Hazel Grace walked into the party store, with the familiar companion of her oxygen tank trailing behind her. The little nubs in her nose tickled as she reached the counter with the balloons.
"I would like a dozen black balloons please," she told the teenage girl behind the desk. The attendant was blonde, with her hair in a ponytail, wearing a red polo and black pants. She was probably 16 too, but hadn't contemplated the fact that some infinites are longer than others. She hadn't seen cancer steal the life of her one true love, and the air from her lungs. She hadn't seen death. So while Hazel Grace, who had lost more than one good friend to their own traitorous cells, the girl behind the counter could do nothing by comply with the wishes of the girl that could have been her.
Hazel Grace did as she often did while waiting for something; she noticed the universe. She noticed the way the cash register display was bluer than the last time she had been there. She noticed that she was standing almost directly under a vent in the ceiling, so that she was in the only cool spot in the area. She noticed the little girl that was temporarily lost when her mother left her line of vision. Hazel Grace noticed that Augustus would have loved to help her. Hazel Grace noticed that she didn't need it after about ten seconds. Hazel Grace noticed that it wouldn't have mattered to Augustus.
Getting into the car was a struggle. Hazel Grace could deal with getting through the doors of the store with the balloons. She could get the car keys out of her pocket, and unlock the trunk. What she could not seem to do was get all of the balloons in the trunk. Every time she tried to push half of the balloons in the other half would pop out. Eventually after many small pushes barely disturbed the balloons she was actually touching, she finally got all twelve balloons in. If she had known that as soon as she opened the trunk, one of the balloons would fly out immediately, she might not have felt so accomplished during the twenty-minute drive to the cemetery.
Finding the grave wasn't hard. It was the only one still mounded at the top of the hill. Mrs. Waters had called to say that the permanent tombstone had finally arrived, and Hazel Grace had to see it. Her mother offered to come with her, but she politely forced her mother to stay at home. She had visited Augustus by herself countless times before. There was nothing different about this time. At least there was nothing different that would warrant her mother tagging along.
The smooth grey stone had his name carved into above the dates of his birth and death. Hazel Grace felt like this wasn't enough. It said nothing of the scar he left on the world. It said nothing of the healing he wanted so desperately to accomplish, no matter the cost. Augustus wanted to leave the positive mark Hazel Grace allegedly was. The mark was only allegedly positive to Hazel Grace. She believed they should have written Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace on the gravestone because Hazel Grace died the day Augustus had. Sure Hazel was still actually there, still alive due to the miracle of Phalanxifor but Hazel Grace had died with Augustus Waters. The ghost of Hazel Grace haunted Indianapolis while Just Hazel thought of Augustus. Just Hazel had only ever been Hazel Grace in his presence and she would never be with him again. It didn't matter if Just Hazel could relax and forget that he had died. It didn't matter that she could sometimes almost believe that he would pick up if she called. She would never see him holding the cigarette that he never lit. She would never see him take another suicide mission in Counter Insurgence 2: The Price of Dawn. She would never see him eat the amazing food at Orangee again. He was Somewhere while she was here, clutching a bunch of black balloons, kneeling down next to tombstone.
The ends of the balloons caught on a rock that was far too light to hold them for very long. She waited for a moment, her hand on the smooth grey surface surrounding his name. The moment she turned around she would go back to being Just Hazel, so she waited, dragging the moment out for as long as she could. Hazel Grace waited until the last possible second before whispering, "Okay."
Just Hazel walked away from Gus's grave. Someone more spiritual would have said that the warm breeze she felt was Augustus back from Somewhere, but Hazel knew it was just the universe still trying to be noticed.
AN: I actually wrote this for my English final because we were doing a random free-write based around black balloons and the picture of Hazel at Augustus' grave popped into my head. I was not aware that the random free write would turn into my final. I don't like it very much, but that is mostly because I have trouble believing it. I don't really believe that Hazel would have shown up at his grave with black balloons. Its too forced, although Augustus might have liked the metaphor. I don't know, it's a better piece of my writing so I'm just putting it out there.
I hope you enjoyed reading it.