5 Times Hazel and Augustus Hugged.
A/N: As warned, sporadic updates are sporadic. But I'm on holiday now, so maybe less so.
The Second Time:
Mum had been suggesting it for ages. Support group. I argued for Pity Points, moaning about how I was getting worse and how my fragile sense of self might break with the dramatic outpouring of emotions that going back there would create from all the support and group-ness.
Mum was not buying any of it so, once again, I was back in the old cross shaped church.
It was the first time I had been back since Augustus. It made me feel weird. Not because I expected him to be down there, once again slumped aggressively in the plastic chair, or sitting uncomfortably in his wheelchair, watching Isaac eulogize, but because of all the looks I was getting. You know things are bad when dying children are giving you the sympathetic eye.
I stood there for a while, with my cart waiting patiently by my side, deciding if I should take the elevator. I could probably make it… Okay, I could possibly make it down the stairs. It's one thing to take the elevator; it's another thing to choose it of your own free will.
Thankfully a new girl, arrived. She was wheelchair bound and looked kinda nervous. I knew the look of an over rushed mother and offered to accompany her down. I was okay with taking the metal contraption on the grounds of doing a good deed. The mother gave a relieved smile and introduced us. June, ten years old, thyroid. I formed a conversation on the subject of our shared life taking disease as we travelled down.
Support group looked unsurprisingly normal. I swallowed. Of course I couldn't just slink in unnoticed. Not least because Patrick was already part way through his ball speech. He gave me a look as I made my way over to a spare seat next to Isaac and he continued when I'd manage to sit.
You could be so lucky! I sighed. So did Isaac. I swallowed and blinked a few times.
The typical routine followed. Hazel. Seventeen. Thyroid and mets in my lungs. I'm okay.
If I had proper lungs, that last bit might've been a loud projection. Instead it just took my breath a bit further away. I made a show of it in order to fend off any questions.
I tried to zone out. Staring at the floor I pretended I was at home on my bed. I was okay, mostly. Except for when I wasn't. That's not me being purposefully obtuse, it's just how things are. Heath, money, love. All okay until, suddenly, they're not.
And I was doing okay. I was almost through and preparing to congratulate myself on my excellent composure and poise until Lydia mentioned my name.
"I never knew Augustus well, but he always seemed… great. Strong. Like a leader, almost. Like Hazel he just remained so strong. They really were two of a kind. Hazel is already the strongest person I know, but now she's like… a goddess or a hero. She keeps soldering on and I admire that. I aspire to be like her".
For some reason, this inspired a ragged round of applause. I imagined myself, olive wreath on my puffy hair, shield and sword in my hands. Armour of bright, shining bronze chased with a glorious silver design on my body, weighing down my chest, growing tighter and tighter with each breath I failed to make.
I could hardly breathe.
A fumbling hand searched for mine. I gripped it and tried to control my erratic body.
"Want to get out of here?" Isaac asked quietly. I made a noise in assent and walked us over to the elevators, calling out a weak apology. I made it outside before I collapsed against the same wall that had witnessed the love between Isaac and Monica all those months ago. I dragged Isaac down with me awkwardly and he hit the ground a bit harder than we both expected. I was kinda crying when he let out a small noise of surprise at his sudden meeting with the ground.
It wasn't that Lydia had mentioned Augustus. That was fine. It was just… something. Something about the irony of going back down into the 'literal' heart of Jesus. Something about narratives and circles and the way that breathing was getting harder. Something that made me not okay.
"You know, this blind thing is kind of like being a dog. Sit, Isaac. Stay. Lie down."
"Roll over?" I suggested.
He declined the offer.
"What was said back there was pretty shitty". He pulled a face. "She should have left him out of it. They should all just… leave it alone."
"I know." I said tiredly. "But they're just trying to help".
He sighed. "I know."
There was a silence between us. There usually was, but it was comfortable, as though we had perpetually finished a pleasant and fulfilling conversation. That's what I liked about Isaac.
"I wish…" I started to form a thought and then realised how stupid it sounded. "I wish I had some basketball trophies right now". Isaac laughed.
"Nah, for this you need more than basketball trophies. Piano Recital participation awards at the least."
"MTV movie awards?" I offered.
"Please, Golden Globes. "
"Nobel Peace Prizes. I win. Calling blind man perks here."
I snorted. "Do people actually wear those? Because I don't see how beating up some old dude is going to make me feel better."
"Have you tried it? You never know."
Mum pulled up. I struggled to my feet and verbally offered my hand to Isaac, who let me pull him up with help from the wall. His mum had pulled up to so I lead him to the car, opening the passenger's side door. He reached up and gave me a clumsy hug, narrowly avoiding grazing my face. I lightly returned the gesture before his mum came round to our side to help him in.