"Promise" | Teen Ink


March 20, 2012
By Hannah Dolezal BRONZE, Olathe, Kansas
Hannah Dolezal BRONZE, Olathe, Kansas
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

(Set is mostly bare with a dresser on SR housing the Mommy picture, and identical dresser on SL housing the Daddy picture, a bed at CS facing the audience with a small nightstand housing tissues immediately to the right of it)
*Lights up on a young girl sitting cross-legged on her bed*

“Mommy and Daddy made a promise.
“A few months ago, I was at school. At school Mrs. Krez is my 1st grade teacher. She is my favorite teacher ever. One day we were doing vocab. On our list of words was one I’d never ever seen before. It was ‘Promise’. I asked Mrs. Krez what a promise was exactly. She said it was an assurance of someone’s word. Then we took a spelling test and I got a B+.
A couple weeks ago Mommy came in and talked to me. She had to come in and talk to me because I was crying. I was crying because Mommy was yelling into the phone. Mommy was yelling because Daddy had been working late at the office again. Mommy was tired of Daddy working late. Mommy yelled a lot of really mean-sounding things into the phone. She also cried a lot. I don’t like to see Mommy cry, so I started crying too. Mommy hung up real fast and came to talk to me.”
*She gets off the bed, goes to pick up a picture of Mommy off the dresser SR, steps forward and shows it to the audience*

“This is my Mommy.”
*She cradles the picture as she speaks*

“When Mommy came in to talk to me, she told me that because they were Mommy’s and Daddy’s, they fought sometimes. But they still loved each other. And they would always be my Mommy and Daddy. She said that most of all, they loved me. That nothing would ever change that. But I was mostly sad because my friend, Jennie’s, Mommy and Daddy weren’t going to live together anymore. And I was afraid that might happen to my Mommy and Daddy. I told that to Mommy, but she promised that would never happen to our family. Just that maybe some fights would.

After that I felt better. But when Daddy came home, Mommy yelled and cried some more- and then made him sleep on the couch. The next morning, at breakfast, I asked Daddy why he had been so late the night before.”
*Runs to the dresser on SL, dropping the Mommy picture on the bed on her way, and picking up the Daddy picture off the dresser on SL*

“This is my Daddy.”
*She cradles the picture as she speaks*

“Daddy was reading the newspaper, so he couldn’t pay attention- but he said he had just got preoccupied. I asked him if he would be married to Mommy forever. He kinda rolled his eyes, but said he would. Then I asked him if he promised. He got a little upset at me for asking that. But he still said he promised.”
*Laying the Daddy picture on the bed, she sits up on the bed bringing her knees up to her chest*
Five days ago, I played with Grandma. Mommy and Daddy said they needed to have a long chat. A long, adult chat. Mommy had some tears in her eyes and Daddy wouldn’t really look at me.”
*Her expression changes and she smiles, leaning out towards the audience, her puts her hands on the bed rail at the foot of her bed, excitedly*
“But they did say that I was going to hang out with Grandma for a whole day! I love Grandma, and besides, most adult chats are super boring. So I said ok.
*Her stance relaxes and she drops her arms by her side, resting back on her heels*
“While I was at Grandma’s, I found a pretty book with lots of pictures of Mommy and Daddy. In a lot of the pictures, Mommy was wearing a long white dress. She and Daddy looked super happy! I’d forgotten what Mommy looked like when she smiled.”
*She pulls farther back from the audience and reaches for some Kleenex from the nightstand, and starts tearing it into small pieces and looking down*

“Grandma caught me looking, but she wasn’t mad. She kinda smiled and said that it was the pictures from Mommy and Daddy’s wedding day. Grandma said it was a really happy day- even though Grandma cried a bunch. I asked Grandma what it meant when Mommy and Daddy got married. Grandma said it was a promise.”
*She gets up from her bed, and goes to stand in front of it, resting back on the bed rail, she wraps her arms around herself in a sort of hug*

“Mommy and Daddy came into my room earlier today. Mommy said she loved me. Daddy said I would always be his little princess. They both said they were sorry. A lot. Mommy said that this was just the way things had to be. Daddy said it was for the best. They both started to cry. They each gave me a hug. They said that they would go. To give me time to digest.
*She turns around to pick up the pictures off the bed, and holds them, then turns backs around and takes a few steps towards the audience, clutching the pictures to her chest*

“Mommy and Daddy broke a promise.”
*Her head drops and lights go out*

The author's comments:
Originally I needed to write this piece as an English assignment, but the piece itself was inspired from something deeply personal, as my own parents are divorced, and I feel like it was own which is sort of self-inspired and comes from the heart. I hope people will understand a) what it means to make/break a promise and b) that ultimately our actions do have consequences. We have to think about the choices we make at both the individual and societal level.

Similar Articles


This article has 6 comments.

on Apr. 27 2018 at 11:58 am
nevinhooper BRONZE, Grandville, Michigan
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
This was wonderfully written, and dialogue from the main character was very realistic, and I genuinely felt sad when reading it (something I rarely feel), and was very powerful. Great job!

on Feb. 24 2016 at 7:30 pm
socialkaysualty PLATINUM, Dover, Delaware
25 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.

So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.

And should I then presume?

And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? ...

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep ... tired ... or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head

Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;

That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:

“That is not it at all,

That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

I agree :)

on Aug. 14 2013 at 2:45 pm
Poetrylover_1 SILVER, Norh Charleston, South Carolina
5 articles 0 photos 11 comments
Your cues and theatrical expressions are great. Maybe if at the end you would have had her say "Mommy and daddy broke their promise" it would have been so much  more powerful, because they both made the promise to stay together. Other than that it was well written. Keep it up.

on Jan. 28 2013 at 6:10 am
LinkinPark12 PLATINUM, Lincolnshire, Other
45 articles 1 photo 198 comments

Favorite Quote:
Work like you don’t need money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like no one's watching. ¦ I like change - but only when everything stays the same.

This is brilliantly written! When I was reading this, I had a little girl's voice reading it in my head :)

on Dec. 15 2012 at 10:22 am
ClaireBearH PLATINUM, McLean, Virginia
20 articles 6 photos 20 comments

Favorite Quote:
It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.
Aristotle Onassis

Wow! that brought tears to my eyes! It was so perfect! You captured the little girl perfectly from the way she talked to even her posture in stage directions. incredible!

villain123 said...
on Aug. 29 2012 at 1:58 pm
villain123, Bridgewater, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 41 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I'm okay with war as long as nobody gets hurt."

The way it was written sounds exactly the way a little girl, like the narrator, would speak. The girl cradling the photos and the lights going out at the end were good theatrical effects.