Chapter 1: Broken Promises
I was on my bed, dressed in a pair of dark jeans, paired with a green crop top and my long brown hair tied up in a ponytail. My suitcase was packed full and presently on the floor, but it wasn’t closed yet.
I was holding an old photo in hand. And in it was me in a park when I was ten, with my arm playfully around the neck of a small boy. I had on red shorts and a blue top and the boy blue baggy shorts with a white tank top on.
There were trees in the background, with kids playing around in the grass. We had just graduated from Middle School then, and we had decided to celebrate at the park with my brother, Jaxon, who was the photographer.
Ryan Adams was the name of the little boy. And even though he was a year older than me, then, I had been taller.
Ryan and I had been best friends since he moved in when he was eight, with his parents and baby sister, as our next-door neighbor. You could say our neighborhood was a little filled with rich and fancy people, and Ryan’s parents were super-rich. His mum’s a top shot Lawyer, while his dad’s a surgeon. Sadly though, this makes them both be less at home.
I could still remember when The Adams moved in, and my parents went over to welcome them. Then they invited my parents over for dinner. Including Jaxon, my older brother, and I.
Ryan had been one of the shyest boys I had ever met. Maybe even the most. He would lower his head whenever someone looked or talked to him. And he stuttered a lot whenever he answered questions at that time.
His parents and mine were in the sitting room watching a show. While Jax, who was ten then, was trying to teach Kira, Ryan’s two-year-old sister, how to spell the alphabet. Though, I was pretty sure she hadn’t understood a word that came out from his mouth.
I heard Ryan mutter earlier, that he would be upstairs in his room. I decided to look for him as I wasn’t a fan of the show our parents were watching. And I wasn’t good with babies either. I walked up the stairs and almost got lost until I saw a door which was left ajar. I knocked on it and heard something clattering on the floor. Then I heard Ryan’s scared voice;
“W... who’s there?”
“It’s me, Sam,” I answered, and heard his footsteps before he opened his door further. He then stood in front of me, with his head looking down at the floor.
“N...need anything?” He asked, but his voice sounded shaky.
Unlike him, I wasn’t shy or nervous around people. I liked making friends. And looking at him, he was cute. His black hair styled with gel, and his warm brown eye stood out.
“Nope. Just wanna hang out,” I answered.
“W...with me?” He sounded surprised.
“Well, there’s no one else here...so yeah.” I walked past him, leaving him standing at the doorway, stunned. His room was painted in blue, and in neat condition. His bed neatly laid with blue bedsheets, a desk pushed against the wall in a corner and filled with books, but arranged neatly. There was a Rubik’s cube on the floor, which he probably fell when he heard me knock.
“Your room looks...tidy. Unlike mine, which is a farmhouse, according to my mum.” I joked, and I thought I saw him smile until he pulled his face to look back down at the floor.
“Well, I c...could help you with cleaning it, if you want.” He didn’t stutter much this time, which surprised me. But his voice still shook. And I wanted to mess with him a bit, so I balled my fist and looked threatening at him.
“What does that mean? That I can’t clean it myself. You think you’re cleaner than I am?” I asked while stomping my foot childishly.
What he did next shocked me, though. His eyes teared up, and he started apologizing, with tears rolling down his cheeks.
“N..no, I...I’m sorry. T...that’s not what I meant. I...”
“Woah! No, please don’t cry. I was only joking. Please stop. I didn’t mean that.” I tried to console him, as my tiny self hugged his more tiny body until I heard his sobs start to die down.
“Y...You won’t hurt me?” And my heart broke at that. Why would he think that?
“Ryan, how old are you?” I asked, leading him to his chair at his desk and helping him sit.
“Eight.” He blinked at me.
“And why would you think a seven-year-old girl, like myself, would want to hurt you?”
“N... nothing.” He stuttered out. It was then I realized he stuttered whenever he was nervous, scared, or lying. And he was doing the latter now.
“It’s okay. You can trust me.” I placed my hand on his shoulder to calm him as he fidgeted with his fingers.
“Promise you won’t tell my mum or dad.”
He hesitated a little before saying, “Kids at my former school were mean...very mean. And bigger. They would hit or push me whenever my teacher praised me for having the highest score in a test, or just to bully me. I think I was the brightest in my class, and all the other kids hated me for that. I was also the smallest, so it was easier to pick on me.” I noticed that throughout, he didn’t stutter once. Like he wasn’t nervous around me anymore. That made me feel like I achieved something.
“Didn’t your parents notice any bruises?” I asked, wondering how he concealed them.
“They’re always busy and notice nothing. And I’m also very good at hiding them from our house helps.” He said it so proudly.
“It’s not good keeping something like that from your parents, though.” I proceeded to sit on his bed, already feeling tired.
“N...no, t...they can’t know about it. If they do, then mum will be overly worried, and I would feel bad. She already works so hard. I don’t want to stress her any more than she is.” Well, his stuttering is back. Guess he was nervous again. “Besides, since we’ve moved, I will no longer be going to that school again.”
“Yeah, true. You could go to my school,” I suggested before letting out a small yawn. I proceeded to lie down on the bed with my feet dangling off the edge. I was feeling sleepy already, and I loved my beauty sleep.
I was lying on my back, face up to the ceiling when I heard his footsteps getting closer. And then he was on the bed too, with me. But he was turned to me.
I turned to his direction, my eyes already feeling heavy. Then I heard him say,
“That would be nice.” I only smiled. And not being able to resist the temptation to sleep, succumbed to it.
That day, my parents and Ryan’s had looked for me until Mrs. Adam found me in Ryan’s room, both of us facing each other, and asleep.
Since then, Ryan and I had been close. We became best friends, and wherever I went, Ryan did too. We went to the same elementary school and middle school since Ryan wanted to be anywhere I was. Yeah, we were pretty inseparable.
I learned so much about him, like how his parents didn’t let him start school early because he was smaller than other kids. But after a year and there was no much improvement, they eventually let him anyway since he was very smart and eager to learn. I learned he was afraid of heights and was addicted to chocolates, but hated strawberry.
I practically knew him more than his mom. And I was the only friend he had as he wasn’t too comfortable around others. Although I had other friends, both boys, and girls. But Ryan was still my favorite.
He couldn’t go anywhere without me. Like seriously, one time, I was sick and couldn’t go to school. When he found out, he called in sick too and spent the whole day with me. His parents spoiled him a lot, so they let him do or have whatever he wanted. So he got away with it.
We hardly fought because he hated getting into arguments with me, and would quickly accept whatever I say, or apologize, even when I was the wrong one. I guess he didn’t want to lose me, even though I assured him daily I wouldn’t leave him. Maybe that was why when we started middle school, he made me pinky-swear that I would never leave him, no matter what. And like the child I was, I did. Because I also wanted to always see him happy. He was cuter when he smiled.
But I didn’t know that three years later, I would have to move away to my grandmother’s, and not be able to keep that promise.
I could still remember when my parents told me that my dad’s mom wasn’t feeling too well often, and was always getting sick. They couldn’t go by themselves to go take care of her because of their work. Mom was an Accountant and dad a Doctor, so they could only take leave for a while. But then they would have to go back. They needed someone to stay permanently with her.
Grandma refused to come live with us because she wouldn’t leave her home town or her home. She said she had too many memories of grandpa there, and she wasn’t ready to abandon them. She also refused to be admitted to an elderly home. According to her, she was still too young for that, even though she was in her early seventies.
So my parents had no choice. Someone had to go look after her and my brother, Jax, was the Quarter Back in his football team and couldn’t leave. I was the only option left. And I couldn’t exactly say no, as I loved my grandma. She might be a cranky old lady, but she was the best storyteller and cook. She cooked the best American dishes anyone could ask for, and she spoils her grandkids very much.
I was even a little bit excited about the news. But when I told Ryan, he wasn’t too happy about it.
“Don’t worry, Ryan. I’ll come to visit during the holidays, and you can come too if you want.” I was in his room then, trying to make him understand that my leaving wasn’t the end of the world.
He was seated beside me on his bed, pleading with me not to go. But I couldn’t tell my parents I didn’t want to go help grandma out. That would make me sound heartless. And even though they made it clear that I had a choice, I still couldn’t tell them no.
“You promised you wouldn’t leave me. You promised!” Ryan continued screaming at me, “How am I going to start the first year of high school all by myself?!”
“I’m sure there are other kids who want to be your friend, Ryan.”
“Yeah, like who? Tanya? Who ignores me when she talks with you. Bob? Who thinks I’m still supposed to be in elementary school because of my height.” As I said, I’m his only friend. I felt bad leaving him.
“Jax is there.”
“He’s a senior!”
“I won’t be gone forever, you know. As soon as grandma is okay, I’ll transfer back to your school. I promise. We could still talk on the phone and...”
“And what? You want to make more promises when you couldn’t keep one. I don’t need to hear this again. Just go. I don’t want you here.” He had cut me off.
His words were hurtful. I tried to reach for him, “You don’t mean that...”
“I do,” He said, then got down from his bed, and carried his small frame, towards the window. I knew then that he wanted to be alone. So I also stood up and walked towards the door.
“I’m leaving the day after tomorrow. Maybe you want to sleep over today or tomorrow?” I asked before leaving but got no answer. “Okay, then. I’ll let you know when I’m about to leave.” But I still got no answer. How could a fourteen-year-old boy, be so childish.
But the thing was, Ryan never came over to spend a sleepover with me. And when I tried going to his place, the maids said he didn’t want to see anyone. He never came out when I was leaving to tell me goodbye. He never even called me when I got to my grandma’s, neither did he pick my calls. Eventually, I stopped trying. And that’s when I knew our friendship had been broken, and might never be mended. All because I broke my promise.