Promises of Forever

Analisa stared out of the window as the bus slowly ascended the winding
road. The colorful splases of fall were all but invisible to her as other
images held her mind in their powerful grip. Her parents had taken her to
school that morning on their way to work via a different route, but Analisa knew
she'd have to ride the bus home since they would not be able to pick her up as
well. She had tried to block that fact out of her mind and just concentrate on
getting through the first day of school. Today only confirmed what she had
known all along; it would be better to go to a new high school than to remain at
Bailey and endure the pitying looks and curious stares she had received during
the day. At least no one at another school would know about the accident. It
was hard enough reliving it every single day on her own; she didn't need to face
the constant reminders in her classmates' eyes and even in the school itself.

From the moment she entered Baily High School's double doors that
morning, the torment became unbearable. There were memories everywhere she
turned. Two conspiciously empty seats on the left side of the lobby where David
and Tony had waited on she and Karen to arrive at school were more than she
could handle. Analisa would have stopped in her tracks, frozen by that sight,
if there had not been hundreds of students streaming through the doors. She
found herself being pushed along in a direction, she really didn't want to go:
the hall way leading to her locker. Analisa knew she would have to do this at
some time during the day; there was no avoiding it, but why did it have to be so
soon? As she slowly walked down the corridor with its black and white tiled
floor, she barely noticed the hush that fell in her wake. She neared the trophy
cabinet and paused briefly. David's locker was the tenth one down from the
case. Analisa continued her trek down the hall. Each step getting increasingly
more difficult to take.

One...two...three.... She felt her lungs constrict like a vise was
slowly squeezing the air from her body. Four...Five.... Her mouth was
suddenly dry. She knew her heart was beating
erractically, extremely fast one second and barely beating the next. Nine...
Analisa went numb all over. Ten....David's locker. She turned to look at the
bright red door. Unconsciously, her hand raised to touch the metal surface.
Suddenly, she became acutely aware of the silence that enveloped her. Analisa
looked around her and noticed that nearly half of the student body was staring
at her. She returned her attention to the locker for a brief moment before
frantically racing into the nearby restroom. The door had barely closed behind
her when Analisa slid down the wall in tears.

This was not the first time she had broken down, but it was usually in
private. Most of her summer had been spent recuperating in the hospital. The
few times she had ventured outside after the accident were torture. She went
into hysterics in the hospital solarium when she saw a car drive by that
resembled the one Tony had driven. The doctor had ordered her to be sedated and
had scheduled a couple of counseling sessions with one of the staff
psychologists. Throughout it all, she kept insisiting she was fine and by all
outward appearances she appeared to be just that, on the inside she was locked
in her own mental nightmare.
Suddenly, the passing scenery jerked Analisa's attention from her
thoughts. The bus was nearing the exact spot of the accident. She struggled
against the urge to scream and desparately wanted to curl up in a ball, but the
bus was too crowded. She had went to her "spot" instinctively, not even
realizing she was there until everyone had gotten on board. Analisa tried to
tear her eyes away from the window, but she could not. The tire marks had long
since faded; the twisted, broken guardrail had been replaced, but the screams
still lingered. Analisa found herself, once again, returning to that night.
Analisa and David sat in the back seat of Tony's car as they drove home
from a friend's end of school party. Karen, her best friend, and Tony were
arguing in the front. It started over a girl that Tony had once dated making an
appearance at the party and had escalated from a small tiff into a full blown
confrontation. Analisa tried to block out as much of the bickering as possible.
As far as she was concerned, she had had a great time at the party. Even the
slight headache she was starting to get could not dampen her spirit. She sighed
and rested her head on David's shoulder. As usual, he put his arm around her
shoulders and pulled her close. Analisa smiled in the darkness, closed her
eyes, and drifted off to sleep. She had no idea how long she napped. Her only
memory was hearing Karen scream "Look out!" mere seconds before the car swerved
to miss something and plunged down the steep embankment. Analisa knew the car
had rolled several times before it came to a stop at the base of a tree. She
had been thrown around the car almost like a rag doll and somehow ended up
wedged in the floor between the seats with David laying on top of her. She
remembered trying to open her eyes, but an excruciating pain made everything go
black. Her next memories were sound fragments: sirens blaring, metal being
torn apart, glass crunching underfoot and an occaisonal voice. "Four of
them..." "Almost got her..." "This one's critical..." "Need the basket..."
"Mercy's standing by."

Analisa was abruptly brought back to the present by the sound of her own
voice. She had not been aware that she had even spoken. She looked around the
bus the silent bus for someone, anyone who could give her an explanation. As
her gaze met each of her classmates, they averted their eyes. Tears threatened
to fall and Analisa wondered for the thousandth time why no one spoke to her.
Everyone was aware of her presence, but no one gave any acknowledgement. She
knew the accident had been quite a shock to everyone. But, what about me? she
thought. It happened to me. I was there. As the bus rolled past the spot of
her torment, Analisa regained some control over her emotions. Feeling very
much alone in the world, she leaned her head against the window and tried
not to cry.
The bus soon reached her stop. Analisa walked the short distance to her
house and for the first time all day, felt a sense of relief. She had a couple
of hours yet before her parents came home from work. Undoubtedly, someone would
have told them about what happened. Analisa quickly ran upstairs to her
bedroom; it was the only place she was at ease. Momentos of dates with David
were still displayed around the room. Movie stubs, snap shots, and a poem that
he had written adorned the bulletin board above her bed. Their prom portrait
remained on the nightstand. It was the last picture that was taken of the two
of them together. The photos had arrived about two weeks before that night.
Analisa threw her books on the bed and walked to the dresser. Picking up the
jewelry box, she retrieved the only piece in it: David's class ring. Her mother
had placed the ring there for safe keeping after the hospital staff removed her
jewelry. It was all that she had left of him. It had only been worn one time
since then and that was when she attended David's funeral service.
The doctors' had been vehemently opposed to letting her out of the
hospital even for the couple of hours that she would have been gone. Analisa
was just as determined if not more so to be there with David one last time.
Only two weeks had passed since the accident and her injuries, while not fatal,
were extensive. Most of her injuries had been internal, but she did have a
concussion, several cracked ribs, as well as cuts and bruises all over. Her
doctors' argued that she was too weak to even sit in a wheelchair which was her
suggestion to the dilemma. In the end, it was her tearful pleas that had
swayed the phyiscian into discharging her for the services. David's family had
arranged for her to see him privately for a few minutes.
Analisa's father pushed the wheelchair to right up to the side of the
coffin. He gave her a quick kiss on the top of her head before leaving the
chapel. Her gaze moved around the room, seeing the hundreds of flower baskets
that lined the walls. Most of them, she guessed were from the students of
Bailey High School. David had been involved in a lot of extra-curricular
activities: varsity football and basketball, student council vice-president, and
an honor student. On either side of the chapel, there were big displays of his
jerseys with various pictures and awards. Analisa purposely avoided looking
directly in front of her. She just could not accept the fact that all of this
was really happening. She kept praying it was some kind of horrible nightmare
and it would go away as soon as she woke up, but she knew she was not sleeping
and the nightmare was real.
Unable to avoid the inevitable, Analisa finally turned her gaze to the
pale blue coffin. From her seat, she could barely see over the rim. She wanted
to see him -- needed to see him -- to what, she wondered. She couldn't,
wouldn't say goodbye. It was too soon. She was not ready to do that yet.
Gathering what little strength she had inside her, Analisa put her hands on the
wheelchair arm rests and pushed herself up until she was standing. Her legs
felt like they were limp pieces of cooked speghetti and they threatened to give
out from under her at any second, but she was upright. Tears started to fall as
she stared into the coffin. Analisa unclenched her right hand which she had
held in a tight fist from the moment she left the hospital. Her mother had
given her David's class ring as they drove to the funeral home. It was only
fitting that she return it to him in the same manner he gave it to her, with
love and gentleness. She stared at the gold ring with its bright red stone and
engraved insignias. I can't...I just can't. This isn't right. It shouldn't be
this way. We should have gone together. It should have been all of us or none
of us. Analisa tore her eyes away from the ring and forced herself to finally
look at David's face. It was that one small act that exhausted what little
strength she had somehow found. She felt a soothing blackness wash around her
and this time did not fight it. In seconds, Analisa crumpled to the floor, the
ring still in her hand.
Coming back to reality, she unfastened the chain that had been her first
gift from David and slipped it through the ring. She slipped the ring turned
pendent under her shirt so that it was close to her heart and threw herself onto
the bed. She picked up the framed prom picture and held it tightly, unable to
stop the tears. It isn't fair. It just isn't fair, she thought over and over.
Analisa glanced at the alarm clock. It was four-thirty; David would be calling
soon; then she remembered she would never again hear his laughing voice on the
other end of the telephone line. Unable to endure the desolation any longer,
she replaced the photo, blindly rushed down the stairs and out the front door.
She just walked, unaware of neither the direction nor the destination.
When she finally stopped, Analisa had no idea how long she had been
walking or even where she was; her mind had been a complete blank throughout the
journey. She looked around and realized she was standing in the middle of
Serenity Gardens Cemetery. Numbly, Analisa glanced down at the marker and
realized she was at David's gravesite. How could she have known where to find
him? She had lost consciousness before the funeral even started. She sat down
beside the grave. Drawing her knees to her, she rested her head on them. Tears
fell unchecked as great sobs escaped. Analisa cried, not only for David, but
for Karen and Tony as well. Karen had been her best friend since kindergarten
and of course she had gotten to know Tony because of Karen.
It had been Karen's mother who broke the news to her weeks after the
accident. Once Analisa regained consciousness, her first thoughts were of David
and her friends. She kept asking where they were and if they were all right,
but her questions either went unanswered or she was given vague replies.
Finally, Mrs. Hartford broke down and gently explained to Analisa that both her
daughter and Tony had been killed instantly. Their funerals took place during
the days that Analisa had been in a coma. Mrs. Hartford also told her that
while David had survived, he was in critical condition. Everyone surmised that
somehow during the crash, he had shielded Analisa from further injury with his
body. Suddenly, while the two of them were talking, there was a great commotion
in the hospital corridor. Buzzers and bells were ringing and the hospital staff
was rushing about with a contained frenzy. No. Not David. Not now. Not
before I've had a chance to see him. Mrs. Hartford left to see what was
happening, but returned a few minutes later to confirm Analisa's worst fears.
David had went into cardiac arrest and they were not able to revive him. She
was the only one left.
A cool breeze awakened Analisa from her reverie. The sun was beginning
to set and the sky was painted in varying hues of reds, purples and pinks.
Sunset had been David's favorite time of the day. Many times the two of them
hiked to the top of the hill that overlooked the town and watched the sky change
from day to night. Analisa traced his name engraved on the marker with her
finger. Why did you have to leave me? You promised you wouldn't, but you did.
Aren't promises supposed to be forever? We never even got to say good bye and
that's what hurts most. She glanced up just in time to see the sun disappear
behind the moutains. It was twilight time, that brief moment between light and
dark. What the sun leaves behind, the moon will finish. That had been David's
quote. An eternal circle, that can never be broken. The meaning of life
written in the sky.
"David, forgive me. I should have remembered." As she spoke, Analisa
removed the necklace from her neck and tied it to the vase so that the ring
would show underneath the flowers. "You didn't really leave me. You will
always be with me, in the setting of the sun and the rising of the moon.
Good-bye David. I won't forget again. I promise.""