“Cut the crap George, and stop making excuses for yourself. You leave first thing in the morning for work. You make it back for dinner maybe once every week, and even then, your eyes are glued to your computer the entire meal. On the weekends I’m the one that takes our daughter to her after school classes. Dance, art, piano. Have you been to ANY of her recitals?”


I take a moment to catch my breath after finishing my rant. 


George shakes his head, “I’m not making excuses Alice. Someone has to put a roof under our heads and food on our plates. My job requires me to be 100 percent committed and that’s simply what I do. I’m sorry I haven’t been able to spend that much time with Cassie, but it simply isn’t possible. I just don’t have that spare time.”


I run my hands through my hair in frustration, “God damn it, George. Then MAKE time. Cancel a few meetings, take a day off. I don’t know! Do something so that you can actually spend some time with your family!” my voice raises an octave as I speak.


George throws his hands in the air. I’ve pissed him off too. “I’d love to, Alice, but like I said, someone needs to make the money, and you don’t have a job.” he points out coldly.


“Yeah, I don’t have a job!” I laugh sardonically, “And you want to know why. It’s because I’ve decided to dedicate my time and energy to raising our daughter!”


George stares at me blankly.


“Honestly, I wouldn’t even consider her your daughter considering how much time you’ve spent with her.” I grab my wallet from the kitchen counter, open it forcefully, and throw the debit card in it on the dining table. “You think I can’t find a job? You think I can’t make money. Well, let me tell you something. I earned all the money in that debit card through the job that I quit five years ago so that I could focus my attention on raising our daughter! I made that sacrifice! And now you're using my unemployment as an excuse for your lack of time!”


The room seems to shake as my voice bounces off the walls. The air feels tense, and it feels as if the world would collapse at any moment, burying us deep under the ground. 

My eyes get watery, and I turn away from him, wrapping my arms around my body in a futile attempt to comfort myself. No, I’m not going to cry. Not in front of him. 


“You promised me.” I whisper, “You promised me this wouldn’t happen. It’s not fair, especially for her.” 


My eyes glance over to the corner of the living room across from us, and I see Cassie, our five year old daughter, crouched in a corner, arms wrapped around her knees, head down, curled in a small ball. George’s gaze follows mine, and his expression softens, the anger draining from his face.


“It’s not fair to her. I know it.” I pause and turn to look at him, “And I thought you would know too.”




“You’re a real asshole, you know that?” my mother screams at my father who sits on the couch lazily. His feet are propped up on the living room table, and he hasn’t taken off his shoes. My mother hates that.


He’s still wearing his clothes from work too. A black slim fit suit with a white dress shirt underneath. He hasn’t bothered to take off his tie, and his clothes still reek of the ghastly smell from the cigarette he probably smoked with a “business partner” before coming home. My father had left his briefcase on the ground, and the papers in it sprawled all over the ground.


“I’ve told you so many times to take your shoes off when you come into the house.” my mother picks at his clothes, “And these clothes! God, the smell! Go take a shower and get yourself cleaned for once! Alice is ten years old. I don’t want her breathing in all those chemicals!” 


My father doesn’t budge. “I’ve had a long day at work, Melissa. Can you give me a break and just let me relax for a second, god damn it!” he yells back at her.


I cover my ears, bracing myself for the screaming that I know will only escalate from here.


My mother’s face turns bright red like the tomatoes she’s cutting up for supper. She unties her cooking apron and throws it on the ground aggressively.


“You’ve had a long day? Are you kidding me?” she laughs in disbelief, “You see this house? What’s different about it from last night?”


My father doesn’t answer. His eyes are glued to his phone, ears closed, shutting out the furious voice of my mother.


“I’ll tell you what’s different. It’s clean, unlike after you and your business friends decided to have a meeting at our house.” she points to the dining table, “Last night you and your “friends” stayed up till 2 in the morning discussing your “business”. You were so loud, I had to put earmuffs over her ears to get her to fall asleep with all the noise. I got maybe three hours of sleep, and then, I had to send our daughter to school. When I came home, I found the dining table a complete mess, and I had to clean after full grown men!”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” my father says simply, eyes still stuck on his phone.


“Your papers, documents, notes, were scattered everywhere, and I, out of the kindness of my heart, decided to help you organize every single one of them. Do I get so much as a thank you? No. ” my mother inhales deeply, “And I haven’t even mentioned the beer bottles you and your “friends” were drinking while you were ''working”.”


Then, my father jumps up from his seat and begins yelling too, “Don’t use that derisive voice with me, Melissa. I get the work done and earn the money. I keep a roof above our heads and food on our plates!” 


I shudder. When my father raises his voice, it means things will only get worse from there. Shaking in fear, I creep out the living room and slip out the back door, tears streaming down my cheeks as my parents continue to vociferate in the house. 


Running down the street, I make my way to George’s house two or three blocks away from mine.


Once I climbed the steps and reached the front porch of his house. I pause to catch my breath and wipe my eyes of the tears that the wind had dried for me.


Then, I brush my hair to the sides of my face, tucking it all behind my ears. Calming myself the best I can, I ring the doorbell and wait.


I don’t have to wait long because the next second I hear the trampling of steps racing down the stairs and a click of a lock from the other side of the door.


It swings open wide, and I come face to face with George. He seems even more out of breath than me, probably from all that running he did to get to the front door. His curly ivory black hair is in tangles and wet from a shower. His large hazel brown eyes stare at me in disbelief. He’s wearing black and white stormtrooper pajamas, and a bright green toothbrush is clenched between his teeth. 


Geroge stares at me for a moment more, then grabs my arm and pulls me into his house, shutting the door tight behind him.


“Alice! What’s wrong? Why are you here?” He props the toothbrush out of his mouth and glances up at the large antique grandfather clock that sits by the stairwell. “It’s bedtime. I didn’t think we’d scheduled a sleepover. Did we?”  


I shake my head, “No. It’s my parents. They’re fighting...again.” my voice is a soft whisper, an echo compared to George. My entire body trembles as I recall my parents' yells ringing in my ears.


George drops his toothbrush on the ground and pulls me into a hug. His fuzzy pajamas are soft on my skin, and he smells like cotton candy flavor shampoo. 


“I’m sorry, Alice. It must be really scary.” he says. I hug him back tight as I hear the footsteps of his parents approaching us.


George must notice too because he releases me, turning towards his mother who has her hands on her hips in an interrogative manner.


“Now, George” she says, “I don’t remember you and Alice scheduling a sleepover for tonight. Did you make plans without telling me, dear?” 


Then, she notices my puffy eyes which are beat red from crying, and her questioning attitude quickly shifts. She kneels down to look at me and runs her hands through my hair. Her eyebrows crinkle together in worry, “Alice? Are you alright sweetheart?” she asks.


“It’s my parents, Mrs.Williams” I whisper to her, “They’re fighting, yelling, screaming.” I cover my ears as if to block out the sounds. 


Mrs.Williams nods and places my hands in her, “Let me give your mother a call and let her know you’re safe. I’m sure she’ll be alright with you staying here tonight. How does that sound?”


“Thank you.” is all I have the strength to say. 


Mrs.Williams checks the time on the grandfather clock, “Well, you two have school tomorrow, so you’d better be going to sleep now. George, why don’t you have Alice sleep on the bottom bunk of your bed. I believe the sheets there are clean.” 


With that said, George and I head up the stairs to his bedroom where he finishes brushing his teeth. After calling my mom, Mrs.Williams comes to us and hands me a clean set of pajamas which have pink unicorns on them and smell like strawberries. “You left these at our house last time you slept over.” she says, “I figured you could use them tonight. I washed them the other day.”


I nod obediently, thank her, and take the clothes into the bathroom to change. Once I’ve slipped them on, I unwrap the plastic from the hotel style toothbrush and brush my teeth.

George knocks on the door, “Alice, are you done? I think we should go to sleep. It’s kinda late.”


“Okay.” I respond, and we both find our beds, him, climbing up the ladder to his, and me, crawling beneath  to the bottom bunk. 


As I pull the soft comfy blanket over me, I hear George murmur something quietly.


“What did you say?” I ask


“I said that I promise you that we will never fight like your parents do. We’ll be friends forever. No fighting. No yelling. None of that.” he says confidently, his voice no longer a vague whisper.


I smile, “Are you sure, George? I don’t even think not fighting is possible.”


“Nope. It is. I promise that when we grow up I will never fight with you, ever.”


“I promise too.” I respond as my eyelids grow heavy, and I drift into sleep. 




“We promised, George. We promised each other.” I repeat quietly. 


George walks towards me and pulls me into a hug just like he had so many years before.


“I’m sorry, Alice.” he whispers, “I didn’t mean to break our promise.” 


I lean into him, resting my head on his shoulder, wrapping my arms around his waist. Tears flood down my cheeks as I feel the warmth of his skin on mine.


Over his shoulder, I see our daughter, Cassie, crawling out of the corner which she had been hiding in. 


“Is it over, Mommy. Are you and Daddy not mad at eachother anymore?” She tugs the hem of my shirt and looks from me, to George, then back to me.


“It’s over, Cassie. Mommy and Daddy are sorry. It won’t happen again.” George answers for me. He scoops her up into his arms and plants a gentle kiss on her cheeks. “And Daddy’s sorry. I promise I’ll spend more time with you sweetheart. It’s my fault.”


I look at him, and he gazes at me. An ineffable message passed between us.


“A promise is a promise. Let’s work together to keep it.” George says as he pulls us all into a tight hug.


July 13, 2021 19:51

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Pahani Wijeratne
16:47 Jul 15, 2021

Hii! Aww, my heart melted when I read this story. It’s so sweet and adorable! The promise they both made match the prompt perfectly! And, I love the vivid imaginary that you used in this story. I love how they both hugged each other when they were young, and slept in bunk beds, gosh, it was so cute 😊 I really really enjoyed reading this story, the message is so genuine! I’m rooting for more ✨🌸 I really don’t have words to explain this incredible, interesting and marvellous story! Lastly, I love how they made up in the end and hugged each oth...


Eve Y
19:59 Jul 15, 2021

Once again, thank you so much for the positive feedback! It means so much to me that you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy writing them! I'd love to read more of your stories as well! Again, thank you!!


Pahani Wijeratne
08:01 Jul 16, 2021

Heyyy! No problem, I really enjoyed reading the story. It brings me great joy to know that you’ll read more of my stories as well; thank you!! 🌸🌺. Once again, of course, that’s truly what a writing community is for; to support, embrace and enjoy each other’s writing. I really appreciate this platform; it’s because of Reedsy that I meet such amazing writers like you! God bless⚡️


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