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Promise Me

I’m not sure what happened. They told me he’d been in a wreck, but I didn’t want to believe it. I stared aimlessly out the window as the rain pounded down on the SUV. Water streamed down the windshield like my tears did every night before sleep came to consume me. My mother and I were on our way home from the much detested therapy sessions. Why couldn’t my parents understand that I didn’t need therapy, but that I needed my friend back? No one understood what it was like for me to endure my best friend’s departure from this life, and I was beginning to think they never would.

I pressed my face against the cool glass and sighed. My cheek began to go numb and my mind blank, but that’s what I wanted: blank. I didn’t want to think about my loss. I didn’t want to acknowledge the slow passage of time. My thoughts blurred together as I fell into a dreamless sleep.

I don’t remember getting out of the car, but when I woke up I was on the couch. I sat up and moaned; I had a headache. I slowly stood and walked into the kitchen. As I opened the refrigerator, I realized that I wasn’t at my house; I was at Aaron’s. At first I thought that my parents may have come to give their condolences to the family, but when I saw the calendar, my head began to spin.

It was August twenty-first, the same day that Aaron died! Yet, that had been well over a month ago. Wouldn’t his parents have changed the date to help with the pain? I suppose it was a possibility…

But then I noticed that it wasn’t raining. Actually, there was no sign of rain at all. It looked as though it had been dry for months, just like it had been before the cold front hit in late August. That’s when I realized what had happened.

I almost screamed. How was this possible? How could I have traveled back in time? This wasn’t real. This was something that you saw in movies or in books, not real life. I was about to begin panicking when I heard the sound of someone coming into the house.

“Hey, Leah, you awake?” The unmistakable familiarity of the voice sent a violent shock into the pit of my stomach; Aaron.

“Aaron?” I called, my voice coming out a harsh whisper. I peered around the corner and felt tears sting my eyes. There he stood; his dark hair wet and hanging in his eyes from swim practice. I smiled.

“Aaron, it is you!” I screamed, rushing at him. I tackled him with a bear hug and began to cry.

“Leah, what’s the matter? Are you okay?” He asked, trying to meet my eyes. I breathed in his scent and began to cry harder. He smelled the same as always: Hollister cologne and Axe shampoo. I had missed this a lot more than I thought I had.

“No, no Aaron, it’s not okay. You can’t go to that meeting tonight. If only you knew…” I could barely get the words out between sobs. He looked startled and a little worried, but his eyes showed concern for me.

“Leah, you’re not making sense. What’s wrong? And this time, speak slowly,” He locked eyes with me as I eased my breathing to a steadier rate. Then, I spoke.

“Aaron, tonight, on your way home from that student council meeting, a drunk driver is going to hit you. You’re going to die,” Another wave of tears. This time, though, they were silent.

“Leah, don’t you think you’re being a little paranoid?” He asked, skepticism filling his voice. I began to shake my head.

“No, Aaron. You’ll be a pancake on the side of the road beneath your vehicle. You can’t go. Please. Promise me you’ll stay,” I begged. He sighed.

“Leah, please, just calm down. You don’t know any of this for certain,” He began. I cut him off.

“Aaron,” I started, but stopped. How was I going to explain to him that I’d been to his funeral? That I’d come from the future (somehow) and was here to warn him? I was stumped. Then, it hit me.

“You remember how sometimes people just feel things in their gut? Like they just know? Aaron, that’s how I feel about tonight. You simply have to trust me. Please. Promise me you’ll stay here,” I bored into his eyes with my own. He searched my sky blue irises for answers, but found only the fear and desperation I was displaying in my voice.

“Leah,” He sounded hesitant. I caught my breath.

“Promise?” I whispered. He was silent a moment.

“Yes, I promise,” He finally agreed. I threw my arms around him and began to laugh. Everything would be okay!

When I pulled back to look at his face, we weren’t sitting in his living room anymore. Instead, we were standing at the foot of a grave marker. I looked down to see who it could possibly belong to, but when I read the name I choked.

“Oh, Leah, why did you have to go? If only He’d left you alone,” Pain fell from his eyes in the drastic form of tears as he turned to walk away.

“Aaron? Aaron, wait!” I screamed, running after him. I waved my hands in from of his face and shouted as loudly as possible in his ear, but he didn’t even turn in my direction. Finally, I ran ahead and stopped right in from of him, but he still didn’t see me. In fact, he passed through me. That’s when I realized I really was dead.

I ran back to the grave marker and read the engraving.

Leah Foster: Beloved daughter, sister, and friend; forever in our hearts.

A strangled sob rose in my throat. As I was about to take off after Aaron again, a strange woman appeared beside me. I didn’t ask who she was or what she was doing here or why it was that she could see me and Aaron couldn’t. I didn’t have to ask, anyway. She spoke first.

“Leah, I am your guardian. My job is to lead you from this life into the next. Are you ready to go?” She asked. I shook my head vigorously.

“No, of course not. I don’t even know what happened to me,” I cried, beginning to freak out. The Guardian smiled reassuringly.

“Be at peace. You see, in saving your friend, you changed the order of events in time. Instead of his mother dropping you off, you decided to walk. On your way across the street, a man grabbed you and held you hostage. In the end, he shot you twice in the back. You’ve been dead for a month,” She spoke so calmly that I wanted to pull my hair out. She wasn’t supposed to be calm in a situation like this!

“Why? I just wanted to save Aaron,” I began, but she held up a hand to stop me.

“Child, everything happens for a reason. Babies are born, the elderly die; it’s all part of a delicate cycle. Death is part of life. It is something we all must grow to accept. There is nothing you can do to change it. All you can do is embrace your fate and commence a new beginning in a new life,” She sounded so positive. I began to grow tired and weary just thinking of putting up a fight.

“I… I understand,” I cried softly. She took my hand in hers.

“Shall we be going, then?” She asked, a light forming ahead. I looked over my shoulder at Aaron as he walked away and then back at the light.

“Yes, but promise me one thing,” I paused. She waited expectedly.

“Whatever happens, keep Aaron safe, okay?” I asked. She smiled.

“I promise,” She whispered.

I took one last glance at the world I knew before disappearing into bliss forever.







The End



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