mother bustled to stand beside Winnie and began fussing with her hair. "No time for it now… Goodness Winifred, stand up straight! And stop twiddling your fingers like that…be polite!"
"Yes mother…" Winnie said through clenched teeth, doing as she was told.
With the household in position, Mr. Foster opened the door and Winnie saw Mr. Jackson for the first time.
He wasn't bad looking, but not nearly as beautiful as Jesse Tuck. This had been her first impression. She now sat across from him at the dinner table, and found herself comparing him to the only man she'd ever loved, and sadly lost…
"Don't think about Jesse…" she'd said those words in her mind countless times in the last three years but it was always easier to say than do. This time she really wished she could just forget about him. No matter what she ate it ended up tasting like wood. Her mother was making polite conversation with their new guest.
"Please tell us, Mr. Jackson. Where did you live before you came to Tree Gap?"
"Oh! New York, Madam. Frightfully busy and loud." Jackson said with enthusiasm.
He talked and talked and talked, but not loudly and with the utmost courtesy. Winnie noticed right away that he was definitely the social type, which is probably why her mother liked him. And the more she watched him, the more she realized how different he was from Jesse. Jesse was soft spoken and kind hearted, he was strong, yet fragile, and had a way of looking at you like he understood who you were right at a glance. This man sitting across from her was stuffy and polite, and when he looked at her she got the impression that she wasn't even there.
"He's a male version of my mother…" she thought to herself.
"Winifred?" Her mother said soothingly. Winnie's train of thought stopped abruptly, she turned her head quickly to regard her mother. Mrs. Foster gave Winnie a "Don't ruin this for yourself," look of warning.
" Will you answer Mr. Jackson's question, please?"
" Oh!" Winnie glanced at him nervously; she had been so lost in her own thoughts that she hadn't even heard what he'd asked. "I'm sorry, Mr. Jackson but would you repeat the question?"
He exchanged looks with Winnie's mother, who in turn glanced at her father. It was apparent that Mr. Foster was determined to stay out of the whole conversation, and looked quite intent on carving the rest of the roast beef.
"Your mother was just telling me what a charming piano you played. Would you do me the honor of performing a small piece after our supper?"
"He is way too eloquent for his own good." She thought to herself. A sudden sadness washed over her.
" Perhaps…" She said softly, she tried to force her mouth to smile, but it wouldn't work. Seeing him had made her think of Jesse Tuck. Comparing them brought back such memories that she had worked hard to forget. But now they came back unwilling. Telling herself to forget would not work anymore. Visions bubbled up inside of her, memories of those few precious days when she'd stayed with the Tuck family. She thought of Ma and Pa Tuck, so kind and thoughtful towards her. She remembered Miles and his painful past. And most of all Jesse… Jesse laughing and dancing and running and talking of faraway places she longed to see. She could see his dark, beautiful face, his soft hair falling in waves framing his sparkling eyes as blue as the sky. She remembered his dimpled smile and the way he'd held her closely to him, so strong... She could see him looking at her by the light of their tiny campfire, when she'd given him her first kiss.
"I love you Winnie Foster." His voice was in her head. "I'll love you until the day I die." Tears sprang to her eyes unwilling, threatening to brim and overflow.
"Winifred? Are you all right?" It was her mother who brought her back to reality again. Only this time Winnie couldn't control herself, she stood up abruptly and gave a shallow curtsy.
"Please… excuse me! I…I don't feel so well…" And she turned and fled towards the stairs to the sanctuary of her bedroom. She closed the door and collapsed on her bed before the first tear had time to slide down her cheek.
It wasn't long before she could hear her parents saying their goodbyes to their guest and her mother's hasty apologies for her daughter's "unusual behavior." Any minute now they would come upstairs. She knew what they would say, her father would try to calm her and use reason to understand what was wrong. Her mother would complain about ungratefulness. It was all old news to her. Winnie curled up into a ball as the first knock came at the door.
"Come in." She said, trying hard to make her voice steady.
"Winnie…" It was her father. Slowly, she sat up and rubbed her eyes as he came into the room and sat next to her on the bed. "What's wrong darling? Can you tell me?"
" Nothing. I'm fine. I was just a little sick." She lied.
" Your mother is very worried…" He was hesitant as he spoke, as if treading on thin glass. Winnie looked away.
" I don't want to get married… yet…"
" I know that darling, no one is forcing you to do anything. Your mother just wants you to meet with these people, get to know some of them. We don't expect you to marry anyone."
"Then why does she always mention it?" Winnie's voice took on a slightly panicked tone. "Every time we have someone for dinner she says it! 'Winifred, a woman your age should be engaged by now!' I'm sick of it! It's not what I want!"
"Shhh…" Her father put an arm around her. Winnie was no longer able to hold back and she gave way to more tears. " My darling Winnie… I'm sorry. I'll talk to her, I promise. But your mother is stubborn and set in her ways. Believe me when I say that she only wants what is best for you."
" You only want what you think is best for me." She pulled away from him and looked him in the eye, choking down another sob. She had to stop this childish crying. She rubbed her eyes with her sleeves vigorously. Her father handed her a handkerchief and she blew her nose.
"We only want to make you happy." He finally said, after she'd managed to calm herself.
Winnie pursed her lips, and finally said, " Then let me make myself happy. Let me live my own life, not the one that you both want me to live."
She didn't say, "Let me be with Jesse Tuck." But it was on her tongue. Talking about the Tuck Family was not allowed in her parents home.
Her father looked puzzled, nodded slowly and rose from the bed. "You just need more time… Perhaps we pushed you too fast…yes… maybe we did…"
She sighed and looked away. There was no way to make either of them understand. But she respected the fact that her father made the attempt.
Her father gave her a gentle squeeze on the shoulder and left the room. Winnie waited for his footsteps to disappear down the stairs. Maybe this time her mother would stop insisting she attend these ridiculous dinner parties… but the chances of that were slim to none. The thought of marriage to someone other than Jesse made her feel nauseas. This man who had come tonight had done nothing to her and yet she disliked him for no reason. She felt guilty, he was polite, and she was sure he would be kind to her if she only gave him the chance. He probably would make a very secure husband, which was exactly the sort of thing a woman needed, according to her mother. Winnie saw the sense in that. However, she knew that it was not the life she wanted to lead. She did not want to live like a caged bird all her life, she'd done that enough. Marriage to Mr. Jackson would do nothing but move her from one prison to another. Jesse Tuck had shown her what life outside her iron fence was like and she yearned for it again. Even if it meant living forever, she realized that she wanted to do it. And like a bolt of lightning, it hit her. After three years of struggling with the decision that literally meant life or death, she realized that her heart had already chosen Jesse. Drinking the water was no longer important, only him. She had to be with him. Her eyes crinkled up, spilling tears. Emotions so long hidden surfaced and overflowed.
"I love you Jesse…" She whispered. "If you come for me… I'll go with you. I will!" Turning over with her arms clasped tightly to her chest, Winnie glanced at the window. "But God knows where you could be right now…"