Promise of Forever(Promises, #3)

By: Jessica Wood



People always say that when you’re about to die, your life seems to flash before your eyes. I’d never thought too much about what that’d be like until it actually happened to me.

During the last few seconds before the car crashed through the wooden railing and propelled me off the edge of the bridge, time seemed to somehow slow down around me. Those precious seconds seemed to stretch on for a lifetime as images of my past came into focus—one after another—like a continuous stream of clips captured from the various important moments in my life.

Inevitably, Jackson appeared in almost all of them. My heart broke a little more each time he entered my mind. Growing up, he had always been the good in my life, the light at the end of the tunnel, the hope to get me through the hard times. And after nine years apart, I thought I finally had my best friend back. I thought we could finally get back to how things were between us. I thought we finally had a chance to be together.

I was wrong.

After all that’d happened, our love wasn’t meant to be. No matter what we did, we couldn’t avoid what we couldn’t change: our past and who we were. The heavy weight of loss pressed against my chest as I tried to accept this reality. We could never go on that first date tonight. We could never be anything but friends—siblings. We could never keep our promise to marry each other.

But maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Maybe I should have seen it coming. After all, my life had been filled with broken promises since as early as I could remember. When I was young, it had been the promises my mom made to me. Her promise to stop drinking and popping pills. Her promise to get better so we could live together like a family. Her promise that she’d be around to take care of me and be there whenever I needed her. Yet in the end, none of those promises were kept.

So shouldn’t I be used to the let-down of unfulfilled promises? Shouldn’t I be numbed to the feelings of heartache and despair? Shouldn’t I come to expect that the promises I held most dear to my heart would inextricably be the ones that would be left unfulfilled?

Then why had I held on to the hope that Jackson’s promise to marry me would be anything different? Why had I ever thought it would be one promise that wouldn’t be broken?

As the impact of the car slammed against the surface of the steel-like waters, my body jerked forward like a limp rag doll against the seatbelt that held me in place.

But I didn’t feel the pain of the crash’s impact. All I felt was the numbing, all-consuming pain of my broken heart as the cold darkness of the water welcomed me into her chilling embrace.



I fell back onto my bed with a wide grin on my face. I let out a deep, soothing sigh, feeling a wave of contentment and excitement wash down over my body. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been as happy as I’d been in the last twenty-four hours with Chloe. I drew in a deep inhale of breath, taking in her sweet scent that still lingered on my clothes, instantly fueling my desire to have her back in my arms again.

“Just a few more hours,” I said as I closed my eyes and imagined her lying next to me on the bed. When I’d walked her to her front door, I hadn’t wanted to say goodbye. I hadn’t wanted to walk away from her. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed her these past nine years until I’d finally given in to my feelings yesterday.

Since I was a teenager, I’d dated my fair share of girls, but none of the relationships ever turned into anything serious—I was never able to commit to a girl. I’d always blamed these failed relationships on external factors—we hadn’t been compatible, the timing had been wrong for us, or I had been too busy on my career to be able to make the commitment.

But after just one night with Chloe, I’d realized I was wrong. All my failed relationships hadn’t been caused by any external factor. Instead, it’d been an internal one: I’d already given my heart to Chloe years ago and it’d been by her side all along.

As I replayed my memories of yesterday and today in my head, I still couldn’t believe the moment I’d been waiting for since as early as I could remember was finally happening—the moment when I didn’t have to pretend I only wanted to be Chloe’s best friend, the moment I didn’t have to hide my feelings from her or everyone else, the moment we could finally be together.

I reminded myself that I needed to be patient and take things slow. To me, the idea of Chloe being my girlfriend had been a long time coming in my mind. Because of my stubborn pride, we’d lost more than nine years together, and a part of me—the crazy, irrational part—wanted to immediately make up for all the lost time. I wanted to rush to her side and propose to her right now. I wanted us to start our lives together, to begin our happily-ever-after together.

But in reality, this was new territory, and I didn’t want to rush Chloe or our relationship. Plus, now that I knew what actually had happened with Chloe in college and the part I’d played in it all, I realized that I didn’t deserve the forgiveness and acceptance that she’d offered me so easily. I realized that I didn’t deserve her.

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