“Promise Me” by Don Herald

PROMISE ME

I don’t remember when I realized I loved you.

Maybe it was at your surprise 40th birthday party two years ago when your eyes sparkled and danced, warning me mischief was soon to happen.

Maybe it was at our picnic beside the lake. How you giggled when that earnest young man stood in the canoe, courted his girl with a half-decent version of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’ and then fell awkwardly into the water.

Maybe it was when we left the others and walked to the playground. ‘I want to sit on the swing,’ you said. ‘Push me,’ you said. ‘Higher and higher like I’m flying free.’ Your hair, tossing wild in the wind, caught in your eyes and mouth. I wanted to brush it away with my breath and many light kisses. But didn’t.

We laughed at silly things, much like new lovers do, but weren’t. At least, not then.

Maybe it was when we watched the swans along the river. We shared a soft cone, daring long gazes at each other, then glancing away. But not embarrassed. I remember how your tongue made shallow smooth grooves in the fresh white cream. I wondered what you’d feel like on my skin.

Maybe it was when you came into my dreams. Just us, no commitments to others. Always together in the quick flashes of my thoughts. Nothing to pretend or fake. Just us.

Maybe it was when your dog got killed. You were weeping, its broken body in your lap. I pulled you into me, feeling your beating heart, your warm breath heavy with pain upon my neck.

Was it then I knew I loved you?

Maybe it was our first kiss. Not that ‘hey, how are you, good to see you’ kind of kiss. But deeper, our tongues eagerly exploring. Was it then I touched you? Butterfly touching bare skin beneath the light summer blouse you loved to wear.

Maybe it was your love poem. I opened it, daring not to breathe. I read your thoughts over and over, feeling your passion’s heat. Did I ever tell you I hid your poem so others wouldn’t find it? But I don’t remember where. Not even today.

Maybe it was when we first made love. I don’t remember exactly when. I couldn’t mark it on a calendar. But I do remember the rest of it. At least I think I do.

I do remember when it ended.

You phoned while I was driving to our swings in the park.

‘We mustn’t see each other again. Not ever. It’s complicated,’ you said.

‘Promise me,’ you said.

‘Please keep your word.’

You were crying. I wanted to reach out and pull you close. Tell you it’d be ok.

‘Just give us time,’ I wanted to say. But didn’t.

I don’t remember if I cried. Or if you might have felt my tears.

I don’t remember most of what I said to you back then.

Except for two words.

‘I promise.’

 

Artist Bio – Don Herald is a writer with thirty-two publishing credits for his short stories that frequently feature flawed characters who often decide to do the wrong thing for themselves and others. His work has been published online in the US, UK and Canada. A retired social worker and workplace behaviour consultant, Don lives in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

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