Gatsby Alternative Ending

Right after Gatsby and Daisy left the Plaza Hotel...
Original Story by Jiachen Ren

After a moment Tom got up and began wrapping the unopened bottle of whiskey in the towel.

"Want any of this stuff? Jordan? … Nick?"

I didn't answer.

"Nick?" He asked again.

"I need some air." Feeling nasty, I turned away from Tom and left the muggy room, slamming the door shut.

It was already late in the afternoon, and the once scorched earth was beginning to cool off as fresh breeze carried away the ferocious heat. That day was my thirtieth birthday, and I couldn't help but feel somewhat depressed and discouraged - the people around me were so absorbed in their own lives that no one even said "Happy Birthday" to me. Not even Jordan. Thirty years old, and I was still a nobody who no one gives a shit about. I felt small and insignificant, yes, but more than anything I felt alone. I felt far away from everyone, standing on the 58th street that was now crowded with people getting off from work.

Having nothing to do, I decided to take a walk in the Central Park. As the heat of the afternoon gradually faded away and transcended into pleasant warmth, the central park was filling up with people who were either casually strolling or having indistinct, muted conversations. Feeling exhausted from all of the mess that had happened earlier that afternoon, I decided to rest on an empty bench that was right beneath an old willow tree. The sun was beginning to set - facing toward it, I bathed in its dying rays that was rendered green by the shadowy branches of the old willow. I felt as if all of that unpleasantness were suddenly gone, as if they were dusts that had been brushed away by the gently moving branches of the willow.

I thought of Gatsby. I thought of his unperishable devotion toward Daisy. I thought of his obsession with restoring the past. I thought of that night when I saw him outstretching his arms toward the green light and I asked myself: what is going on in that exquisite mind of his? As I submerged into the depth of my thoughts, the heated discussion of that afternoon appeared frame by frame in front of my eyes. It was clear to me then that Gatsby was pursuing an unattainable dream, and I pitied him. Daisy's love is like sand caught in Gatsby's hands that had slipped away through the gaps between his fingers as time passed by. Once gone, it would be out of reach forever.

It was around 9 o'clock when I had finally returned to my residence. The night was quiet except for the sound of light breeze going over tree tops. I glanced toward Gatsby's mansion and realized that Gatsby wasn't around. The dark silhouette of the unlit mansion was blended seamlessly into the peaceful night sky that was filled with dim but shimmering stars. It was not until when I directed my gaze toward the dock that I had realized that Gatsby's motor boat, normally tethered to the end of the dock, had disappeared. I couldn't help but wonder then if Gatsby had taken it out for a ride. Sparked by curiosity, I walked up his dock to the spot that was left vacant by the disappearance of the boat. To my dismay, there was no sign of Gatsby on the vast open sea. There was no trace of his existence - the only sound that I could hear was the splashing of gentle waves against the shore that was lit dimly by the starlight. Curiously, there was another object that was absent aside from Gatsby and his motor boat - the green light. Tom's mansion was lit from top to bottom, but there was no trace of the greenlight. Realizing that it was of no use to stay any longer, I went home.

I woke up the next morning when the first streak of sunlight had slipped pass the half-closed curtain. Driven by curiosity, I decided to take a glance at Gatsby's before going to work. It had seemed to me that the mansion had undergone a dramatic transformation when I wasn't looking - for one thing, all of Gatsby's servants, or more precisely Wolfsheim's gangsters, were gone. The front yard of Gatsby's mansion was left unattended, but its neatness and elegance were more prominent than ever. The grass was trimmed to a pleasant height, and Gatsby's stylish car was parked right beside the drive way; there was not a stain that contaminated its luxurious yellow paint, and the polished windshield seemed more dazzling than ever under the morning sun. With the servants now gone, I was left without options but to ring the doorbell. I waited for a while, but no one came to my rescue, so I went around to the backyard, hoping to find Gatsby there.

And there he was, bathing in that enormous pool of his.

"Good morning, old sport." It was not me who started the rather curious conversation.

"…Ughh, good morning, Mr. Gatsby… I've… I've been looking for you." I was blown away by his sudden presence that my ability to speak was lost for a second.

"Oh, you have? What's the matter? You seem a bit out of breath." He smiled at me as he replied in a lighthearted manner.

"Oh, don't worry, I am just a bit surprised to find you here."

"Ah, I thought that I would enjoy the pool for a little bit. After all, I haven't used it all summer. You wanna join me, old sport?" There was this unfamiliar vibrancy in his voice that was unrecognizable. He talked to me as if he had known me since the day that I was born. The elegance of his speech was replaced by vivid informality.

"Where have you been last night?" I sat down beside the pool and asked him. I had a million questions for him, and I couldn't hold them back anymore.

"Last night," He began in a thoughtful way but stopped suddenly and lowered his head. His smile faded for a second, but it came back as he continued amicably, "business."

"You see, old sport, I am moving away." He was not looking at me now. His eyes were instead fixed over the distant clouds that were lazily strolling across the blue sky.

I was speechless.

After a moment of silence, I simply said: "Oh."

"You know, when I was young, this life was all that I have dreamed of. Big houses, fancy cars, crazy parties. I didn't want to just be some nobody. I wanted attention. I wanted people to respect me. I wanted greatness. I wanted to be someone that people look up to." There was a pause as he turned back to look at me in the eyes. "But the thing is, I kept wanting more."

He didn't say no more, so I sat down beside him on the edge of the pool.

"I am Gatsby now, but part of me is still that young James Gats who once sailed the boundless ocean." He said this in a curious way, half smiling. "Remember what I said about repeating the past?" he continued, "I was wrong. As long as a boat floats in the sea, it does not matter where it comes from or what storms it had been through - the only thing that matters is where it is heading and where it would eventually dock."

We spent the rest of that day having pleasant and casual conversations. I don't quite recall the details of what we have discussed for the rest of the day for they are insignificant, but I faintly remember him telling me how he plans to sell his house and break up his ties with Wolfsheim. He talked about how he plans to move south, where the climate is supposedly warmer. He also revealed to me that he would be spending his days yachting.

And he was gone one month later, swiftly. We wrote to each other now and then, and we have remained as friends until this day. He had described his life down south as "splendid," that he had never been that satisfied with his life before he moved to the south. He is married now and has two kids, and I am truly happy for him. When I think of Gatsby, I always think of that morning when I found him bathing in his pool. My thoughts would always linger over the conversation between the two of us that ensued. We had talked a lot, mostly about the future, but our conversation never shifted back to the discussion of what happened the day before, nor was Daisy's name ever mentioned by either one of us. There was a new depth to him, but mostly Gatsby acted as if he were a prisoner serving a life sentence who was just released from a dungeon, seeing daylight for the first time in decades. There was a new excitement in the way he spoke. He was reborn and re-energized.

That night when Gatsby disappeared together with the motor-boat and the green light, he went for a ride. At the far end of the horizon where the milky way meets the gently moving waves of the Sound, Gatsby discarded the past into the depth and recovered the future from the reflection of a thousand shimmering stars.