Common Ground

“Hey, is this seat taken?”

“Hey. No, help yourself.”

“Thanks.” The short-haired girl wheeled what looked like an oxygen tank to a spot beside her and sat down. She had some tube around her head, leading up into her nose.

“That looks like it sucks.”

The girl grinned. “Yeah, it does.”

“Hey, I’m sorry I said that.”

“No, it’s okay.”

“What’s it called?”

“This thing? It’s a nasal cannula.” She indicated the tube. “It’s connected to Philip, my oxygen tank. I need them to breathe.”

“Don’t mind me, I have a big mouth.” The long-haired brunette extended her hand. “Tiffany.”

“Nothing to be sorry about. I’m Hazel.” She shook Tiffany’s hand.

“You really gave your oxygen tank a name?”

Hazel grinned. “Haha. Yeah. I didn’t really have anyone I could talk to for a long time, so I ended up talking to him. So he needed a name.”

“Are you sad Hazel?”

The short-haired girl was mildly shocked at Tiffany’s direct question. So shocked that she actually answered the question. “Yeah. I lost someone… special.”

“Damn. That really sucks. And I’m an idiot.”

Before Hazel could reply, the waitress brought their coffees within seconds of each other.

“Hey,” said Tiffany, “you in a hurry?”

If Hazel was feeling dubious about the girl, she wasn’t showing it. “Um… not really?”

“I know a great place to nurse these coffees. C’mon.” She got up and grabbed the handle of the oxygen tank. “Too many people here anyways.” She took off towards the cafe doors. Hazel, tethered to the tank by the tube, had little choice but to follow after her.

They ended up a short walk away, at a bench overlooking the bay. Tiffany wheeled the tank to one side of the short bench and seated herself at the opposite end. Hazel sat beside her and took a long sip of her drink.

“I come here when I want to be alone,” said Tiffany, also drawing a sip of her coffee.

Hazel looked out across the bay. The sun was behind a bunch of clouds. She took steady breaths, recovering from the brisk walk.

“Sorry for kidnapping you.”

“Are you sad, Tiffany?”

“What? Me? Why are you asking me that?”

Hazel just looked at her, then back out at the sky. The clouds were starting to acquire a reddish hue. “Gus would have liked this spot.”

“It hurts to look at the clouds, but it also helps, like most things that cause pain.”

Hazel seemed surprised, but said nothing. She looked at Tiffany expectantly.

“My husband died, you see. There’s this guy that won’t let me forget it. I lied to him, and I’m madly in love with him.”

Hazel’s eyebrows went up ever so slightly.

Tiffany sighed. “There. I said it. It had to be to a total stranger, but I said it. I lied to him because I love him in my own fucked-up way.” She closed her eyes for a moment. “What do you have to say about that, Miss Hazel Sad Girl?”

“I’m sorry about your husband.” Hazel paused for a moment, considering. “Ah, what the hell. Gus would have liked you.” She swirled the coffee in her paper cup. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”

It was Tiffany’s turn to raise her eyebrows.

Hazel’s looked out to the sky. Her eyes were glistening. “Gus said that. I loved him. I lost him three months ago. Osteosarcoma.”

“Oh shit.” Tiffany looked at Hazel. “How old was he?”

“Eighteen.”

“Damn. That sucks.”

“Time is a slut, she screws everybody.” She turned to Tiffany, looking her in the eye. “Tell him the truth, is what I think. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, but you do have some say in who hurts you. If you’re ok with him hurting you, then go for it. ”

“You’re way tougher than you look, Hazel.” Tiffany got up from the bench, cocked her hand back and smoothly tossed her empty cup into the trash can. “I’m not sure how or why I ended up waiting for coffee at the same table with you, but you gave me a lot to think about. Thanks.”

Hazel smiled at her. “I believe in true love. The world isn’t a wish-granting factory, but I hope that you find yours.”

“If you want to hang out some time, I owe you a beer or something. My whole name is Tiffany Webster.” Tiffany paused, realizing something. “Shit. You’re not old enough to drink are you?”

“Sorry, you’re right. I’m seventeen” replied Hazel, “but I’d like to hang out. Hazel Grace Lancaster. 312-262-1155.”

“Got it.” Tiffany zapped her number to Hazel’s phone. “We’ll get ice cream. See you around, Hazel Sad Girl.”


This post is a response to the Daily Prompt of January 18, 2015.

“Write a post in which the protagonists of two different books or movies meet for the first time. How do they react to each other? Do they get along?”

Hazel Grace Lancaster is a character from John Green’s novel “The Fault in Our Stars“. Tiffany Webster is a character from Matthew Quick’s novel “The Silver Linings Playbook“. This post borrows quotes from both novels.

The characterizations here have been influenced by Shailene Woodley’s portrayal of Hazel and Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Tiffany in the respective film adaptations of the novels. Hazel here is from the end of her story, while Tiffany is from around the middle of hers. I chose them because their stories had a lot of affinity, and their personalities would make for interesting interaction.

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2 thoughts on “Common Ground

  1. Wow. I loved that. I really, really loved that. I know Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars but didn’t know who Tiffany was until I read the end of your post. I watched The Silver Linings Playbook but never read the book. I didn’t even know it was a book. Now I just have to read it. This is a great little answer to a prompt. Well done.

    1. Thanks for the kind comments! I had fun writing that as well. The Silver Linings Playbook movie is substantially different from the novel, but they’re both interesting in their own way. I definitely got a better handle on Tiffany from J-Law.

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