I've been sitting here, alone, at this table for almost my school's entire annual masquerade ball. My friends have all asked, begged, pleaded, and urged me to dance. Even now, my friend is yelling, "Nikki, babe, come dance with me," but I'm going to politely refuse him like I have done everyone else all night. Because I'm waiting for someone.
I just can't remember who.
In fact, I can't remember almost anything at all. Everything I know about myself has been told to me by social workers, detectives, and my adoptive mother. They say I was abandoned at the local orphanage when I was three. When I was eleven, the orphanage burned to the ground, leaving only me alive. Anyone who knew anything about me was deceased. Salvaged from the wreckage was part of my burnt record. All that remained unscathed was my picture, date of birth, and brief history. They asked me if I could remember anything else. Did I know my name? Where were we? What was the day of the week? What was the month? The year?
I told them I didn't remember anything. But I'm a liar.
I remember a boy. I remember that he had beautiful green eyes. I remember we used to play together in the park nearby the orphanage. I remember everyday since I was left at the orphanage, he would walk from his apartment, down the busy street, and come play with me. He was my best friend, but then I remember he moved away and left me here. But, I remember he made me a promise, the day he moved away, coincidentally on my seventh birthday.
"When you turn eighteen, I'll ask you to marry me on your birthday, I promise! Then I won't have to move away from you ever again."
"It's a promise!" I answered, "I'll never forgive you if you forget me!"
"I'll never forgive you if you say no!"
"I won't. I promise!"
Irony is a bitch. Isn't it funny how I can just barely remember him but wouldn't forgive him if he forgot me? Isn't it funny how I can't remember his name, or mine? It's also funny how I'm waiting for him at this masquerade ball that he can't possibly know is happening. There is no way he can find me, in this noisy outdoor ballroom filled with dancing graduates and the sound of music with a loud, pounding bass, with air beginning to reek of spiked punch.
He never promised he'd always find me.
I looked up at the clock tower, which I could see just barely poking above the trees. My tears were coming hot and fast, and I couldn't read it through my tears. And then I heard it chime. I didn't even bother to listen to count how many times.
I stood up from my table and ripped off my mask, tossing it angrily into the fountain as I ran by. I tried to keep my long skirts gathered as I burst through the doors into the main building. Running through a second set of doors, I was greeted once again by the cool night air, away from the sounds of partying and laughing and the smell of alcohol, and instead hearing the taxicabs zip by, and the taunting chimes of the clock tower. I still hadn't bothered to read the clock to figure out what the time was. I knew that he couldn't be coming after all.
I raced down the staircase, heading for the sidewalk, so I could go somewhere, anywhere, far away from this masquerade ball. I almost made it to the sidewalk. But then my shoe went flying off, and I knew I was about to be rather ungracefully delivered to the pavement.
But I didn't feel myself hit anything.
"You should really be more careful, Miss." A young man's voice said to me, genuinely concerned. But I really didn't want anything to do with any members of the male gender at the moment.
"Thank you, sir, but I'm quite alr- ah!" I yelped as I tired to put weight on the shoeless foot. It was painful, and there was no way I could walk anywhere, especially in high heels.
"Miss, you must have twisted your ankle. Please, allow me to help." I was in no condition to protest, even though I was dying to. I refused to look at him, but let him retrieve my shoe and assist me down the street to a deserted park. He headed for a fountain in a grove of trees and helped me sit on the ledge of the fountain. I pushed my skirts out of the way and dipped my feet in the cold water, letting the water that poured out of the top and into the pool splash onto the edges of my scarlet dress. The young man sat with his back against a nearby tree, not facing me. We sat in our positions for a long silent while.
"Excuse me, Miss, why are you crying?"
I began to explain that I wasn't crying, but when I reached up and touched my cheek, steady tears were rolling down it like rain on a windowpane during a storm. I looked down at the water in the fountain.
"Some people don't uphold promises."
I heard the young man get up from the tree and saunter over to the fountain. His feet joined mine in the fountain soon thereafter. He laughed quietly to himself.
"This brings back memories." I couldn't say it did for me, since I didn't have any, so I remained quiet. He continued anyways, "There was a girl I knew when I was a kid, and we used to hang out in a fountain like this all the time. By now, there's no way she'd remember, but I came here looking for her tonight anyways. This color," he gestured to my scarlet dress, "was her favorite."
Scarlet is my favorite.
"She had beautiful, long brown hair, she always complained that it only had a slight wave to it, and she thought hair should be straight, curly, or wavy, no slight about it."
He laughed, but I didn't, because I think that same thing, even though it's silly.
"But, I think her best feature is her eyes. Blue, like the sky on a sunny day."
My eyes are blue.
"Did you love her?" I blurted out, unable to stop myself. I raised my head to look at his face for the first time since I'd met him that night, but he wasn't looking at me.
"Everything about her, down the last syllable of her name, even though she used to say that she wished we could trade last names, because she hated hers. We used to make promises, like this," his pinky found mine and firmly wrapped around it, and he didn't even have to turn his head, "In parks, just like this one. In fact, right there," he pointed. He turned his head to met mine, and I stared directly into a pair of beautiful, green eyes.
"Those chimes that made you cry signaled eleven o'clock, not midnight. It's still your birthday," he paused, smiling, "I would never, could never, break a promise to you, Miss Alexandra Horowitz."
My eyes grew wide at the mention of my name, my real name. I was Alexandra Horowitz, not Nicole Slade. Everything flooded back, and I remember everything.
I knew his name.
He laughed, "Say it again," He put his fingers on my lips, like a deaf and blind man trying to read them.
"Demetri…Grey," I grinned and he returned it, retracting his fingers. "I remember…everything."
"So…you'll remember this?" He pulled out a ring box and stayed close next to me on the fountain ledge, "You can have my last name now. Will you please marry me, Alexandra?"
"I made you a promise that I would, didn't I?"
He laughed and kissed me, but we both lost our balance and toppled into shallow water of the fountain. We didn't care, and kissed again as the water poured onto us.
And as we kissed in the cool fountain waters, underneath the stars, in our park, listening to the clock strike midnight, I felt confident, for the first time in years, that I would remember this forever.
A/N: Longest short-story-one-shot so far! =D Yay! Thank you all for reading, I would love it if you could review, I'm always looking for comments about what can improve and what you liked ^^