A Promise Kept, Never Forgotten

by DJSkywalker

First published

I sit with this man on his deathbed, a man who has told me tale after tale over the years. I heard his story and believed. Why? Because, to friend and love is human.

I've known this man for years, listening to his fantastical tales of wonder and love. I was the first to believe that they were true. And it all started with a simple question: "Have you ever made a promise to someone, a promise so special that no matter what, you had to fulfill it?" As I sit here for his final moments, I look back on all that he told me, all of it for a promise kept, yet never was it forgotten.

Created for GeodesicDragon, for all of his great works.

The Only Chapter

View Online

A gorgeous summer day; the birds are chirping, the critters are out and about, and you can hear the laughter of children as they race down the road on their bikes. This all betrayed the saddening sight before my eyes. I sit here by his side, a man aged by time and experience, a man that I had spent years with. It was finally his time, time for him to move on to another adventure.

I almost smile at that thought. Adventure, oh this man has been on adventures alright. Adventures that none other than myself have heard, let alone believed. Tales beyond imagination, ones that have been for my ears only.

I still remember the first day that I met this old man. It seems like so long ago, though I suppose a man like this can make a friendship feel as such. Five years ago, that was my first day here, a new assistant for a particularly wary individual. That’s what I am, the personal assistant for a man who no longer could do all that he could. A nurse, some would call me, but I saw it as more than that. Though the elderly can no longer be completely independent, at least they are not alone in their late years.

That’s what I thought, at least, before meeting this man. It was my first day on the job, and my superior assigned me to their toughest customer, an old man who scared off any assistant they sent him. Did they tell me this? No, my supervisor simply brought me to his small ranch home at the edge of a suburb. He wished me good luck as he dropped me off, and sped off down the road. Curious, I thought, but I paid it no mind at the time. I walked straight to the front door and knocked once, twice, even three times. After a moment, the door creaked open to reveal a man who was aged quite well, all things considered. I introduced myself as his new assistant and he grunted rudely in return, begrudgingly allowing me into his home.

The place was quite something to behold. Though it appeared clean, it was quite the mess actually. I could see that most of the house was coated in dust and the floors could certainly have used some heavy vacuuming. He never spoke a word, simply trudging back into his solitary bedroom, leaving me to my thoughts for the day. I never thought I would meet someone so… distant. For most of my day, I cleaned his house, but never once did I see him come out of his sanctuary. With all the chores finally complete, I went to his room to bid him farewell. I entered in through the partially closed door to a strange sight. There he lay, on a bed that was right next to his bedroom window, staring out at the wondrous summer day.

I found it a peculiar sight, seeing him there so peaceful, a small smile on his face as he stared off into the distance. I was about to leave without saying a word, but then he spoke to me for the first time. He asked me if I had ever made a promise to someone, a promise so special that no matter what, you had to fulfill it. I was shocked to say the least. His first words to me were so deep that I wasn’t sure how to respond, but I eventually did, being honest that I never made a promise so special.

He nodded slowly, still gazing out the window. He told me that he had made such a promise, so very long ago to someone that was more than special to him. My curiosity was peaked by his words, so I asked him what the promise was. He gave a small laugh and turned my way. With a smile on his face, he said that it was a secret between the two of them. I groaned in disappointment, only furthering the old man’s personal enjoyment. But I wasn’t ready to give up. I asked him for more, hoping to break him from his shell. I was a cocky s.o.b. back then. He motioned me to come closer and I headed the call. He asked me to come even closer, to which I complied. He asked me to lean closer to him so he wouldn’t strain his voice and I obeyed. I leaned in my ear close to his face, and then he beaned me in the back of the head with his cane.

I groaned in pain, holding the back of my head, whilst he simply smiled, hefting the cane into his open palm. He said not to be so cocky, an old man must have his secrets after all. I gave him a harsh look and proceeded away, but he stopped me by calling out. He asked if I really wanted to hear the story. I stopped of course, wondering if I truly did. I was a fledgling writer so any material would be great, this job was to pay for me to start my very first book, that was yet to be written. I replied that I would be interested and he had me pull up a seat near his bed.

As I took my seat, he looked at me sternly and warned me of his tale. He said that the things I would hear may sound like fantasy, I may not even believe him at all, but he would swear that every word was true. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this statement, but he took my silence as acceptance and began to tell me a tale that was for my ears alone.

It started off ordinarily enough, a hard working man, simply trying to get by in the city. A loner by any other name, not necessarily by choice. One with a traumatic past of anger that threatened both his present and his future. A long day of work, leading to a horrid encounter late at night with a band of criminals. He said that this was where things would go beyond the imagination of man as he describes his own death by those criminals’ hands. He goes into the excruciating pain of being shot in the back, falling farther than he should have. He said that he mysteriously appeared in a forest of wonder, one where dangerous predators from legends long lost lurked beyond the shadows and where the most potent of plants called home. He spoke of this forest, this Everfree, as one where no creature should venture alone and unprepared.

I, of course, questioned such a thing as mysteriously waking up in a forest. He claimed it was not the criminals who brought him to that forest to die, for the watch on his wrist had said he was only out for a few minutes.But, what else could have done such a thing. I was going to voice my question, but decided to hear the rest of this man’s tale. As his story unfolded, I was continually shocked. He spoke of creatures the likes of which man could only dream of. Of minotaurs, griffins, unicorns, and pegasi, all of which were sapient! He spoke very highly of the equines that had made a home of the land he found himself in. Especially of six young mares that had saved him from death. Each of them had personalities all their own, ranging from a hardworking farm girl, to a fashionista, and even an over-studious bookworm. He said that the pegasi flew through the skies and formed the clouds and manipulated the weather to fit their needs and the unicorns that could use magic! Even the ordinary ponies had powers to make the land fertile and grow crops that were better than any a human could produce.

It was so unbelievable! Yet, he swore with his life that every word was true. I… I just didn’t know how to believe all that he was telling me. He basically told me that magic and other worlds existed. I really didn’t know how to take it all in, but then he asked me the most important question of all. The man asked, with a tiny glimmer of hope in his eyes, if I believed him. That was the question wasn’t it. Did I believe him? Could I believe him? He spoke of pure fantasy, but the way he spoke indicated the truth behind the words. That was it then. I looked back at his eyes and said that I believed every word. The man smiled an honest smile, somehow knowing that I spoke the truth.

I looked to the clock and noticed that it was far past the time I should have left. As I was about to walk out, the man called back to me. He said to come back tomorrow if I wanted to hear more. I turned back to him with a smile and nodded, exiting the house with that smile still on my face.

The next day, my superiors were all surprised to see that the man had asked that I be his full-time assistant, meaning he would be the only one I would assist. I didn’t mind, though it came as quite a shock to the others. I asked them why and they told me that this man had sent away each and every assistant they had ever sent over there after their very first day. This was something completely unexpected, but I did feel a twinge of pride that the man wanted me back. I made sure to get there bright and early, wanting to hear more stories as soon as possible. The man would welcome me into his home and I would get right to work, telling his tales as the day progressed.

This routine continued on day after day, month after month, and year after year. I learned much from that man. I had learned that his name was Chris, but he told me never to call him that. When I asked why he told me that Chris may have been the name he was birthed with, but that it was not his name. I asked him what his name was, but he paused for several moments. He told me that he couldn’t remember. He recalled that his name was the one he gave to the equines on that world, but it had been many years since anyone had called him that name. I chose to simply call him ‘sir’ to which he agreed that it would be best.

I looked forward to our visits everyday, always eager to hear of another of his fantastical adventures. He spoke of this wonderful town that he had moved into, the kind hearted rulers who allowed him into their land, but there was one thing he spoke most of. It was that purple unicorn. This ‘mare’ was the one he spoke of most. It took many stories for me to finally discover why he spoke so highly of this mare: he loved her. It was shocking, to say the least. A man had fallen in love with a pony. Something a younger me would have found revolting, yet after hearing of these stories, I was happy for him.

Many years passed as he continued his tale, but he grew older and older each year, as if telling his story was the only thing keeping him going. I heard many adventures from him. Some involving strange insects known as parasprites, an incident with a plant called poison joke, and many more strange and wonderful things.

I don’t know why I believed his every word. Maybe it was the way he spoke, never wavering, always reciting everything from memory. They were more than stories, I was sure of it! I learned many things from the sir, such things as the glory of love, the dealings between friends, and many more. But, his tale did not have a happy end. After hearing it many times, I can remember each word of his finale. Another human had come to this land, but came as a threat instead of a friend. The sir and his friends, the six mares who were considered the land’s top heroes, went to confront this man, but things went wrong and the sir was killed in the ensuing fight.

I looked at him in shock that he had died not once, but twice. He awoke from this death as well, but not in the land he had called home for many, many months. No, he awoke in a hospital that claimed he had been in a coma for only a tenth of the time. He said that he cried there and then. He said that he had plans to marry that wonderful mare he had fallen for, to be with her forever, only for it have all been a dream.

I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. That everything he had experienced had been nothing, but a dream was more than I could take. But he continued his story still, a small smile forming on his lips. He said that his adventures were no dream. No, for he had proof. He leaned over and opened up his top nightstand drawer. He pulled out a golden necklace with a magenta six-pointed star charm. He said that this was his engagement gift for his mare, the gift that he had bought in that other world. I stared at in awe while he continued to say that it was in a mix bag of his belongings when they released him from the hospital. He looked at me with a smile and asked me again, did I believe him. There was no hesitation, I nodded, knowing deep in my heart that his words were true. He said that was good, that it was very good and drifted off into sleep, ending our time for that day.

That was three years ago that I heard the conclusion to the story, but not the last time I heard it. No, I had practically begged him to repeat his story to me time after time, receiving each word with delight. But as time went on, so did the sir’s life. His hourglass was running out of time, and today I knew he would breathe his last breaths. So, here I sit by his side, his only companion in his final moments.

“Boy,” he wheezes to me. He never cared for my name, always calling me boy. I never minded. “My time is coming, I can feel it in my bones.” He breaks into a coughing fit, to which I calm him down. “I want you to know something. That day we first met, do you remember the first words I spoke to you?”

I nod, those words still fresh in my mind to this day. “Yes, you asked me if someone special had ever asked me to promise something, a promise so special that you had to follow it, no matter what.”

He nods slowly. “Do you know what promise it was that I made and to who?”

“I can guess that the promise was made to your lover, but I cannot guess what it was.”

“You are correct, it was to her. She had asked me to promise her something. That should I ever return to my world, that I would make friends.” I blink, truly not expecting that to be the promise.But the sir was not finished. “I had given up on friendship during that time, my boy. My temper had driven everyone away, and I felt so alone. She changed that in me. She and the others made me want to have that feeling always. I never forgot that promise I made, and I went on to make several lifelong friends. I cherished each of them, but it was I who outlived each of them. I truly thought that I would go out in my final years on my own.”

He turns to me, a single tear in his eyes. “Then you came along my boy. There were so many before you, none of whom would give this old man the time of day. But you, you had something special about you. You have the faith, you were willing to believe me where others would simply scoff. I thank you for your years of service, my boy. I am truly glad that I can leave with a friend by my side. Thank you.”

The sir lays his head back down, his breathing becoming slower and slower. Until it finally stops, and the man was gone. I couldn’t help, but have tears fall from my eyes as my friend leaves this world, taking his stories and adventures with him.

There is a bright flash in the room, causing me to wince from the brightness. When I look again, I am amazed at the sight before me. It was tall and regal, its alabaster coat shining, and its multi-hued hair billowing in a non-existant breeze. It speaks with a voice that is both loving and regal, a voice of a female.

“Thank you, kind sir. For making my friend’s final moments much more meaningful.” She bows to me by lowering her horse-like head. In fact, all of her is equine. It clicked, this was one of the rulers of that magical land. I didn’t know what to say, so she continued. “I have been watching my old friend from afar, looking for a way to return him to his lover and my dearest student. While several decades have passed here, less than one has passed in our world. But, thanks to you, my friend died with a smile on his face. For that I wish to thank you. Ask anything of me and, if it within my power, I shall grant it.”

I could not believe what I am hearing, let alone what I am seeing. It is far too surreal. But her last words rang through my mind quite well. Anything I asked? I could have my greatest of wishes made true? As I think this over, my eyes wander over to the lifeless body of my dead friend. Something clicks in me and I know what I need to ask of this ruler.

“My wish is for my friend. If you can, could you take him back to your world? Perhaps you could give him the life he should have had. He died both times to leave and return to this world, should it not be possible that you can do the same now?”

The winged and horned equine in front of me was surprised at first, but her muzzle soon turns to a happy smile. “Are you sure that this what you wish?”

I nod with determination. “Yes, this man brought me many years of happiness. As such, I would like to repay him in kind. If you can, please do so.”

“It is within my power. I would have done so prior, but it appears that it is impossible to bring over one who is living. Magic works in the strangest of ways, it appears. I thank you once again, young man, for giving up your happiness for my friend.” The body of the man disappears before my eyes and I turn back to the royal pony. “I will take my leave of you then, take care young man.”

“Wait!” I call out to her, making her stop for a moment. “Before you go, there is one thing that I wish to ask of you. Over the years, the good sir lost the memory of his name. As his friend, you surely know what it is. Tell me, please, what was the true name of my friend?”

The equine smiles warmly at me once again. “His name is Geo.” With that and a flash, she was gone, leaving me alone in this house and to my thoughts.

A few weeks have passed since then and many wonderful things have happened. To my shock, the man, known as Geo, had willed to me all of his possessions. He had no children, leaving himself only for his one true love, that purple unicorn mare. He left me with several thousand euros that had accumulated in savings over the years as well as the very house that I had kept him company in. I now had the funds that I needed to start my writing career, but there was one problem that had dug its way into my mind: I had no idea on what to write.

Then as if struck by inspiration, I thought back to Geo. His life was full of adventure and wonder. That’s what I could write about! I could bring Geo’s story to the masses and give my friend a proper tribute. I would make his wish come true through the written word So I got to work on what would be the first draft of my greatest story ever. And it started with a little thought like this:

A life that never knew the joys of friendship and love, one that was taken far too soon. His tale is one of fantastical wonder, one that brings him great joy and love in a form he never believed possible. But this is not for him alone, no, for what happens to this man is possible for all. What he experiences is something that could for any other. Perhaps not as fantastical or adventurous, but wonderful nonetheless. After all, to friend and love is human.