A Promise

There is no denying that Samantha’s love for Tobias is her curse. She remembers the days she was half her size today, running around chasing little Tobias, playing games and laughing together.

“Sammy, you and I will always be together,” Tobias would say, making a promise she actually believed he’d keep.

Two decades later, she still remembers. Little children and their promises, she thinks to herself, such naive minds.

They’d gone separate ways years ago, and yet she still sees his face every now and then whenever she closes her eyes. Social media has shown how he’s been living well, with a beautiful fiancee and getting ready for an upcoming wedding.

“I’m so happy for you, fool,” Samantha says, looking at his posted photos on Facebook. A part of her heart feels broken, but she will just ignore that.

Eventually, she knows she’ll have to let go. Eventually, she’ll stop remembering.

She then puts her phone down and closes her eyes. It doesn’t hurt anymore, she says, but somehow she can’t forget her childhood friend’s stupid, obviously broken promise.

Few hours later, there’s knocking on her door. Samantha, already asleep for some time now, wakes up alarmed, jumping out of her bed and running towards the door. She looks at the clock and it points at 2 AM in the morning.

She grabs her coat, to look presentable to whoever is knocking her door at this time, of course, and heads to the door.

For some reason, her heart skips a beat and her cheeks grow red when she reaches for the knob. It’s a familiar feeling, and she can’t seem to know what it is to be exact.

Samantha opens the door to the most unexpected visit.

The last thing that’d cross her mind.

Or so she convinced herself from time to time.

“I was stupid,” Tobias says, his eyes growing wide as he’s running out of breath. He must have been running to get to Samantha’s apartment, and Samantha holds her breath.

Maybe she’s still half asleep, she thinks. Maybe this is just a dream. As she blinks several times, the realization that Tobias is indeed standing in front of her starts sinking in.

“What are you doing here?” she finally catches her voice and asks, holding onto the doorknob like her life depends on it. She’s ready to slam the door if needed.

“I was stupid, Sam. I can’t marry her. I don’t love her.” He says it like he truly means it, and Sam can’t understand this uneasy poke at her heart.

Something doesn’t feel right.

But they’d been good friends their whole lives, and a big chunk of Samantha’s heart tells her to do the one thing she’s good at: being a good friend.

She sighs deeply and looks into his eyes. They are lost and sad, and she can’t remember the last time she’d seen Tobias this confused. “Firstly, don’t make decisions when you’re emotionally unstable. Secondly, don’t try to do anything stupid. Thirdly, do you want to talk about it?”

He nods, and she gestures him to come in.

So Tobias walks in, straight to the kitchen, and sits down. Samantha wonders if this is a bad idea, but as long as she doesn’t do anything stupid, she will be fine.

“I’ll make some tea. You liked the matcha my cousin sent from Japan, and I still got some.”

“It’s okay, I don’t want to trouble you at this hour,” he responds, looking around the apartment he hadn’t visited in years by now.

“If you didn’t want to trouble me, you wouldn’t have come here,” she says, pulling a chair and sitting down, facing the one friend she would never expect coming to see her at such time.

“Sam, do you remember the promise I used to make when we were little?”

Samantha’s blood freezes. Time stops for her, and she wonders what’s going on. Why is he here? What does he want?

“What promise?”

“That you and I will always be together.”

That fool, Samantha thinks. Fool, fool, fool.

“Of course not. We were so young, silly, why would I remember such promise?” she lies through her teeth, and she knows she’s not going to regret it.

Tobias is engaged, she reminds herself, whatever struggle he’s going through right now is just temporary. Perhaps he’s getting cold feet.

“Well, I remember,” he says, “I never forget.”

He looks straight into her eyes, unmoved, and she feels like she’s crumbling down under his gaze. This isn’t real, and it cannot be, she repeats in her head.

“So? Is that why you came all the way here? To ask me that?” She gets up and starts making some tea, deciding it be better to keep some physical distance from him.

Tobias grows quiet. She glances at him several times, and knows that from his eyes just how confused he truly is.

“Are you scared of marriage? Is that it?” Samantha starts again, “You were always such a player before you met Liana… Are you scared of being tied down to just one woman?”

He looks a bit hurt by what she just said. Samantha doesn’t know anymore what could hurt her friend, it’s been so long since they last spoke to each other.

“I came here because I couldn’t stop thinking about that promise,” he answers. “I promised you, many times, that you and I would always be together.”

The clock is ticking pretty loudly, Samantha thinks, and she starts getting annoyed.

“Sammy, a promise is a promise. I should’ve kept it, right? I should keep it. I should have always gone back to you. I should’ve never left. It’s always been you, don’t you know?” Tobias’s eyes worry Samantha now. His confession sends cold shivers down her spine.

Unfortunately, he isn’t done.

“I left Liana few hours ago. I told her that I couldn’t marry her, or be with her anymore. I want to be with you. I’ve always loved you, and now I want to have a new start with you.”

Samantha’s heart tells her to end it. It isn’t right, the heart says, and she listens.

“Tobias, you should forget about it. It’s a promise little kids made. They had expiration date. Really, you shouldn’t have come here over a promise you made decades ago! You should think about whatever that’s going on in your life right now, and go back to Liana.”

Her voice grows colder and bigger, her cheeks grow hot, and Samantha continues.

“I don’t know what you’re doing, coming here at this hour just to talk about childhood, but don’t use that old promise as an excuse to whatever crap you’re trying to avoid in your life.”

She stops herself, takes deep breaths, and looks away.

Tobias is quiet, and very still. He looks at the time, ticking towards 3 AM, gets up, and repeats the promise as if it was just made yesterday.

“You and I will always be together, Sammy.”

Samantha’s hands start shaking. She feels cold, as if she’s been trapped in a block of ice. Her heart is racing like mad as she watches Tobias walk slowly towards her door.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” he says before reaching the door, “You and I will always be together, I’ll make sure of it.”

She looks down at her feet and wonders why they seem to be glued onto the cold marble floor. Calming herself down, she clutches onto her heart and wonders if she can just erase this from her memory.

After few minutes have passed, Samantha walks back to her bed and lies down.

Should she get restraining order? The look in Tobias’s eyes made her feel uneasy. Terrified. And she can’t shake off the feeling.

She reaches out for her phone to see if there’s anything before going back to sleep.

And there it is, a block of notification that burns.

Five missed calls. Liana.

For some reason, she forgot to delete Liana’s contact from her phone and there it is, staring at her in the form of five missed calls.

I should just let her think I’ve been asleep already, Samantha thinks. It’s such ungodly hour by then that there is no obligation to call Liana back.

Samantha closes her eyes and tries to sleep. Her mind floats and wanders everywhere. Whatever just happened strikes her hard. She doesn’t know what to do, and if Tobias will actually return tomorrow.

“Don’t overthink. Just call Liana later and ask what’s going on…” she says out loud, convincing herself to get some sleep.

Few hours later, the day arrives, and Samantha got almost no sleep.

She gets dressed, goes to her meetings, and has lunch with her best friend Gale.

“What is a childhood’s promise? It’s not something one should carry all the way to death,” she says, stabbing her baked salmon and glaring at every man walking by the restaurant she’s sitting at.

Gale stops her from destroying her meal, asking, “What’s bothering you, little bird? Seriously, you’ve had this sour face since I picked you up an hour ago. I actually thought it was over something else.”

Samantha sighs loudly.

Then she looks up at Gale.

“Something else? What else would I be upset over?”

Gale looks surprised. He then reaches out to hold her hands.

“You know, that Tobias died last night.”

Samantha’s heart drops. Did he come to see her before he died?

There’s a chaos of everything running wild in her heart. There’s confusion, fear, sadness, and more.

“Are you sure?” she asks Gale, remembering the missed calls from Liana. Now she wonders what the missed calls were over.

“It’s the only thing flooding my Facebook feed since this morning. I know you don’t check Facebook often, maybe that’s why you didn’t hear… Tobias got hit by a car at 1 AM, apparently he was running somewhere after a fight with Liana… and he crossed the road without looking…”

1 AM.

But how?

Then Samantha’s blood freezes again one more time, when her gaze is stuck at a man standing few feet away from her and Gale.

He’s smiling at her, so sweetly it terrifies her to the bones.

She knows now why her heart felt heavy last night. Why it felt so familiar and yet strange. Why she was scared the whole time.

Gale looks at her, worried, “What are you looking at, Sam? Are you okay?”

Samantha stares at what she now knows as nothingness to everyone else around her. Yet there he is, as real as any man can be, and as dead as a broken promise.

“A promise kept for a lifetime, that fool,” Samantha says to herself, loud enough that Gale hears her and asks if she’s okay.

No, there is no way she will be okay. There is no way she can move past this.

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