The Promise

The Promise

A Story by Drifter
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A story I wrote last year.

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 “Some things last forever.”


“Even now, I remember the moment I fell in love with her,” murmured the weary old man, as he leaned his thin, grizzled face over the half-empty pint of stout Boston ale.

“What’s that honey?” asked the sweet, pixie-like bartender; she deftly poured a couple shots of bourbon for a young couple, as they leaned against each other a few feet down the bar.  She slid the glasses towards them, sloshing the harsh liquid on the dull, beige counter-top, and smiled graciously when they left a reasonable tip.  Then, as she glanced at the man again, a soft sadness passed over her kind face; a moist cloud darted over her aqua eyes as she noted that he sorrowfully fingered a faded gold wedding band, continuously.

“I remember the moment I fell in love with her,” he repeated; his softly rumbling bass voice came in broken, forceful bursts as he focused on the swirling alcohol. 

“What’s your name, hon? I’m Joy,” she whispered, gingerly, placing a tiny hand over his.  For a moment, he looked up and fixed her with an intense, grey-eyed stare that harbored such deep wells of emotion that it nearly stole her breath.  In that instance, she seemed to see a much younger, handsome man, free of the tears of heartache.  It made her want to cry.

“Luke.  My name is Luke.”  The moment over, his gaze returned to the dark ale and the ring that ran steady revolutions beneath his gnarled fingers. 

Somberly, Joy scanned the small bar; other than Luke, there were five other patrons in the bar and, as it was a Monday, it was sure to be a slow night.  Making sure that no one else required anything, she sidled down on the opposite side of the bar.  She tucked her dirty white towel into her waistband and devoted her entire attention to him.

“Your wife?  Is that who you’re talking about?”

“Aye, my Adriana.  She left me last night.  Fifty-three years together and she’s gone…” he mumbled dejectedly.

“Oh?  I’m sorry Luke,” Joy offered.  Though she was too polite to say so, she thought it was horrible for someone to leave their spouse after such a long time of sharing life together.  Perhaps it was naïve, but she believed in that “until death do us part” bit that she’d seen in movies.  Of course, no one had asked her to marry them yet- well, outside the bar anyway.  “Do you want to talk about it?  Tell me about the moment you knew you loved her,” she fumbled for something to say; Joy hated to see patrons come in and unload their sadness in a pitcher of beer or shots of liquor.  She would rather listen to their problems and help if she could, though quite often their problems were too big for her to do more than provide an ear for.

“It was a day much like this one, with happy birds chirping as they serenaded their lovers and children playing beneath clear blue skies…”

*

A crisp, cool wind blew over the grassy knoll where they laid on the vibrant, quilted blanket.  Side by side, they stared up the puffy white clouds were carried off towards distant horizons and the sun smiled down from his heavenly throne.  The trees, silent Oak sentinels that stood guard nearby, swayed peacefully as their leafy feathers were ruffled playfully.  It was a fragrant day; rife with the aromatic pleasures of apple cider and deep south living.  It hinted of mothers’ apple pie and homemade cornbread, dipped in fresh bottles of milk. 

The thin wisps of a bemused grin trickled up over Luke’s handsome, bearded face as he ran his long, spindly fingers through his thick, Stygian mane.  A melodic laugh escaped his birdlike lips as he propped up to look at his companion, the stunningly beautiful Adriana.  He leaned down over her, swiping aside her long, dirty blond hair to get a better glimpse of her pale, blushing face.  Her fierce, greenish eyes gleamed up at him as he leaned down to kiss her tenderly; there was a hunger that echoed in their distant corners, unable to be satiated by any mere grazing of their moist lips. 

“Care to let me in on the joke?” she inquired ruefully, when he pulled back up to prop beside her.

“Just thinking, love.  You are truly beautiful,” he whispered, feeling a heavy happiness permeate through him.  A powerful feeling floated through his broad chest and gripped his innards with intoxicating force, threatening to leave him inches beyond the overwhelming brink of madness.  The wind seemed to caress her in the next few moments as he peered down at her, at her heaving breasts and crimson cheeks. 

“Oh really?”  She reached up and stroked the side of his furry face; a delicate smile contorted her own face as her fingers traced the hard line of his rigid jawline.  There was a magical deliciousness to her velvet touch, a need that her fingertips aroused in him.  It was difficult for Luke to restrain himself from removing her clothes right then and there.  Sure, they were in a romantic, secluded spot, but his willpower and sense of honor prohibited him from dipping into his primal urges, though he definitely wanted to.

“I love you Lucas Brian Clark.”

For a moment, the words did not register; he did not fully comprehend what her luscious red lips had just loosed to the Carolinian air.  Eyes widened, Luke gulped solemnly as she waited patiently for him to speak.  Fear begged to be loosed into his racing bloodstream, but he shoved it away.  Then, in reverent revelation, he understood.  A warm, toothy smile filled his face as he pulled her up into him so he could whisper into her ears.

“I love you too, darling.”  Unbidden, his lips found hers and they remained, locked in passionate embrace, for several long, standstill moments.  It took an eternity for them to tear away for breath, but after a few uneven gulps, their lips fought through the smoldering and greeted each other once again.  And slowly, ever so slowly, they were lost in it for a long, long time.

*

“That’s beautiful,” mouthed Joy, nearly breathless.  Just at that moment, a lithe woman in a too-tight cherry red dress sashayed up to the bar and ordered a Red Headed S**t.  Shaking her head in diminished amusement and thinking that it was quite an appropriate drink, Joy excused herself to fill the order.  Out of the corner of her eyes, she watched as Luke took a feeble sip of his lukewarm beer before returning his hands to the worn ring.

“Thanks doll,” cooed red dress when Joy handed over the drink; then, turning so that everyone in the bar could get an eyeful, she floated back to her date- a beefy, bald man that looked like he belonged in prison or a biker gang. 

“It was a feeling that I’d never felt before and only ever felt because of her.”  As he spoke, Luke pushed the glistening glass around between his hands.

Joy plopped back down in front of Luke once more and searched for the right words to placate some of the man’s grief.  His sorrow seemed to run deeper than anything she had ever seen; you never really witnessed the intense loves in the bar setting and it was not the same seeing it on the television screen.

“So, she married you?  How’d you propose to her?” She could think of nothing else to ask and, despite her better judgment, curiosity won out.  “I bet you were nervous.”

“Oh, absolutely; only a fool claims he isn’t nervous when he’s about to propose to the love of his life.”  For a split second, a wry smile flickered in the darkness beneath his snowy mane.  “And, boy was I nervous.”

*

“Close your eyes, love. I have a surprise.”  Luke put the fine, woolen scarf up around her eyes, making sure to tie it tight enough to block out her vision, but not so tight that it would prove problematic to remove.  Before releasing her, he dipped in to plant a loving kiss on her lips; a smile greeted his parting touch as he took her hand and led her onward.

“Where are we going?”

“Just trust me,” he purred gently.  “We’re almost there.”  Silently, he propelled her through the narrow hallways, towards the room which housed his surprise.  Once they arrived in the spacious, vibrantly decorated living room, he guided her to the comfy, plush couch and lowered her down onto one of the firm cushions. 

“Wait here,” he mumbled, huskily, as he struggled inwardly to let go of her lingering fingertips.  “And no peeking!”

With her silken hands in the burgundy cloth that covered her lap, Adriana waited impatiently for Luke to return.  Quickly, he left the room and sprinted towards the bedroom, where his gift was hidden; after a few frantic minutes of searching- he forgot that he had put it in the drawer with his undergarments- Luke came tumbling back.  Gingerly, he placed the object down on the redwood table in front of her and sat back on his haunches.

“Okay, you can take the scarf off.”

“Oh, what are you- Oh my God, Luke!”  It took less than a minute for her to see what was on the table, laid bare for her to see.  Her gaze shifted between his grinning face to the sparkling diamond below. 

“Adriana, for the longest time, I have known that you were quite an amazing human being. In the past, I used you as a model to judge others by, until one day, in a moment of unexpected shock I realized that there was something about you... something I couldn't put my finger on. You are my best friend, the love of my life, and I have sworn that you alone are the one I want to be with. I don't make promises lightly and I never break the important ones. It is you, and only you, that I will make this promise to. As long as breath still lingers in this body, I will fight for your heart, and as long as the world turns, I will love you. So, darlin’, will you do me a great honor and be my wife?"

Her hand drifted over her wide open mouth as warm, salted tears crested the rims of her eyes.  As she reached up to put her arms around his broad shoulders, they fell free, tumbling down to the denim slopes that she wrapped her arms around.  “Yes!  My God, yes! It’s beautiful Luke!”

“I love you Adriana.  You make me extremely happy,” he whispered into her hair, as he held her against him.

“I love you too.  I will always love you!” She kissed him before he pulled away to slip the ring onto her awaiting finger.  “Always.”

*

Gradually, large droplets of scalding teardrops dripped from the corners of Luke’s wrinkled eyes and slid down the length of his pointed nose.  Unashamedly, he let them fall as his words filled Joy with a sadness of her own.  Speechless, she did not know what words she could offer to comfort him; in that oppressive silence, Luke clambered from his barstool and trudged towards the exit. 

Just as silently as he had entered into her life, Luke had left it; she kicked herself immediately after wishing that he had never come to the bar.  Shrugging, she pulled the towel from her waistband and went to work cleaning the spot where he had been sitting.  Something on the seat adjacent to where the old fellow had been sitting was a folded newspaper. 

“Strange, I don’t remember him reading a paper tonight,” she said, frowning, as she went around the bar so she could reach it.  Leaning down, she lifted it from the broken plastic seat, and brought it up towards the dim, overhead light.

Folded perfectly, so that the first thing seen a person would see when it was picked up, was a pair of black and white photographs.  It was the same woman, though the pictures had been taken decades apart.  She had been a beautiful woman and age had done nothing to dull that beauty.  At first, Joy did not register who the person was, or what page she was looking at. Finally, recognition dawned on her and the paper slid from her hands, crashing on the hard floor at her feet.

“Oh… no…”

The name, Adriana Clark, was of Luke’s wife and she had left him, but not like Joy had imagined.  At the top of the page had been a word that no one likes to see; it was a word that Joy had not focused on since she was a little child.  Obituaries.  And he was right; they had loved each other always.

 

 

© 2011 Drifter


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I love this story. Its so sweet and sad. I feel so sorry for the old man. The memories of his wife are so beautiful and romantic. This is a great story, very well writen. I love Joy's personality and the emtion packed within Luke. Very, very good job!

Posted 7 Years Ago



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Added on August 22, 2011
Last Updated on December 3, 2011

Author

Drifter
Drifter

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About
The great joy of writing fiction is that you get to play God and not feel bad when you ruin peoples' lives. In stories, all the things we detest in day-to-day existence is acceptable; we want drama, .. more..

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