No. 15: Write a Short Story: A Simple Promise - Part I
Date: Fall 2000
“Jared,” Marian Hamilton called up the stairs. “Jared Bradley, do you hear me? I said that Amalia is here.”
“Coming Gram,” Jared yelled to his grandmother while he quickly checked his short black hair in the mirror. He quickly ran down the stairs where his dark blue eyes met another pair of eyes that were equally blue.
Jared smiled back at the smiling face of his friend Amalia Rodgers. Amalia had been staying next door with her grandmother Helen Bryan for the summer. While she was in Bar Harbor, Maine, Jared had promised to show her around the smile island town and hang out with her.
“Are you ready, Mal?” Jared asked uncertainly. “I know I am, or at least I think I am. Well, am I or not?”
Amalia had her long auburn hair pulled back into a ponytail. She was wearing an orange spaghetti strap shirt with a pair of jean capris. She checked over the outfit Jared had on. He was wearing a very typical Jared outfit; faded blue jeans and a short sleeved blue T-shirt.
Sobering her face, Amalia made a dramatic sigh and said in mock despair, “I don’t know, but I guess you’ll have to do.” A smile once again came to her face and she leaned over to give Jared a big hug.
“So what are we doing today? You know I’ll only be here for another week. Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday I was just getting here.”
Both Jared and Amalia remembered their first meeting very well. It had been at the Bar Harbor airport. Amalia had been on an hour-long plane ride from her home in Boston Massachusetts.
Jared was beginning to suspect that the plane was late. He was getting ready to go ask a person at the information desk about it, when a pretty girl with auburn hair caught his attention. He quickly cleared his throat and walked over to where she was standing looking very lost.
“Excuse me, Miss, but are you Amalia Rodgers?”
Amalia quickly turned around to face the person who had just approached her. “Yes I am, but how do you know my name?”
Jared calmly held out his hand and said, “I’m Jared Bradley. I live next door to your grandmother. She didn’t feel up to making the drive, so I offered to come pick you up.”
Amalia accepted the offered hand with a smile and her own hand. Shaking Jared’s hand, she said, “Hi, Jared, it’s so nice to meet you. My grandma has mentioned you before. It was so nice of you to come and get me for her. Mom and I worry about her making too many car trips. How old did you say you were? I’m 16—well close enough anyway. I’ll be 16 on August 17. I’m from Boston, Massachusetts, lived there my whole life. I’ve never been to Maine, though. How long have you lived here? Do you have—oh I’m sorry. I’ve been rambling again, haven’t I? If I do that again, just tell me to shut up.”
Jared just stood there taking it all in. He wasn’t much of talker then, and so hearing her talk so openly threw him off a bit. Jared slightly smiled back at her and shyly said, “It’s nice to meet you, too. It was no problem for me coming to get you. I just got off work and it’s on the way. Let me see if I can answer your questions. I turned 17 in May. I’ve been living here in Bar Harbor with my grandparents for the past eight years. Here, let me take a couple of those bags for you.”
Amalia handed him two of her suitcases leaving herself her purse, a bag and a suitcase. Once again smiling, she began to talk.
“Thank you so much, Jared. You really are such a gentleman. I wish I could find at least one nice guy back in Boston, but never mind that. So Jared, tell me about yourself. Do you have any siblings? Friends? Family? Pets? Girlfriend? Anything to say that might help us get better aquatinted.”
On the drive to the house, Amalia and Jared learned about one another. Jared found out Amalia had two siblings. Her brother Preston was 11 years old and her sister Carrie was 8. Her father, Alan, was an engineering professor at MIT. Her mother Judy, was a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital. Amalia was going to be a junior at Savio Prep where she played basketball and volleyball. She was a member of the School Newspaper, and her favorite classes were Music Composition and Journalism. Her family lived in the ritziest part of Boston, Beacon Hill.
Likewise, Amalia heard about Jared’s life, though it took a bit of persuasion to get it out of him. Jared was an only child. His dad left when he was four, so he’d never really known him. Jared’s mother, Diana, was an archeologist, and always away on the job. Currently, she was in Greece studying the ancient ruins. Due to these circumstances, he lived with his grandpa, Harry Hamilton and his grandma, Marian. He was going to be a senior, the next year, at Harbor High. He was on the basketball and soccer teams. His favorite class was psychology and he was looking forward to his sociology class.
Ever since, they had been practically inseparable. Jared and Amalia spent every spare moment of their summer together.
On this day they had decided to drive into the shopping area of the small town of 4,500 people. They spent most of the drive just teasing one another and making small talk. As they approached the stores, Jared glanced over to the passenger side of his truck.
“So, Mal, where do we go first?”
Amalia looked over at Jared and said decidedly, “I think that we should definitely go to Sherman’s Book Store. I’d like to see if they have a book I’m looking for. Then, we should go to one of the clothing stores and see if we can get you something to wear.”
Ignoring her last comment, Jared dryly laughed and asked, “May I inquire as to what books and c.d.’s you want to squander your money on today? No, no, just stop. You keep forgetting how well I truly know you. You also don’t seem to remember that I know you have a ton of birthday money to spend. After all it’s your birthday.”
Amalia put her dramatic skills to a good use by rolling her eyes, “And you Jar, keep forgetting that you’ve only known me for two and a half months. Plus, my birthday is still almost a whole day away.”
“Ah’yah, but Mal, I saw the fat envelopes with money and cards in them that you got from your Grandma Bryan, your Grandma and Grandpa Rodgers, your four sets of aunts and uncles. Plus, you have that money your parents sent you to buy accessories for your present that is sitting in your garage that is red, has four wheels, leather seats, a c.d. player and a sun roof.” Jared paused for a quick breath of air before continuing. “Believe me, I know.”
“Well at least it’s good to know that you got over you little speech impediment,” Amalia said directing her gaze to the view outside the window of the black truck.
“Speech impediment?” Jared said bringing the car to an abrupt stop in front of Sherman’s. “I resent that!”
Opening the door, Amalia hopped out of the truck and walked up to the side walk. “Oh really? Puh-lease… it took me, like, twenty minutes of straight rambling to get a few words out of you. Oh well, you know I can’t hate you because, well how could anyone ever hate someone with those beautiful baby blues you’ve got glaring at me right now.”
They walked into Sherman’s BookStore together. Jared said, “So what you’re saying is that it’s just like I can’t hate you because of that cute little Boston accent that keeps sputtering out annoying sentence fragments.” Before she could yell another insult at him, Jared continued, “Anyway, let’s hurry up. After all that work this morning, I made quite an appetite for myself. How about we go to the Lompoc Cafe --.”
“I’m buying this time,” Amalia interrupted quietly heading off towards the ‘Fiction’ Section. She hadn’t meant to sound harsh. She just didn’t like Jared spending so much money on her. She knew that he got paid next to nothing at the job he had.
Every morning, except Sunday morning, Jared worked from 5:30 am till noon at one of the many coastal fishing shops. He didn’t get paid much, and Amalia knew that he was saving his money up for college. One day, Jared hoped to be a behavioral sciences investigator, while Amalia wanted to be a writer of books and music.
This pretty much meant that they were from two completely different worlds. He didn’t have the money to spoil her the way he did. Amalia cared about him more than she had for anyone else, and she truly hoped that he could go to college and accomplish his dream and she didn’t want to be the cause of his never getting to.
Just as she was about ready to head towards the counter, Jared pulled her aside and covered his eyes.
“Okay, let me guess what c.d.’s you have today… um… *N SYNC: No Strings Attached, Blink 182: The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show, 98 Degrees Revelation and Back Street Boys: Millenium. The books you have are The Silence of the Lambs, The Cider House Rules, Salem’s Lot and Hannibal.” Jared opened his eyes and put a triumphant grin on his face.
“Ooo,” Amalia said sarcastically, “so close, but wrong as usual. I have No Strings Attached, The Mark, Tom, and Travis Show, No Authority, and the Titian A.E. Soundtrack. As for books, I’ve got The Silence of the Lambs, The Cider House Rules, Roots and Troubling a Star. But sorry, no Back Street Boys, 98 Degrees or Hannibal.”
“Wha—bu—“ Jared sputtered. “How could you NOT buy Salem's Lot after I let you read it? And what’s this book Troubling A Star, anyway?”
“Well, Jar Sweet Pea, it’s very simple. I was so disgusted after reading that book, I decided that I would wait until somebody just decided to give me his or her copy. As for Troubling a Star, that is a book that I have been trying to find for a few years now. It is written by one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle. I have been reading the Austin series for a while now, and now I finally found this book. All I have to say to you right now is HA!” Amalia smiled happily at defeating his thinking that he knew her perfectly. “You also know of my not so secret love of the songs on the Titan A.E. Soundtrack and how I have been pining for the No Authority album for a while. Ugh, the Back Street Boys, I’m not even going to go there right now.”
Scowling slightly, Jared mumbled something under the lines of, “I knew I shouldn’t have taken her to the Titan A.E. movie. Should’ve guessed she’d want the c.d. Stupid Boy Bands, what’s the difference between one or the other anyway?”
“I heard that,” Amalia called out then turned her attention and smile to the clerk, a boy of about 14 whom seemed nervous around her. She waited patiently for him to add up the total.
Jared also grinned at the nervous boy, whose name was Anderson. Jared knew exactly why Anderson was nervous and completely felt empathy for the boy. Jared of all people knew the effect Amalia could have on a person.
It had been about a month prior to this day, at Acadia National Park Campgrounds. Jared and Amalia had decided to go camping. It was about 9:00pm and they had just watched the sun set, together. This was almost the moment that he fell head over heals for the pretty big city girl.
Jared was starting a bon-fire and meanwhile, Amalia pulled out her acoustic guitar and began tuning it and warming up her voice. Jared settled down next to her and turned his full attention towards her. Jared knew that she played the piano, he too played and they had discussed this before. It did surprise him a little to see that she could play the guitar, but then again, nothing Amalia did ever took him completely by surprise.
She began to sing a song he knew, and he joined her in singing. Their voices blended nicely and the song sounded amazing. When this song was completed, she continued to sing some more songs. Some of the songs she sang were church songs, while others were original compositions she had written herself.
Amalia started to sing one of her songs, and it caught Jared instantly. It was a song about pain, heartache, and losing someone you love. The song told of how her family had helped her through it. At this moment, Jared felt tears come to his eyes and turned slightly away from her. This sudden movement made Amalia look up and over to Jared. This had disturbed her.
In a concerned voice, Amalia said, “Jar, what’s wrong? Are you all right? Please, talk to me. Tell me what I did wrong.”
Turning back towards Amalia, with his eyes watery. His voice shook with emotion as he said, “You did nothing wrong Mal. The song was amazing. It just made me feel… I don’t know, I’m horrible with words. I’m not good at using them, like you are. Your song just made me feel emotions I didn’t count on. You are a truly beautiful person, Mal. You see things the way they are. You know how to make someone feel emotions. Someday, you’re going to be an amazing writer.”
He stopped and turned away. He did flinch a little when he felt Amalia’s arms go around his shoulders. She held him in a tight embrace, and his arms went around her waist. The held one another for a long time, Amalia comforting him as best as she could. That was the moment when Jared began to feel feelings towards Amalia he had never felt for another person.
Since then, the way he felt about her had intensified. He didn’t know what he would do when she left in a week and a half. For the moment, he didn’t want to think about that.
It was going to hurt too much. Right now, he just needed to think of a way he could tell her how he felt. He was scared of rejection. He didn’t want to have Amalia tell him that she didn’t feel the same way, but he knew he had to tell her. Even if she just wanted to be friends, he would still find a way of letting her know.
His thoughts were ridiculous. How could a girl like Amalia ever learn to love a person like him? She was beautiful, rich, sweet—she was Amalia. It still amazed Jared every time he thought of her. How a girl like her could be unattached was shocking, but Jared knew why she was. He knew that a girl like Amalia could only handle so many egotistical jerks in one lifetime. Jared would have liked to get his hands on the guy who had hurt Amalia so badly. Did that guy even know what a treasure he had while he had her?
They walked to the restaurant in silence. They then ate dinner at the Lompoc Café, a nice little family restaurant. After eating, they walked back to the truck. Amalia stopped at the window to Jack’s Jewelry Garden.
“Look Jar,” Amalia said pulling the hand she was holding back so Jared could see what she was looking at. “Isn’t that pretty?” Amalia pointed to a pink piece of coral on a golden chain. “Someday, I will own it!”
Jared looked at the necklace and nodded. He tugged lightly on her hand to get her to start walking again. After walking in silence, Jared stopped, turned to Amalia and picked up her other hand in his.
“Would you like to go out with me tomorrow night—to celebrate your birthday, of course. It would be a lot of fun,” Jared persuaded.
Amalia smiled slightly at him and said, “That would be great!”
‘To celebrate your birthday, of course.’ Amalia continued to repeat this line through her head. And why shouldn’t he want to do something with her when it was her birthday. This shouldn’t have bothered her, but only Amalia could know why it did. She wanted him to ask her out sometime, without there needing to be a cause. Amalia was certain he never would, after all, he did only think that they were friends. She wanted there to be more.
'How can life be so unfair,’ she silently wondered. ‘How can God create two people on earth that are so compatible, and only let one of them fall in love with the other?’
Amalia knew it and felt no use in denying it any longer. A little crush she had developed on him almost a month and a half ago had turned, slowly but surly, turned into more than infatuation and grown into love. It all started while she and Jared had been sharing one of their favorite past times together: basketball.
Jared stole the ball from Amalia and made his way towards the basket. Amalia ran ahead of him to block him. While running she tripped. Jared turned around just in time to see her fall. For a moment she just sat there stunned. She saw the blood trickling down her knee, and tears came to her eyes.
Jared ran over to her and sat down next to her. He put his arm around her and gently held her whispering some words of comfort. He released her fairly quickly, then he grabbed a water bottle and began to rinse her cut. Jared pulled a bandanna out of his pocket and wrapped it around her knee.
He stood up then carefully pulled her up, too. Amalia looked into his eyes and that was the moment it hit. The way he looked at her, his gaze full of tenderness, just made her feelings for him begin to take form in a different direction. It had happened so quickly and innocently enough, that it shouldn’t have happened that way. At least Amalia had never heard of love happening that fast. Love wasn’t as great as people said it was. It hurt, especially when you were in love with someone who wasn’t in love with you.
When they got back to their houses, Jared gave Amalia a hug goodbye. He said that he had some things to do.
“Remember, I’ll pick you up at 6:30 tomorrow. Dress up a bit too.”
* * *
The next night, Jared took Amalia to one of Bar Harbor’s nicest restaurants, Anthony’s Cucina Italiana. After this, they went for a walk on the beach. The sun had already set, so they had a beautiful star filled sky over head.
Jared suddenly reached over and gave Amalia a hug. When he pulled away and she looked down at a cold ring around her neck, Amalia saw the pink coral necklace she had been admiring in the window of Jack’s.
Before she could speak, Jared pulled her over to a spot where a blanket had been spread. He had her sit down, and he pulled out a guitar. She sat there looking confused, she knew that Jared didn’t know how to play, and she wondered if he wanted her to. As she reached out for the guitar, Jared began to play a song she recognized very well. He was playing her favorite song, ‘This I Promise You’. The fact that he was singing for her a song he hated was so sweet. Why would he do that for her?
Amalia felt like asking him, but he started singing along with the part he was playing. The last thing he sang was what touched her most.
‘And I will take, you in my arms,And hold you right where you belong.Till the day my life is through,This I promise you,This I promise you.’
She felt tears come to her eyes. It wasn’t the words that got her, as much as it was the look in his eyes. It was a look that she had never seen from him before. When he finished the song, it was all she could do not to attack him. So, as calmly as possible, Amalia crawled over to where he was and and put her arms around Jared’s neck.
Pulling away from her grasp just enough so he could see her, Jared said,
“I love you, Mal. You are everything to me. You know I’m not very good with words, but I love you. I am also promising that I will be here for you. Whenever you need someone, I’ll be the one you can turn to. If you don’t want to be that way, I understand, and we can just be—“
“Jar,” Amalia interrupted. “Could you please just stop for a minute. If you would’ve been quiet for a minute, you would’ve heard me say something under the lines of this. I love you, too, Jar. You may not think that you’re very good at words, but I think that you did just fine Jared. You said you loved me, that is all I need.”
“I love you so much. I’ve wanted to tell you for so long. I did mean what I said. You know, about the promising to be here for you forever. Even if being together doesn’t work out with our plans, you must know that I’ll be your friend. I know you don’t need another controlling guy, so I think that we should just take this slowly. Give us both a chance to be together before we make any huge decisions,” pausing and blushing, Jared continued. “God I’m rambling, but I did mean every word of that. If everything goes well, I’ll be with you all the time next year.”
Looking confused, Amalia asked, “What do you mean?”
“I’m going to apply myself to school more than ever, this year, and then I’ll hope I can go to Boston College. I’d do anything to be with you,” Jared explained.
Amalia smiled and gave him a light kiss.
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Yes, there's a rest of the story.
Haven't you figured out Little Laura was writing an epic romance novel for teens?
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