No. 15: Write a Short Story: A Simple Promise - Part II
Date: Fall 2000
(Continued from Part I)Well. That was... interesting.
The next morning, Amalia was all smiles when she woke up and headed down the stairs. Her happiness was shattered when, upon entering the living room, she found her Grandmother Helen Bryan holding Jared’s sobbing grandmother, Marian Hamilton.
“What’s wrong?” Amalia asked looking very concerned.
“Amalia, dear, maybe you should sit down,” Helen said seriously. Once Amalia was seated, her grandmother began to calmly explain what was amiss. Early this morning, Harry Hamilton and Jared had been in a car accident on the way to the docks. Harry was killed and Jared was in critical condition at the local hospital.
Amalia was in complete denial. When she finally was able to accept this, all she could do was cry. Once Marian and Amalia composed themselves, Helen drove them to the hospital. When they got to the hospital, Amalia sat out in the waiting room while Marian went in to sit with an unconscious Jared. While she sat there, Amalia began to remember a couple of the moments she and Jared had shared during the summer.
Two months ago, the two of them got up really early one Sunday morning, before the sun rose. They drove up to a mountain pond in Acadia National Park. They sat fishing, though they spent more time talking about their lives, and hopes and dreams.
“I love music and words,” Amalia said, eyes aglow. “They are my passion in life. I feel completely at peace while I write and sing. What about you, Jar, what is the thing that makes you so happy?”
Jared looked thoughtful for a few moments before answering. “I guess sailing. When I’m on the ocean, it’s like no other feeling in the world.” They looked at one another and started giggling. Not because what he said was funny, but because it was a way to get over their nervous feeling. That was the first moment that the two of them completely connected.
Amalia smiled at the memory. She looked up to see Marian walk out of Jared’s hospital room.
“Why don’t you go in and sit with him for a while, Amalia darling,” Marian said giving her a brave smile. Once settled in the room, Amalia started remembering yet another time they were together. This one had been only last week in her Grandma Helen’s living room.
Good Will Hunting was playing on the television screen that the two teens were watching.
“I’ve really got to stop letting you pick out the movies,” Jared said rolling his eyes. “I don’t know how many more chick flicks I can handle in one summer.”
Amalia laughed at the face he was making. “Silly, Jar. I don’t pick out that many chick flicks.” Jared rolled his eyes again, “Okay maybe I do. Who cares what you say? I won’t let you ruin this movie for me.”
They watched the movie for a while longer. Then Amalia got up to get some more popcorn. When she came back, she set the popcorn down and sat down to read a letter she had just gotten.
“Let me see, let me see,” Jared said grabbing the letter. “Who is it from?”
“My best-friend, Mel,” Amalia said, pretending to look annoyed.
“How cute, Mal and Mel,” Jared teased. The letter read:
Hey girl? How are you doing? I’m fine. From what your letters say, it sounds like you are having a blast up there in Maine. Who’d have guessed you would in Small Town, U.S.A? Things here have been pretty uneventful.
Aaron, the evil ex, has been bothering me to try to get your Grandma’s address. Since we’re best buds, I told him no. He says he misses you, and that he is a “changed man”. I wouldn’t buy it. He is really obsessed with you. Blah, how did you ever go out with him? What did you see in him, other than that fact that he was rich, popular and good looking? Wait a minute, I just answered my own question. Thank God you got over looking for that in a guy.
I can’t wait till you come back and tell me about your summer. I know I’ve got a lot for you to hear. Speaking of sharing tid-bits, I can’t wait to hear about that hottie you have next door to you. I really liked the picture you sent me of you two. Tell me one thing, did you two ever hook up? If you didn’t, that’s such a shame. I mean, two attractive, nice people not together, what a crime?
Anyway, I’ve got to go, but HAPPY (early) BIRTHDAY. I’ll see you soon!
Lots of Love,
Jared looked up from the letter and raised an eyebrow. “Wow, so she thinks I’m a hottie.” He was desperately trying to hide his concern about what he read about her ex-boyfriend Aaron. “So who is Aaron, a former boyfriend?”
Amalia looked away from the screen briefly, “Yeah he is. I broke up with him back at the end of April. He was a major jerk. Mel sure is funny.”
“Why, cause she thinks I’m a ‘hottie’?” Jared sarcastically asked.
“You’re so funny, Jar. Maybe you should think about pursuing a career as a stand up comic,” Amalia said looking at the t.v. again.
“So, Mal,” Jared said slyly, “have we decided to make it official? You know, become an item. After all, I’d hate to disappoint your friend.”
“Boy that Matt Damon is a stud muffin,” Amalia said, changing the subject. “And Ben Affleck isn’t so bad either.”
Jared made a face and said, “I prefer Minnie Driver, myself.”
“Good for you,” Amalia said causing the two of them to burst out in a fit of giggles. They spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies and teasing one another.
What Amalia would give to have those days back, she didn’t know. She would probably give up everything she had, so Jared could pull through and come back to her. Amalia was with Jared when he woke up.
“Hey gorgeous,” Jared said smiling at her once his eyes focused. “I love you, sweetie.”
Gently squeezing his hand, Amalia answered back, “I love you too, Jar. You’re going to be okay, I know you will. We’re both going to be together always.” Wincing slightly at a pain in his side, Jared gazed into Amalia’s eyes. After a few moments, Jared spoke up, “In case I forget later, I just wanted to say thank you.” Amalia looked at him perplexed, “What do you mean?”
“Thank you,” he said breathing harshly, “for teaching me what it is to love and be loved. I will forever be indebted to you. That is why it’s so hard for me to ask you this.”
“What is it?” Amalia asked holding his hand up to her cheek.
“Remember of few things for me,’” Jared stopped for a minute.
“Remember…?” Amalia gently prodded.
“Remember that I’ll never give up without a fight. If it’s not too much trouble, watch out for Gram, she’ll need it. Then, remember that I’ll forever love you.” “I’ll love you too,” Amalia said kissing his hand. Jared smiled at her and winked. Then he closed his eyes once more. A tear slid down Amalia’s cheek as she said, “I’ll keep my promise no matter what.”
* * *
The sun shined on the dew-covered grass, as it rose over the Atlantic Ocean. A funeral was in procession. Three women sat very close to one another. Dressed in black, the two women sit holding onto one another. One of them is crying. The young lady, also garbed in black, who sat next to the elderly woman who was comforting the other, sat very stiffly.
Her long auburn was pulled into a tight bun at her nape. Her dark sunglasses hid her eyes, and her face held no expression other than her lips held together tightly.
“… His tragic death has taken him away from us, but this will not prevent him from being forever remembered. God bless you. Amen.” At the conclusion of the prayer, the three women each placed a single red rose on top of the casket.
While the two elderly women thanked the well wishers that came to the dinner following, the young lady snuck out of the house and walked down to the beach. She pulled out her hair and let it blow freely in the wind. She took off her shoes and the sunglasses. She waded out into the ocean and stared off into the horizon.
After some time, she softly spoke. “I love you. I will fulfill my promise, Jar. I will see you again, soon. I promise.”
* * *
A little less than a week after the funeral, a car pulled up to Mrs. Helen Bryan’s house. Amalia looked out the window and saw the car. She jumped out of the chair and ran out of the house. She opened the passenger side door and pulled the person off of the seat and gave them a huge hug.
“Oh it’s been forever. I missed you so much. You can’t know how much I’ve missed you,” Amalia said very quickly.
‘Woah Mal,” the young man with black hair and sparkly eyes gasped. “Remember, I’m and injured man. You wouldn’t want to see me back in the hospital, would you? You saw me last night, anyway.”
“Of course I don’t want to see you back in the hospital. I also know that I saw you yesterday, but it seems like so much more time when I was waiting for you Jar,” Amalia said, breathlessly.
“Yes it does, Mal,” Jared said, pushing a piece of hair away from her eyes, so he could look into them better. “Hey great news! My application to Boston College has already been accepted. Imagine that, not even started my senior year and I’m already accepted as long as I keep my grades up.”
“Hey that’s so great! Now we can definitely be together,” Amalia said smiling. “Have I told you, lately, how much I love you?”
“I don’t know,” Jared said pretending to look thoughtful. “How much?”
“This much,” Amalia then grabbed Jared closer and kissed him. It was a kiss of hope and promise for the future—their future.
Before I get bogged down in a lot of heavy critiquing, there are a few things about this basically ridiculous story that were done right. For one thing, I did a lot of research. Sure, Little Laura messed up the spelling of 'NSYNC (but who doesn't get confused about how to write that band's name?) and a few other proper nouns and words. (Would it kill you to grab a dictionary?)
But she also spent a full weekend doing research before she wrote her story. She researched locations. Settled on Maine. Picked a town. Found local landmarks, stores, restaurants. She even discovered local slang, like "ay'ah." (Do people still use that, or was it just in Sarah, Plain and Tall?)
She also created, and stuck with, a writing schedule. After completing her research Sunday afternoon, she wrote the first part. On Monday, she sat down and wrote for a couple of hours after school. She finished her first draft on Tuesday or Wednesday, made a few revisions and had it ready to go for peer reviews the following Friday.
That much is good, Little Laura. I wish I had half of your discipline, today. Granted, even I can hunker down for some serious writing for one week, but still... well done.
You're still fascinated by the East Coast, which is great, considering how poorly traveled you were at that point in your life. It's good you're interested in exploring the world, even if it's through stories.
Now for the parts that need work.
Don't use so many flashbacks. This story is between 5,000 and 6,000 words, and you don't need to have half of them be in italics. You also get more than a little confusing with your attempt to psych people out and make them think Jared is dead. I see where you were going, but it didn't quite work, did it? And you knew it at the time, but you pushed forward regardless.
It's kind of lazy to turn in something you know doesn't work, but I know you were trying to be clever by having that ending and the flashbacks. And that's good. You should always try to be clever. Even if you miss the mark. If you go for boring and what's always expected, you'll never succeed at writing something people will want to read.
You're still obsessed with writing about love. Even now, you're still a big fan of books about relationships, but there is more to them. I'm just concerned, because ever since middle school, everything you write is about finding love, and nothing else, really.
Little Laura, don't you know there's more to life than finding man and tying yourself to him before you even graduate high school? Don't you? There's this whole wide world out there. Yes, there's love. Yes, it's beautiful. Yes, it can hurt. And yes, sometimes that hurt is worth it. But it isn't absolutely everything. Sometimes, people don't have to have a serious relationship to be happy.
Sigh. I feel like I should tell you what happens, Little Laura, before you get too caught up in your romantic notions. You're going to find your first serious boyfriend in a few months. It'll be a sweet -- but overly dramatic -- relationship that will fizzle out halfway through sophomore year. Then you'll find another boyfriend. This relationship will be even faster, more intense and even more heartbreaking when it ends. It will take you most of junior year to get over it.
Then you will find your high school sweetheart. And it will be a beautiful, but complicated relationship that lasts through most of college. You even think he might be your forever. But he won't be. And that relationship will end, too. And it will hurt more than you let on. It will hurt for a long time. But then you're OK. And you'll focus on something other than your relationship status. You'll travel the country. You'll have bad and good jobs. You'll be happy, and you'll be sad. You'll be alone a lot of the time. But you'll be OK.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this: In life, sometimes you find love and it lasts forever. Sometimes you find it, but it takes a long time. And sometimes, you have to focus on loving yourself instead of waiting for a man to swoop in and save the day. I know this is pretty heavy, but I think it's for the best you know this before you decide to become a novelist.
Man, it's too bad you're so uptight, Little Laura, or I'd suggest we go grab a drink after that serious truth bomb. Want a coffee? What? You don't really like coffee yet? Wow. I feel like I hardly know you.
I know. Let's bond by listening to some classic 'NSYNC. We can even play the song you wrote into your story.
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