That Summer Promise
I sat there under the willow tree, writing from my memory, writing everything I remembered from him...
Do you remember the first day we met that summer?
Under the weeping willow, that surrounded me with its leaves. You were dressed finely because you were to turn in for your wedding day, which you had escaped leaving you're bride at the altar. That summer when you told me "Life isn't fair" I clearly have now learnt the lesson...'
August 20th 1939:Past
I sat at the trunk of the willow tree, holding this Diary in my hands, and as always, scribbling down furiously, tears streamed down my cheeks like a flowing river, infuriated at my mother for pressuring me to marry 17 year old Daniel Jones whose parents had happily agreed, my mother is one charmer.
Why? I can't imagine that at the tender age of 16 I have to marry Jones, out of all the English boys and what she asked me to marry was an entirely wealthy snobby arse that'll be sent to join the army, so I don't see the point of marrying with a man who'll die right after we get married. He might even be better off dead right now.
My dear friend Mary, who has a 'thing' for Daniel, well all the other girls had a 'thing' for him anyway. I cling to my Diary and wrapped an arm around my leg, my head resting on my knees. I sobbed noisily at the thought of marrying a wealthy bas-
Footsteps. I squeeze my eyes shut listening to the sound of the steady beat of footsteps. I hope it's not him. They get louder and stop beside the weeping willow- beside me.
"May I ask why you weep beneath the willow tree, woman?" asked a smooth voice, it was surprisingly calm and nothing like Jones'.
I shake my head, my forehead still on my knees.
"Well then woman," the voice said confidently "May I ask your name?"
Again I shake my head.
"I'm James Donovan," Yes I've heard that name before. Our mums know each other, you see, my mum's a gold digger and she went chasing after Mr Donovan, our mothers were childhood friends.
"And I just escaped my horrible future of being wed to an old hag..." the man, James Donovan, babbled on about himself while I wondered why he even told me this, I wasn't interested.
I had my own problems, I didn't look at his face because mine was still buried into my knees, and then James happened to mention the words 'needs a Wife, James and Wealthy' all in one sentence and immediately I was on red alert, my head snapped up. This man could be useful, and idea had burst into my head. What if I could escape my fate of being wed to Jones? I smiled at the thought, my mind raced gleefully.
"Why are you smiling, woman?" the man on my side had stopped to ask. I blinked clearing out the blurry vision taking in his tux and bow tie, his hazel eyes which contrasted nicely with his dark messy hair, the smooth slope of his nose and his manly build. He was very handsome, obviously a rich lad.
"Marie Wilson," I introduced myself. His face lit up in recognition, when we were very much young we used to sit under here, before my mother went chasing after Mr Donovan.
"Being forcefully wed Daniel Jones. Consider yourself lucky, Donovan, to have escaped such a fate." I replied curtly, holding out my hand. He shook it confidently and met my green eyes. He seemed surprised to look at me, I know I looked horrible but he didn't need to stare.
I probably said that out loud because he muttered "No, no, not you, I meant, Jones?"
I sighed and muttered purposely "If only I had someone better to take his place, which is exactly wealthy like him and handsome in looks, then maybe my mother would change her mind and take away this pain" and by pain I meant Jones. "Life isn't fair" he murmured. Very stupid of Donovan not to take the hint! I wasn't sure if he was talking to me or himself. "Life isn't fair..."
'Do you remember those nights we shared that summer?
And as lightly as feathers we danced at the formal party that summer night, my mother seemed happy with the sight of us, although you're parents disapproved of me. We sneaked out to returned to the weeping willow, talking and laughing, watching the waves hit the Cliffside and the wind whispered silent lullabies 'til light'
August 25th 1939:Past
So here I am sitting in the Formal Party, a gathering for those as wealthy as I- well I'm not rich to be honest.
I'm just pretty enough to get away with the fact I am rich, just like my mother has created this image of herself as a wealthy woman, but before father had died, we used to be. However, I don't fool everybody, because right now from across the room I can see a dark haired man in his forties who is talking rapidly to a hazel-eyed woman (his wife I suppose) and both looking in disgust at my direction.
I wouldn't want to confront them, it would be too obvious I'm not from their world and it isn't very well-mannered to pop up into a conversation.
Even if it means acting oblivious to the fact they're practically shoving a finger up your nose and pointing at you like you're an odd sock.
I watch the people who are dancing to the music band, they sound so lovely it hurts my ears. I wondered what it was like to dance... I see Daniel Jones his brilliant blue eyes glittering in the light, his blonde curly hair bouncing while he danced with girls; he practically had every girl chasing after him, a charming man he is, I'm still not fooled.
James Donovan: tall, dark and beautiful and is also walking across the dance floor; he shoots a brilliant smile at Jones who returns the favour while he carried on dancing gracefully with women, which I would never be able to do. I sigh and watch James Donovan make his way around. He stops to talk quickly to the hazel-eyed woman and dark haired man.
He looks so serious, and he also has the eyes of that woman...
How could I be so stupid?
That's Mr and Mrs Donovan! But then James catches my eye and waves. Surprised, I look away blushing nervously, why did he wave? Was he here to embarrass me? Or maybe confront me? Maybe he might-
"Hello there Miss Wilson" the smooth voice says, I recognise it instantly and I turn around to meet the handsome face that is smirking down at me, I'm guessing I must look very red. I look down, it was a habit when my 'friends' used to make fun of me, and his smile reminded me of just that.
"You'll do." He mutters under his breath, I stand there confused and he drags me on my heels towards the dance floor, the dance floor?
Oh no, no. No way! No... I think squeezing my eyes shut.
"Marie, open your eyes, we're going to dance" He laughs at me, and I still have my eyes shut.
The music begins and I open my eyes in panic. James is still smirking at me while the orchestra plays a soft melody and he mummers in my ear "Let me guide you then."
James wrapped an arm around my waist and takes my hands to his shoulders and we begin to sway to the beat. He moves his feet and I step on his. He laughs as I nearly topple over.
Damn my two left feet!
I feel nervous under his gaze which was an unusual feeling. I enjoyed the attention as every eye turned towards us, even David Jones, who would never look at me in such way. Even the dark-haired man and woman seemed very... Why did they look so embarrassed? I forgot, they're his parents! Shame.
Luckily, we snuck out into the night, his hand wrapped tightly around my wrist and I was laughing at how those girls looked so jealous.
I still wanted to ask about what he meant by 'You'll do' but I realised where we were. The willow trees arms which swayed soundlessly in the summer air and the wind whispered around us, and your face was so close to mine I could almost feel his – And he laughed. Destroyed the moment, by laughing in my face!
'Do you remember when we watched the sunset go down that summer?
You told me we'd always be here together, because we always were. While the sun burned fire and smeared orangey- red blood in the sky, and it all faded away to a black blur, while I rested my tired head on your shoulders, and fell asleep.'
My mother kept asking about James. I grew tired of her permanently opened mouth, even when she sleeps its open, if she could shut up for one millisecond it would be a miracle! I decided to sit under the willow tree, a week ago from when I met him, and I watched the leaves blowing in the barely-there wind.
Suddenly, hazel eyes are there. "I believe fate brought us together" James said, and I replied "Because you left your woman at the altar waiting for you" and James just smiled. So he sat down next to me.
"It so orange- I mean the sunset," I mutter.
"Really? It looks pretty red and pink to me. Not orange" He debated.
"Its orange," I narrow my eyes at him "not red"
I see him smirking down at me.
"Prove it then." He laughs.
"Well, usually the sun yellow in daylight, and if you darken the colour yellow you get orange, then it becomes twilight which comes right after the orange sunset" I answered.
James and I fought over the colour of the sunset; from red to pink he went. We agreed to orangey-red at the end. I was sure it was orange but I was very much tired over fighting. So he told me to rest my head on his shoulder, and that's exactly what I did. Unexpectedly comfortable might I add. And to my surprise I quickly fell asleep. My Diary slipped out my hand, I felt it fall.
And he falls asleep as well with his arms around my shoulders.
We wake up and scramble home. Today rumours are being spread about us, our little town sure loves to gossip, someone must have seen us!
Because right now Daniel Jones seems a little... how should I put it?
Daniel doesn't get defensive. Not when he has Mary practically throwing herself at him.
Did I forget to say goodbye to James? Can't remember!
'Do you remember saying goodbye?
I cried and you held me close to you, and I wondered if I would ever hear that steady beat of your heart once more, under the willow tree you said you'd meet me the next summers, and I agreed to your promise. You gave me a promise that summer that you'd return...'
James looked great in the army uniform, he really did.
"Saving the country" James said. "I'm going to return from war just fine and it would only be a couple of months."
All the soldiers were getting ready to leave, including Jones who looked quite weak. I couldn't help but smile at my luck of not marrying that idiot. James smiled at me when I told him this, his hazel eyes shining with, well... Happiness.
Everyone around us was saying their goodbye, some even crying and James and I were oblivious to reality.
"I like you, you know." He told me looking into my eyes. Butterflies rose in my gut.
"I like you too, James" I whisper softly in his ear.
"You deserve better than me, I left my woman at the altar, I even said goodbye to her because I wanted to let her go. I go out with women and take them for granted, but you, Marie you are one strange woman" He smiled down at me.
"Yeah, well if you think that's bad, my mother is a gold digger and I'm nowhere near as rich as you." I told him.
"I know," James replied. "My parents found out long ago when we were younger, the reason why they told me to avoid you, so it isn't really a secret is it?"
He kissed me on my lips, his arms wrapped around my waist. It felt so... perfect. I was smiling when he pulled me into a bear-hug.
"I don't like Goodbyes. You always lose something when you say it. I don't want to let you go, not yet" He whispered, I smiled at him and he smiled back.
"It'll be okay. It always is at the end, you know it, right? And I will never let you go, don't be daft" I replied.
"Then promise me something," he whispered into my ear.
"Anything" I whisper, my lips trembling, trying not to cry. It was like saying goodbye, but this was a Promise. Not Goodbye.
"Promise to wait for me under the willow tree in the summer, like we used to in the past. Promise that you'd wait there every summer, until I return."
"I promise I'll wait for you. But pinky promise me that you'll return to me." I smiled through a whispered.
"Pinky promise?" he questioned.
I took his hand and grabbed his little finger with mine and shook it. I grinned up at him.
"That's a pinky promise," I tell him.
He smiles down at me, "Oh, well then, I pinky promise too." James responds.
And with that he was gone with the other soldiers, to protect the country, and somehow knew he was also doing it for me.
'Do you remember the years I counted?'
Let's say I've waited forever. But the soldiers are said to be home soon. I can't wait to see you, if I see you. And sometimes in my dreams I think of you, and hope that your soul isn't lost on the battlefields. And in my dreams I hear the ricocheting of every bullet and fear for your life.'
August 15th1945: Today
My eyes scan across the rowdy noise of whooping people celebrating their soldiers coming home.
I'm watching from a distance, from the weeping willow. I scan again, taking in Jones who is dancing with Mary, other men hugging their wives, Young men putting away the guns, but no James. I scan the scene once more. He's safe, he is safe, I tell myself over and over again, scanning rapidly through the crowd of swarming people.
I squeeze my eyes shut, and I see me surrounded by leaves, figures dancing under the sky smeared with orangey-red blood, and I hear beating, going on forever. And I'm writing it all down, weeping under the willow tree.
I go to join the crowd to search for him and a man is standing on a chair, yelling for people o be quite. "I will announce the soldiers whose souls are lost in the battlefield"
He mutters a long list of names, and then his. "James Donovan" he says.
And my eyes brim with tears.
Mary and Daniel Jones come over to comfort me.
"Marie" Mary says, her arms wrap around me.
"Marie, James said something to you before he died, he told me something..." Jones says. He pities me I know.
"He said to tell you to look at the back of you diary, and he said he was sorry. Then he died. I'm sorry too." Jones murmured. "He was a good friend, and the only thing he'd ever talk about was the girl who sat under the willow tree in the summer. He said to tell her that he loved her, and that you knew who she was." Mary looked at him with confusion.
The words ran through my head making me shiver.
"He Promised" I whisper in a croaky voice.
My voice breaks into a broken cry. Just like my world does; it comes crumbling down with my heart. I've reached the end of the Diary, someone's written in it. I can't read it through my tears, but I try.
I remember the summer we met.
Under the weeping willow and I taught you what I learnt in life.
I remember when we danced that summer.
At the party, and again under the willow we went where I teased you like I did to other women.
I remember watching the sunset go down that summer.
I've never felt that way before about someone, I could never forget the way you fell asleep.
And here I am writing in your diary.
Reading every single note you ever made. Well you probably haven't seen this before because I know that you don't flick through the pages of your diary until you reach the end. And you've reached the end.
Soon I'm going to war, I just found out. When I'm 18, which is in a month's time from now.
I don't like goodbyes. I would never say goodbye to you, but only promise you. I'd keep a promise any day. If you don't ever see me again, and you're in this world without me, you live on for me.
I'm here with you forever and I'll be with you in your heart.
I sat there reading the last lines of the promise, while the sunset faded to black. Life isn't fair but I'll wait forever, you kept your promise. You've returned to me in my heart.
He remembered and kept That Summer Promise.
A/N: First story and finally finished one! xD
Review please and tell me what you think. Latersz then.