The Promise

Written for Carry On Tuesday’s prompt:  Do you remember what we promised when we met…?
Do you remember what we promised when we met…?  Charlotte’s words hung in the air and burned a hole through my soul.  I didn’t answer but turned and walked away without so much as a backward glance.
I knew she was watching me walk away and I knew what she would think.  It was the hardest thing I ever had to do.  And she never knew.  I left for college the next day and then a few months later my folks moved to another state.  I never knew what happened to her. 
After the way I’d left, I knew I couldn’t contact her.  I thought of her often over the years.  I thought about how we had met in the 8th grade we were both new.  Her family had just moved from the next town, and mine had moved across country.  I was nervous and shy and she had only been there a week when I arrived.  
The teacher introduced me and I sat down in the chair next to hers – the only empty chair in the classroom.  “Class, welcome Todd Butts, he just moved to Iowa.”  I thought that maybe by the 8th grade that my surname would no longer cause a negative reaction.  Not in Iowa – it was just as funny to them as it had been in all the elementary schools. 
But Charlotte pretended not to notice.  She leaned across the aisle and whispered, Hi Todd, don’t worry after a week you’ll settle in.  I just smiled back weakly.  Later at lunch I learned that it was only her second week.  We ended up in the lunch line together and she invited me to sit with her.  It was over lunch that we promised that we would always be friends no matter what.  And we were until she started dating Danny and I realized that I was in love with her.  But by that time, they were already engaged. 
I walked over to her house that night to talk to her, to tell her how I felt.  She only lived a block from me and it was a nice September night.  The sun was going down and shooting out rays of golden hues and purples and blues.  I found strength in the beauty of the night. 
Some kids were shooting baskets in the drive two doors down from her.  I passed an older couple strolling hand in hand.  Someone was cooking BBQ and the dog next door to Charlotte’s barked and chased back and forth inside his fence as I passed it’s house.  I walked up the steps to Charlotte’s front porch and knocked.
The door opened on the third knock and Charlotte appeared in the doorway, her brown hair up in a ponytail.  She wore a red t-shirt and blue jeans.  We sat on the steps and before I could ask her what I’d come to ask her, she began to weep.
“Todd, I’m pregnant.”
I didn’t know what to say, I was too shocked to say anything at first.  Then I was angry and I screamed, “You what? Oh, that is just great!  I can’t believe you!”  She just stared at me, those big brown eyes full of tears and full of pain. 
I knew if I stayed I would tell her how I felt.  She didn’t need that.  She needed to be with the father of her baby.  So I just walked away.  I heard her call after me, “Do you remember what we promised when we met…? “

8 responses to “The Promise

  1. A sad tale but well written and compelling. I think your story portrays those small parts of all of our lives that we would like to go back and do again.

  2. What I really like about this story, is that the memory feels so vivid – so recent. Things that happened in our teens had so many hormones attached to them, they cemented themselves into the deepest memories of our brains, and even in old age, they seem more real than yesterday’s happenings. The story portrays this, with the remembered walk to Charlotte’s house, the clothes she was wearing and the words of friendship quickly spoken, yet never forgotten. The story pulls the reader forward, making the reader wonder, whatever happened to her; I wonder what she’s doing now? It’s very human, touching and sweetly sad. Nice work!

  3. this was beautiful, sad & bittersweet. I agree w/brokenpenwriter about embedded sweet memories. The space they still take up in our thoughts is a clear sign of their impact on our lives.

  4. Many a times I have wanted to go back to those bitter sweet memories but of course I can’t. This is so touching….

    embracing weeds

  5. The wheel keeps moving forward, even when it leaves the dust behind it crushed. Well-written story.

  6. This is beautifully written. Thank you!

  7. I could practically taste the regret in every word. Exquisitely written.

    It’s because of this that I found out about this meme. Thanks!

  8. So well written, it made me tingle, perfectly done.

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