You promised

Pictures+of+me+while+I+was+making+the+promises+I+couln%E2%80%99t+keep

Shelly Batterbee

Pictures of me while I was making the promises I couln’t keep

You promised.

I know.

I promised you I would never change.

I promised you “hang out” would never be allowed. “Hanging out” is for old, grown-up people.

You promised.

I promised you I would always love school.

But the recesses turned to five-minute passing periods, and the spelling tests turned into PSATs. The homework lasted more than an hour, and the system is cheating us of vitamin D.

I promised you that I wouldn’t turn into my siblings—doing nothing besides school work. But the system doesn’t let me.

I tried, though. I pretended school was something I still loved through seventh grade and halfway into eighth grade. I ignored the tests and the minuscule stress that was beginning to load up. I ignored the unyielding structure the day ultimately had. I ignored the slow walkers that crowded the halls and the homework every night. I even ignored the sprained ankle that kept me from dancing.

I tried for you.

I told people “I still love school, and that will never change” even though, in the back of my mind, it already had. I was proving everyone who said that would change wrong. I wanted to love school.

You promised.

I guess I’m a boring old teenager now.”

I promised you I would never change my favorite color. It would always be pink.

But then my cousin told me I could change it.

We thought changing my favorite color was against some unspoken law. I thought changing my favorite color would be some grown-up, rebel thing to do. But my cousin three years younger than me told me the evolution of her favorite colors, and I had an epiphany.

Pink to purple to blue to the madness of greens and blues that run through my mind.

I promised you it would be pink, but trying to keep it there made me start to hate it.

You promised.

I promised you I’d never stop playing. I wish I hadn’t, and sometimes I still do. But it gets hard when you run out of time.

You promised.

I promised you I’d never let the thoughts of others push through. I promised that the world wouldn’t get to me.

But I couldn’t keep it.

Their thoughts, though usually imaginary, stumble around in my brain. They tell me what to do and what not to do. They dictate my life, and I promised you that wouldn’t happen.

I guess I’m a boring old teenager now.

You promised.

I know.

I promised so many things—many of which have slipped my mind.

I promised you I’d stay little forever.

But years interrupt. Life interrupts. School interrupts. Society finds a way of prying in.

I promised, and I failed.

I am sorry.