A boy promises his best friend never to speak to any eligible girls...
The parts of this story that I write are dedicated to my college dorm roommate: Katrina. Because she reads romance and I don’t.
The afternoon sun had heated Solitude Rock so that its dark surface was almost too hot to touch. Two heavily tanned boys were sprawled on it, sucking in great gulps of air through their wide grins.
“You always win,” complained Richard, tossing a little clump of dirt at his best friend.
“That’s cuz my legs are longer than yours. Not my fault.” Jamie defended himself and threw the clump of dirt back. The chunk of soil shattered on Richard’s forehead and little bits got caught in his sweat as he brushed it away with his arm.
“You know,” said Richard with pretend thoughtfulness, “we could get them cut off. Then remove a bit and reattach them.” He rolled onto his back.
“Hey!” Jamie rolled over too, but not before lightly punching his friend in protest.
Richard was not so easily discouraged and went on. “If you keep growing at this rate, you’ll soon be so tall that the girls will get a kink in their necks trying to look up at your oh-so handsome face.”
Girl’s seemed to come up more and more often in their conversation these days, and Jamie almost always found himself uncomfortable with the direction these conversations took. So this time he was determined to start this one out on good footing.
“All the better! Then maybe they’ll stop looking up and pestering me and pay attention to the really good guys—like yourself.”
Richard rolled onto his side facing his friend and lowered his voice, “Are you suggesting I’m short?”
“Nope.” Jamie replied casually and confidently. He didn’t feel like a quarrel.
Neither did Richard, so he lay back, “Didn’t think so.” The two enjoyed the sun in silence for a while. They both began to feel a bit sleepy. That afternoon they had practiced their dueling techniques with their homemade wooden swords and put the finishing touches on their new tree fort high in the biggest oak in the area. The oak was, like all the other trees nearby, part of one of the rows of trees dividing two fields.
Solitude Rock was what Richard had dubbed a boulder rising out of the center of a corn field. Richard had lived in these suburbs a whole year before Jamie moved into one of the newly built mansions on King’s Apple Court. The two had quickly become fast friends and although for years now the boulder had no longer been a place of solitude, it had retained its name.
“But seriously now,” said Richard, continuing the conversation as though it had not lain in silence for a while. He was not actually entirely serious. “All the girls love you. You have to admit it.”
“Meh, they’ll get over it and go back to their girly games.”
“Don’t deny that you think Samantha is cute,” Richard pressed on. “She’s been staring at you with her big dreamy eyes for almost a week now.”
Jamie shrugged, then realized his friend wasn’t looking, so he said “shrug” out loud.
They both laughed.
“I bet you could get a girl without ever speaking to her.”
“Richard, you know I hardly talk to them. I mean, what would I say?”
“No, I mean like get—get.”
“Oh, get—get,” sarcasm and teasing clear in Jamie’s tone. “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about. You’re gonna have to be more specific than that.”
“Like, I dunno, have sex or get married.”
Jamie laughed. “But I don’t want to get married.”
“But you will someday. So, you know what?”
“I dare you to never speak to any eligible girls, until,” he paused a moment, thinking, “until she proclaims her undying love for you and,” another pause, “promises to marry you.” The last bit was spoken in a most definite and dramatic way.
Jamie looked over at his friend to see that Richard was grinning widely at him. So he decided to play along.
“Then I shall simply write her letters. Everyone know that the way to a girl’s heart is through the mail. Poems! I could write poems.”
“No—no letters! That would be cheating.” Spurts of laugher from both boys gathered between sentences.
“Then I’ll learn sign language,” said Jamie.
Jamie paused a moment to think. He looked back up at the blue sky above then triumphantly proclaimed: “I’ll have an interpreter… a friend or parent. And I shall tell them what I want to tell her and she’ll reply back through them!”
“Of course that’s against the rules. All you have is your good looks and silence… until they proclaim their undying love and promise to marry you.”
“Alright, alright. I give up. But, if I have to say nothing to the girls till one of them wants to marry me, than you…” Jamie paused, thinking very hard.
“I’m working on it.”
The moments ticked by while Jamie tried to think up something equally difficult for his friend. Then it came to him. “You have to get a job working in the White House,” he declared.
“The White House? Where did that come from? I’m not even American!”
“The White House. I don’t care what kind of job it is. You could be cleaning toilets for all it matters. But you must, sometime in the next, uh, twenty years, get a job working in the White House if you expect me to speak to no girls.”
“Well, alright. I suppose that would be pretty cool.”
This bit of conversation had gone without much laughter, so now the two began laughing again at the ridiculousness of their ‘dares’ and the silliness of the whole conversation.
The sun was warm and life was good.
Richard’s sudden death in a car accident the next day marked the first real trial in Jamie’s life. And in long hours by himself on Solitude Rock, their last real conversation grew in his mind. And in the strange way the mind works when one grieves, it became to him imperative that he keep the last deal he ever made with his best friend.