Promise Ring

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The thing I'll never forget as long as I live is my first love. 

Your first love was the first person to make your heart skip a beat. They were the first to make your cheeks heat up and laugh until your sides ached. They were the first person you kissed, the first person you said those three words that changed everything to. They're the person who you always compare your other loves to, because they were your first. And you always remember your first. 

My first love goes by the name Jackson Hamilton. 

I remember the first time I laid eyes on him. I was six and he seven, and we were both at the grocery store. I loved going out with my mother, so I went with her and helped her place various items in the cart. I was wearing a yellow sundress that day, with my black hair pulled back into a pony tail. Jackson was with his father, and wearing a pair of jeans and a blue polo shirt. One of his teeth was missing- you could see it when he smiled- and his eyes were as blue as could be. I saw him the next week. He moved, and was placed in my class. 

At first, we didn't speak to one another. There were just stolen glances and red cheeks because I caught him staring at me for too long. Until finally, a month later, he spilled his juice box all over my new sweater. 

"Oh gee," he had said as the liquid slowly absorbed into the clothing's material. "I'm sorry," he said, his cheeks heating up. "I wasn't watching where I was going." 

"That's fine," I replied, looking down at my shoes. They were a pair of Crocs that had the fur inside of them. I wore them every day that week to break them in. Jackson eventually spilled paint on them and later, glue, so they were ruined. In the grand scheme of things, I didn't mind much. "It was my fault, really." 

"No, no," he insisted. "My mommy said if I ever hurt a pretty girl, I have to say I'm sorry. Did I hurt you?" 

No boy had ever called me pretty before, and it was in that second that it dawned on me how cute he was. 

After that fateful moment in December, the two of us started talking to each other more. That eventually led up to me going to his house and him to mine, and then school projects that we'd team up on and get an A. 

He was perfect, we were perfect. And one night, when we were in the sixth grade, he kissed me. I didn't know what to do, so I sprinted home without telling him anything. I couldn't bare to face him, let alone talk to him, for two weeks. I soon realized how much I needed him, and we became best friends again. 

It was my freshman year of high school when Jackson first told me, "I love you, Tessa." The thought had never occurred to me before, that he liked me in a romantic way. I had never loved anyone before. I mean, I had a few silly little school girl crushes, but nothing as big and glorious as this. He kissed me again that night, and I didn't end up running away. 

Jackson and I's relationship didn't change as much as I thought it would. We still hung out the same amount of time, except he'd kiss me and we'd hold hands, and I found myself smiling more often. 

It lasted all throughout the summer. But when we got back to school in August, Jackson had changed. He was distant, and would blow off any plans we had made together. At first, I didn't think anything of it. I mean, I didn't want to seem like that girlfriend who was really possessive over their boyfriend, but I was still really concerned. He wasn't the same guy I had grown up with. 

And a month later, I had walked in on him, shirtless, with another girl. They were on his bed, and their lips were locked. I clutched my chest, and it felt like my heart was about to explode. No words could form out of my mouth, and it felt like a large boulder was sitting on top of my lungs. It took them at least a minute to notice that I was there. All Jackson said was, "Hey, Tessa." That was enough for me to go on a rampage. 

I stormed out of the house, tears clouding my vision. I didn't know what I was doing, where I was going, but I didn't give a damn. I wanted to make him pay. So I trashed his car. I grabbed a baseball bat and shattered the windows, I tore up the leather seats. I slashed the tires, I dented the sides. I even tore out the radio, and emptied out the glove box, tearing up papers and smashing things. I stopped only when my knuckles were painted in thick red blood, and I couldn't move my arms anymore. 

Jackson never called me again. 

I tried to get over him, I really did. But like I said before, you never forget your first love. No matter how many guys I kissed, no matter how many other dates I went on, I could never get Jackson's face out of my mind. 

The way his blue eyes turned even a lighter shade of blue when he laughed, how white his teeth were. How when he smiled, every head in the room turned to look at him. The way his hands felt on my skin, sending shivers up my spine. The way his lips felt, the way he tasted. How soft they were, and the way they moved in sync with mine. I never felt that way with any other person. 

I never felt so free, so elated in my entire life. And in the long run, he didn't even care about me. Not like I thought he did. I was just another girl, another pair of lips. I wans't anything special to him. I was just Tessa Bradley. Ordinary, naive, and utterly stupid. 

My first relationship lasted a bit more than a year, but I still loved him more than anything else. 

I sit at my kitchen table in my apartment. It's been six years since Jackson and I broke up. A white envelope sits before me, and mocks me with it's fancy writing. Tessa Bradley. I open it hesitantly, and scowl when I see the contents. 

You are here by invited to the holy matrimony of Jackson Hamilton and Lexi Baker. Regrets only. 

I can't breathe, and my head spins like a Tilt-A-Whirl. "No," I choke out. "No!"

I put my hand up to my head, my breaths heavy and dragged out. My Jackson isn't my Jackson anymore. He belongs to some other girl, that Lexi. I cringe. 

I can't help but rub my ring finger. The silver band that I always wear is cool, and it brings a fresh set of tears to my eyes. It is a promise ring, the promise ring. The one Jackson had slipped on my finger when we were kids. 

"I promise," he had said, looking me dead in the eye. "I promise you, Tessa, that I will always love you. I will never leave you, and never let anything hurt you." 

Oh, the irony. Because he ended up hurting me, and it felt like a stab in the heart. 

"I hate you," I say to the invitation and all of it's blue swirls. "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you." I hate it, I loathe it, I despise it.  I hate Jackson Hamilton, but yet at the same time, I'm hopelessly in love with him. 

The phone rings, taking me out of my thoughts. "Hello?" I say into the receiver. 

"Tessa?" 

I think I'm going to hurl. "Jackson?" 

"Tessa, thank goodness. Listen to me, I need you to open your front door." 

"My front-" He cuts me off. "Yeah just open it." I reluctantly put the phone down and make my way to the front of my apartment. I take a deep breath before I swing the piece of wood open. Laying on the floor is a note, folded neatly. 

Tessa, 

I'm sorry. I really am. I believe I promised you something, that I'd never hurt you. But I did, and I hurt you pretty bad. And now, you must loathe me because I'm engaged. But you want to know something that I figured out? That you can never forget about your first love, no matter how hard you try. Every day I spend with Lexi, I end up comparing her to you. You, with your small stature and toothy grin. I love you, forever and always. You were my first love, always will be. 

With love, Jackson.  

I cannot help but smile.  

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