Stories That Make You Cry
Promise Part 1
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As soon as he sat down on the bench he began to
drift back to that
Valentine’s Day eighteen years before. It
had been at this very same
bench. He had been coming here every Valentine’s
Day. He would sit for an hour or so and remember
her and how he had loved her. He had planned to
ask her to marry him on that day eighteen years
before. His mind drifted back and in his mind’s
eye he could see her and his heart could feel what
he had felt on that day.
He had only known her for nine months. When he
was twenty-five years old that seemed to be a longer
period of time that it now did. He thought about
how they had met. People that he worked with were
going out for Friday night drinks and they had asked
him to come. This was something that they only did
a few times a year and he had never gone with them
before. When this was pointed out to him he said
that he would join them.
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It was a large bar and a band was playing classic
rock and dance music. He sat at the bar nursing
a beer while listening to the music. That was when
he first noticed her. She was sitting at a table
with another woman. He glanced at her from the corner
of his eye and in that strange communication that
is without words he knew that she knew that he was
looking at her. There was about ten minutes of this
thing of her noticing him noticing her while he
was doing the same. It was interrupted when the
band took a break and his co-workers began to chit-chat.
As soon as the music started up again he gazed directly
at her and in an instant that was unlike him he
stepped off of his stool and walked directly towards
her table. She watched him as he walked towards
her and their eyes met before words were spoken.
“Would you like to dance?”, he asked.
Her eyes looked away from his as she said, “I
can’t”. It wasn’t the answer that
he had hoped for. He muttered “Okay”
and started to turn to walk away. Her hand reached
out towards his, “No wait, sit down.”
He smiled and as soon as he sat down he said, “I
can’t dance either.” They sat and talked
in staccato conversation at points where the music
got lower. One of his co-workers joined him at the
table and a few minutes later the co-worker and
her friend were up and dancing.
“ Are you sure you don’t want to dance?”
She shook her head to say no but her eyes said that
she was not definite so he asked, “Are you
sure, there is no harm in trying?” She grinned
and said, “I really can’t but I’ll
try.” As soon as she stood up he noticed the
cane hanging on the back of her chair. She walked
towards the dance floor without it, dragging her
right leg while limping. He followed her slowly
and they started to dance. The ‘dancing’
lasted about two minutes before she fell down, landing
on her left knee. He helped her back to the table.
When she sat down she giggled and said, “I
guess that you were wrong about it not hurting to
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He sat on the bench and re-played the scene in
his mind. The he fast forwarded to that Valentine’s
Day eighteen years before, right here at this very
same bench. She was from Ohio and had moved to Connecticut
two years before they had met. It was a whirlwind
relationship and they had both rushed off into the
high that comes when two souls touch. He had rehearsed
it in his head. They would take a walk in the park
and then sit at a bench and he would ask her to
marry him. But something had happened that was not
part of the rehearsal that he had played in his
head. As soon as they sat down she said that she
had something to tell him. He listened. Her grandmother
was sick. She was going back to Ohio for a few weeks.
She would call him and it would not be long before
she would see him. He decided to hold off on his
question. He would ask her when she got back. They
would return to this bench. As soon as he thought
this a wave of worry washed over him. It seemingly
came out of nowhere. What if he were to never see
her again? Instead of the rehearsal that he had
played out in his mind he blurted out, “I’m
afraid that I won’t see you again.”
She smiled a smile that reassured him, “Don’t
be afraid I’ll see you soon.” As they
stood up he clasped her hand and whispered in her
ear,”I love you.” She looked down at
her right leg , All of me?” He kissed her
gently and whispered softly, “ Every part
of you, forever, I promise.”
She would be staying with her cousin, not far
from the nursing home where her grandmother was.
Two days after she left he called he called the
number that she had given him. Her cousin answered
and took a message. She phoned him back the following
day and they talked for fifteen minutes or so. He
only spoke with her once after that. She didn’t
return his phone calls until the late night call
that he received after not hearing from her for
almost two weeks. She said that she was sorry for
not calling, she had been busy. They chit-chatted
and she said that she would talk to him soon. He
sensed that something was different during this
conversation and he had been right. Three days later
he phoned her and her cousin said that she had moved.
He never heard from her again.
In the weeks that followed he wondered a lot.
Wondered what had happened. Wondered how he had
let it happen. Wondered why he had been so foolish.
Wondered how she could mean so much to him that
he could not see that he mattered little to her.
Wondered if things might have been different if
he had followed the script that he had rehearsed
in his head for that Valentine’s Day. Wondered
what her answer would have been. Wondered if she
realized how much she meant to him. Wondered why
she did not just tell him that it was over. Wondered
why she had whispered “I love you” when
the times they had engaged in a lover’s embrace.
The worst part about this wondering was that there
wasn’t anyone to share it with. He wished
that he could unfold it all, the whole story, all
of the wondering to another person. Then he could
ask, What do you think happened?” But there
wasn’t anyone else because he felt to foolish
to talk about it with anyone. Two months after the
last time that he had spoken with her he phoned
her cousin asking how he could reach her. Her cousin’s
reply was, “She’s unreachable.”
He started to sob right there on the
phone. “If you see her please tell her that
I still love her and can she please call me?”
He gave her cousin his phone number even though
he knew that he had given it to her the last time
that he had called.
It took a few months but eventually the wondering
receded. It didn’t fully go away but he wondered
less often. He accepted that there were things that
he would not know, that there was no answer to all
of the wondering and that anything would just be
conjecture. He moved on. That is what survivors
of soul wounds do. Some move forward, some become
hardened, some hurt
others, and some wall themselves off from others.
He was determined to move forward but he did not
forget her and knew that he never would. In this
way she would always be a part of him in some small
way. When souls touch they leave graffiti.
One year after the last time that he had seen her
he returned to the bench and thought about her and
the last day that he had seen her. He sat on the
bench on a day that was not unlike that Valentine’s
Day the year before. It was still winter but there
was a hint of spring in the air and the promise
of what would grow and blossom. He felt at the cross
and chain hanging around his neck. The word “Love”
was engraved on the cross. She had given it to him.
He contemplated taking it off and throwing it as
far as he could in an act to symbolize closure.
He didn’t do it because he knew that it would
only be symbolic and that real closure would only
come from speaking with her. He imagined what he
might say if she could hear him. He reflected on
this and reached down into all that he knew of his
knowing her. In his mind’s eye he spoke. The
words came to him in an instant, utterances from
There is a place I enter in.
What never was, what might have been.
Where are you now, what do you seek?
Afraid to talk?, me I still speak.
I say the things I never said,
In conversations inside my head.
If you could hear, you’d understand,
What never was, was also planned.
He returned to the bench ever Valentine’s
Day and remembered his love for her. Something significant
happened before his third Valentine’s Day
alone at the bench. Two weeks before Valentine’s
Day he received a Sunday morning 10 a.m. phone call
from her cousin. There had been complications during
childbirth and she had died the night before. “You
said that you loved her. I thought that you should
know.” If asked if she had been married and
was told that she was not. There would be a brief
memorial service and she would be cremated. He thanked
her cousin for calling and hung up the phone. He
went to a drawer and took out the cross and chain
that she had given him. He laid down , stared at
the ceiling and held the cross in his hand slowly
moving his index finger over the word “Love”.
He picked up the phone and called her cousin. Could
he come to the memorial service? She told him where
and when it would be.
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