“A Promise Kept”
"Oh, where is he? It's starting to get dark out here!" Kendra complained impatiently. She had been waiting on the bridge for about half an hour, awaiting the arrival of her longtime boyfriend, Jayson. It was a cold, misty evening with threatening rain clouds forming in the distance. The smell of fresh rain hung in the air. The brilliant sun was almost hidden by the horizon and the blanket of night was fast approaching. She was waiting on an old, wooden bridge that crossed the Black River. This was the place that she and Jayson had first met. He had been fishing from the bridge and Kendra had been out enjoying the day. She remembered how cute she thought he was and she was determined to talk to him.
"Hi, how're you? You're from around here, I assume?" She asked nervously.
"Hey, I'm doing good. Yeah, I'm from around here, but I've been gone for a few months," he replied politely.
"Oh, I see." She didn't want to ask why. "I was just wondering, 'cause I haven't seen you in school or anything."
"I graduated last year. But I probably didn't go to your high school, I went to Midland, which is about thirty minutes from here…" From that moment, the two hit it off wonderfully and became inseparable. However, their relationship would not prove to be that easy.
Jayson was the rebel that Kendra was never supposed to bring home and whom friends said she was too good for. He did what he wanted, when he wanted and he was his own boss. Kendra was much the opposite, very laid back and quiet. Jayson was tall (much taller than Kendra) and had a muscular-built frame. He had spiky, light-brown hair and a rough face that contained an eyebrow, lip, and nose piercing. Along his right eye, he had a small, jagged scar he received in a drunken fight with his step-father. The only features soft and childlike about him were his eyes. They were a deep ocean blue and always contained a spark of life. Jayson was always wondering about the world and wanted to live his life the way he wanted. So much of that mentality showed in his eyes. Kendra was tall and very skinny and lanky. She had to keep her body that way because she wanted to be a model after she graduated from high school. Her straight, raven-black hair was often in her eyes, which her mother frequently complained about. It was a pity that her hair often blocked them because Kendra had beautiful eyes. One was a steely ice-blue color, the other was a deep brown. Her mother often told her that she looked like a Siberian Husky with those eyes.
Together, Kendra and Jayson were quite the odd couple. "Opposites attract", as they say, but their differing backgrounds didn't stop them from maintaining a solid relationship because they had very common personalities. Of course, Kendra's parents disapproved of Jayson because he wasn't gentlemanly and goal-driven. Kendra didn't care - so what if he wasn't perfect? She began seeing him in secret and although this proved very dangerous and risky, they loved the adventure and spontaneity. They had been together two years and only one incident had almost revealed their forbidden relationship.
This incident occurred about four months after they had started going out. Kendra had been writing in her journal about Jayson and the day's events when, without warning, her mother opened her door and walked right into her room. Kendra tried, though unsuccessfully, to hide the journal under her pillow, but her mother caught sight of this right away.
"What do ya have there, Kendra? A secret diary?" Her mother said, playfully. Kendra tried to play along, but if her mother found out what was written in that journal, it was all over.
"No Mom, it's just a stupid journal I'm working on for my English class."
"Yeah right, let me see!" She began to reach for the journal, but at that moment, Kendra's dad called for her mom to come downstairs. Luckily, her mother said no more about it after that.
Their relationship began to become very serious and it was getting harder and harder to hide from Kendra's parents. They could not live without each other, so breaking up was out of the question. Then one night, after a candle lit dinner at Jayson's apartment, he did the unthinkable. Kendra could remember it like it was yesterday. They had just finished their dinner when Jayson looked into her eyes and just sat and stared at her. It began to make Kendra a little uncomfortable.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" She asked.
"I'm just thinking." He replied wonderingly.
"What I'm going to ask you."
Kendra's heart skipped a beat. This is it, he's going to ask you to marry him, she thought, her breath beginning to become harder to control. Sure enough, Jayson slipped a small box from his back pocket and got down on one knee. Kendra cried, "Yes!" before Jayson even asked and enveloped him in a huge hug. Kendra wept with elation and the longed-for desire to be with him forever.
They decided they would run away from their town and elope. Jayson had started working full-time after finishing high school, and had earned enough money for them to buy an apartment and start a new life away from the nosy parents and disapproving friends. Jayson and Kendra had made a promise to meet at this bridge on that Valentine's Day at six o'clock that evening. Kendra had packed all of her things, brought the only money she had, and left a note to her parents who were vacationing in Hawaii. They promised that no matter what happened, they would make it to the bridge to meet that evening.
Still about half a mile away from the bridge, Jayson was running through the dark woods with his flashlight. His legs were burning and his breath was coming in short gasps. I need to get to Kendra, keep going! God, I hope she doesn't leave, Jayson thought desperately. He had gotten into another fight with his step-dad concerning his mother. He ended up hitting his step-dad and ran out and he knew he was running late to meet Kendra. Suddenly, Jayson lost his footing and tumbled down a steep hill. Twigs, branches, and bushes slapped at Jayson's body as he plunged down the embankment. A sharp, brilliant pain hit full force on his forehead and the last thing he remembered was his scream and a dark, cool liquid running over his body…
He must be hurt or something terrible has happened if he isn't here yet. He promised me! Kendra thought, fighting back desperate tears. Jayson was the one person in her life who always kept his promises and Jayson sometimes joked that not even death could keep him from breaking a promise to her. Don't even think about such terrible things, Kendra. Keep it together! Maybe he got into another fight with his step-dad, Kendra thought. Jesus, what if they did get in another fight?! Maybe Jayson really hurt his step-dad this time. Maybe his step-dad hurt him! Kendra fought back the urge to cry and tried to slow her breathing. Calm down, don't panic. That won't help anything. I'm sure he'll be here in a few minutes. Finally, after an hour of waiting, Jayson came running through the woods that led up to the bridge. He looked different though, his clothes looked torn, his complexion was very pale, and a faint spot that looked like a bruise was apparent on his forehead. But what scared Kendra the most was that Jayson's playful, blue eyes were now a diseased black with no life in them.
"What in the hell has happened to you?" Kendra cried out fearfully.
"I don't know how to tell you this, Kendra. But on my way here, I slipped and fell into the river. I've come back from death to meet you. I made a promise to meet you here, no matter what."
"What are you talking about? Is this some kind of cruel joke?!" Kendra cried.
"I assure you, it's not. I don't understand how this happened, but I had to meet you and tell you before I could go on. Baby, I'm sorry this had to happen, I love you so much. I have to go now, goodbye." And with that, Jayson simply vanished into thin air.
He had come back to her, beyond death, to keep his promise to her because their love was so great. But not even love could keep him with her, for fate had other plans. Kendra rushed over to the side of the bridge to see if Jayson was right or if this were some kind of dream. Sure enough, his battered, lifeless body was floating face-down in the Black River that was raging below. Jayson was in fact right about his ironic joke. Not even death could keep him from breaking a promise to her.
I would like to thank Terry especially for all of the great ideas and pointers to help me expand and polish my story. Thank you to everyone in the class who read my piece during the work shops and for putting in the effort to really read through my story and help me to make it better. I tried to incorporate most of your ideas into my piece and I really appreciate all of the creative ideas and advice. Thank you, also, to the Coe Writing Center, for being available to look over my piece and giving me helpful advice as well!