A Promise

Words spoken after a tragedy became a promise to a young life


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Sunlight streamed through the branches of the trees in the cemetery. The yellow rays shone on a pair of coffins laid out near freshly dug soil. The coffins were plain wood, simple and unadorned. A woman stood by them, standing still as a statue. As if in a trance, she couldn’t take her eyes off the two boxes laid out in front of her. 

One held her daughter, the other her son-in-law. Her whole family….

Wait…no…

Not her whole family. 

She looked down at the tiny hand gripping her thumb. Clarity began to return to her eyes. She knelt in front of the little girl and adjusted the butterfly clip in the little one’s hair. With tears in her eyes, she made a silent promise to the parents leaving behind a beautiful daughter. 

“I will look after her and raise her well. I promise.”

15 years later….

“Joanne! Where are you going? Stay for a while!”

“Uh…I should go home now, bye!”

Joanne ran out of the school gates, waving back to her friends. She came to a stop in front of an old woman standing nearby. 

“What are you doing right in front of my school grandma!” Joanne grabbed her grandma’s arm and tugged her away from the school building, towards the main street. 

“Thought I’d surprise you!” Joanne’s grandma handed her a brown paper bag “A batch from my newest recipe. It’ll be a hit with the customers!” 

Walking a few steps ahead, Joanne reached back, grabbed the bag, and started munching on the cookies. “Well, at least she makes the best cookies,” she thought. 

Back home, Joanne hung her bag by the front door and turned to her grandma. 

“You shouldn’t come to my school anymore”

“What’s the matter, dear?”

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“Grandma! You always leave the house in those same ratty sandals and that old sweater! You never buy new things for yourself; it’s embarrassing to be seen with you!” And with that Joanne rolled her eyes and went to her room, slamming the door behind her. 

Her grandma was stunned by the outburst. She hesitantly looked down at her well-worn sandals “These will hold up a few more years…” she thought, “….why get new clothes for an old lady” 

A few days later

Joanne got a call from her neighbour, “It’s your grandma, dear. She’s at the hospital and she’s very sick”

Joanne stood by the hospital bed and tucked the blanket under her grandma’s chin. She sat down next to her neighbour on the plastic chairs. 

“Thank you so much for bringing her here Ms. Brown”

“No worries dear, good thing I was with her when she fell. Exhaustion the doctors say. Poor thing, she works all day in that shop, never taking a day off.”

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Joanne listened to these words in silence. She looked at her sleeping grandma. All that medication allowed her to have a much-needed rest. 

“When did her hair get so white?” she thought, “Did she always have so many wrinkles?”

“You are lucky to have her. Why your grandma never buys herself a thing! Always wanting to save up for her beloved granddaughter.”

“W-what?…no…that’s not true, she hates buying things for herself” stammered Joanna.

“Your grandma and I are very close. I’ve known her for years. Trust me, dear, she loves shopping.” With that, her neighbour left, promising to visit again. 

Joanne stood up in shock.

 “I-I…never…. realized”

She gave a cry and dropped to her knees by the bed.

“Now, I will look after you grandma. I promise.”

Penned By: Rtr. Hashani Hewagama (Editorial Member 2021-22)

Edited, translated, and published by: RACSLIIT Editorial Team 2021-22

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