I read L. Ron Hubbard's book, Fear recently. While it left me cold (more about that another time) his short story "Borrowed Glory" was included in the edition.
I saw both stories' twists but, even so, "Borrowed Glory" hit me in a way few tales ever do. The premise is simple enough: Through intervention by an angel, a poor and elderly woman can have anything she wishes for in the world with the understanding it will only be for 48 hours.
**SPOILERS (skip to miss)
So the woman asks for the typical things... youth, clothes, to stay somewhere fancy, etc. On her way from somewhere, a car almost runs her over. Of course, the person in this vehicle is a handsome and rich young man who is extremely apologetic and taken with her. She's taken with him also, so they date and wed in her short window of freedom (though she never tells him about the deal). The morning after the wedding, with mere hours of vitality left, she writes him a note and flees.
She arranges a quick funeral, knowing she can't live without him, and wishes herself dead. She is buried.
Her husband awakes, searches for her, and follows the path she took knowing just what was going on. As they exhumed her body, they found her old and having fought to free herself because ALL wishes only last a certain period of time. The young man cradles her by the grave crying, himself growing old. The angel granted two people the chance that night.
I wanted the ending different. I could feel it, gnawing at me.
I reshaped the story in my mind. They're still in there, the different versions. Both pull emotions from me, both for opposite (yet complimentary) reasons.
Fan-fiction used to drive me bonkers. I understood it as a useful writing exercise or a way to attach yourself (obscenely) to the chariot of someone else's fame. I never saw it as what it could be... a way to continue worlds loved or alter a bleak future. I get it now, more than I used to.
Sometimes, the only way to turn a picture of a dog into an elephant is to paint over it or, at least, give the dog a trunk. Maybe it's disrespectful to Mr. Hubbard to alter his work, even briefly, in my mind. But it can't hurt too much, right?
What stories have you desperately wanted to change? Have you ever written fan-fiction to alter something you felt the author did "wrong"?