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A Broken Promise
The girl twists the golden ring, around and around her finger. The bitter cold bites her in the face, and she pulls her weathered scarf tighter. Wind blows, and never stops blowing; the trees sway to its every command and the withered green grass under her bends down in its mercy.
She’s huddled in a ball on the hill, where she can almost see a lush green meadow sprouting below her. There are fresh flowers and bright colors, but most importantly, she thinks she can see two figures, running and playing around. A girl’s tinkling laughter is carried by the wind as the boy tackles her to the ground.
She blinks, and in an instant, the image disintegrates, replaced by the dark and dying meadow that actually lies in front of her. The green grass had slowly withered away to a disgusting gray, almost as gray as the sky above. The meadow screams death and dying whereas a mere two months before, it had been teeming with life and love.
A sudden chill sweeps through her back, and she huddles into a tighter ball, shivering. Where were his warm arms to embrace her, like he promised? Where was his musical laughter, the one that she longed to hear? Most importantly, where was he?
She plucks off the ring and examines its every detail. ‘It’s battered and worn’, he had warned her, ‘because it was my grandmother’s. She made me promise to give it to the woman I loved.’ His shining gray eyes looked into hers. ‘And now’, he claimed as he slipped it onto her finger, ‘it’s yours.’ He had planted a soft, lingering kiss onto her lips as the tears ran down her cheeks.
The memory of his voice, his eyes, his lips brought tears into her eyes. She swallowed the lump in her throat, reprimanding herself for grieving for a person that was not lost.
She sat there, waiting. The wind picked up the ends of her long, brown hair, the hair that he had run his hands through so adoringly. ‘If you were to ever cut off your hair,’ he had joked. ‘I think I might as well cut off my hands.’
‘Why?’ she had asked, worried. ‘Am I not beautiful without my hair?’
He chuckled, bringing his lips close to her ear, so close that she had shivered. ‘Not at all. Because without your hair distracting my hands, I’m not sure where they would wander to.’ She widened her eyes, and he had chuckled at her surprise before planting a kiss onto her cheek.
Her own hands had been chapped from long days at work. Even through their un-ladylike roughness, he had always held her hands, cupping them into his hands, kissing them all over. She had once questioned his actions, claiming that her hands were disgusting things, not things of value, and he had fiercely argued that her hands were a part of her, therefore ‘automatically beautiful beyond compare.’
Abruptly, all of these memories, these memories that she had fought for years to block out of her mind, all came flooding back to her at once, like a dam bursting open. The place they had met, in the very meadow directly below her, where she had been picking for berries and he had been hunting when they stumbled across each other; the fact that she would always run away in the middle of the night to meet him for a secret rendezvous; the infinite nights where they lie together, counting the stars in the night sky above them; the way he had held her, kissed her, loved her. They hit her like a wave of nostalgia washing over her, drowning her, until she felt she had no more energy to stay huddled.
But she had to stay. He had promised her that he would be here, on this very hill, where he had given her this ring, the very ring that she kept twisting around her finger, around and around.
She waits there, waiting for him to arrive from the darkness of the forest. She also remembers other things while waiting: the way he had told her he was to not see her anymore; the pain her heart felt being broken into two; the last ‘I love you’ he whispered; the promise that they would once be together again; the last glance he had given her, a loving, longing one, before he jumped onto his horse and run off; the endless hours she lay there, crying, sobbing, for her broken heart.
She feels the same pain now, waiting for him. She pulls out the letter, now yellow and worn from being fingered and read so many times. The lettering has almost faded away, barely legible, but it did not matter, for she knew the words by heart.
He had written a letter to her, claiming that he had never forgotten his promise. He was to meet her here, on this very day, at this hour.
She had been ecstatic, elated, over joyed at the thought of her true love coming back to meet her. She had gotten there exactly at the hour he had designated, on the dot, not a minute late. Sitting on this hill, where the memories came flooding back to her. On the hill above the meadow where she had first fallen in love.
She huddles even tighter as the wind continues to blow, hoping that he would show up soon so she wouldn’t die from the cold.
Suddenly, there was rustling in the woods, and she turned to find him. Battered, worn down, but he was alive and there. His tall and proud body, his strong arms, his shining gray eyes and his soft lips; they were all there. Just as she remembered him.
In a blink, the image is blown away, disappearing with the wind.
She calls out his name and a tear rolls down her cheek. He had promised her he’d be here.
He had promised.