“Hi Sam. Would you like to go on a quest with me?” I rehearsed different versions of this in my head.
“Would you like to take a fun trip?”
“That’s too dumb.” I thought to myself.
“Would you like to meet Abe?”
“Why would she want to meet Abe? The only thing I really know about him is that he’s tall and. Come to think of it, that’s all I really know about him.”
My mind and I were in a back and forth.
Finally, I just scribbled the following words on my palm:
“Hi Sam. Will you come with me on a quest? It will be really fun. I would really be happy if you came along.”
I was nervous.
I don’t know why. Maybe I was worried she would say no.
With fists clenched I walked up to her front door. I took a deep breath and rang her door bell.
Her mom opened the door. She was wearing an apron. She was always wearing an apron and a net thing on her head, the kind bee keeper’s wear. She was a bee keeper and she made honey.
Sam’s family made honey, and the were known for the best honey in town, some said the world. I wouldn’t have known. I didn’t like honey. I still don’t particularly like it other than it reminding me of Sam now.
I liked Sam though. I liked her a lot.
“Hi David. What are you doing here so early? Sam’s not up yet.” her mom said as she greeted me.
“I’m up! I’m up!” I could hear Sam calling along with the sound of her footsteps running the down the stairs.
“I’m up.”, Sam said breathlessly as she appeared at the front door.
“Someone’s excited.”, Sam’s mom winked at her as she said this. “I’m going back to my bees. You two don’t get into any trouble.” and she walked back inside.
“Hi.” Sam smiled at me from the other side of the door frame.
She had an incredibly happy smile.
“Hi.” I answered, for a moment forgetting why I was there, my clenched fist now a sponge of sweat.
“Well?” Sam asked. “Why are you here?”
“Well, I… I…” I started poorly”
I never really stammered in front of her before but things had been changing between us. I didn’t know it then but it was the start of love. But we were kids. Who can blame us for not having a clue? Plus the fact that I was inviting her to “who knows where”. Who invites someone to nowhere? I mean, to somewhere but somewhere I don’t know.
I remembered that my spiel written on my palm. I opened my fist to find a black smear of ink. My sweaty palms had rendered the ink unreadable other than the words, “Will you”.
“Will you… Will you…” I was trying to remember.
“Of course I will, David. Of course I will.”
“You don’t even know what I was going to ask you.” I had forgotten it myself.
“You’re inviting me on a trip.”
“How’d you know?” I was shocked.
“I had a dream last night. I dreamed that you came over and invited me on a trip. You showed me a heart-shaped map that had our initials all over the place.”
“I don’t have a map. I don’t even know where we’re going.”
“Well wherever it is, I’m going with you. I’m ready. I already packed.”
“You have?” Sam always was full of pleasant surprises. Well, many unpleasant ones that I never understood, but overall her surprises were amazing.
“Yes. Right here.” and she lifted up her backpack with bottles of honey tied to the sides.
“Abe said not to bring a lot of stuff.” I told her.
“Who is Abe?” she asked.
“Abe’s our guide to who knows where.”
“Oh ok. I’m glad we have a guide because you just said we don’t have a map. We can’t go without one of those. We’ll only get lost. Remember that time we got lost in the forest out back? I thought we were going to die!”
“I liked it that we got lost.” I said.
“Now it’s a nice story. But not while we were soaked. You were laughing and laughing and I was getting really mad because you weren’t taking our safety seriously.”
“I know that forest. I knew we were safe.”
“You always say you know things, always acting so calm and composed.”
“I do. You know that I know things.”
“You don’t know everything. No one does. So shall we go?”
Aren’t you going to tell your mom?”
“I wrote her a letter telling her not to worry, I’m with you. She trusts you.”
“Yikes.” for the first time I felt a unique kind of pressure, the kind that comes on us only when we become responsible for someone else’s life.
“Do you really want to bring all of that? It will get heavy carrying all of that baggage.” I asked her hoping she would remove a few things.
“David, you really don’t know girls. I need these things. They’re a part of me. I spent all night packing! And of course I’m bringing my honey. That’s what I’m known for. I know you don’t like honey but other people we meet may like it. I’m quite sure they will. My mom always told me that our honey would make us famous.”
“Why are you always talking about becoming famous?” I asked her. She always was. As if becoming famous meant she was important. I really thought she was important already.
“David, don’t act so young. It’s not about being famous. It’s about being respected by others. Don’t you want to be respected?”
“I do. But I don’t need everyone to respect me. What do they really know about me? It would matter if, let’s say, you respected me. But to want the respect of someone I don’t really know, who doesn’t really know me, and whose opinion doesn’t really affect my life, I don’t see why anyone needs that at all.”
“Well I want to be respected by as many people as possible. My honey will be respected.”
“What happens if you ever run out of honey? What will people respect about you?”
“I’ll make more. Besides, I’m more than my honey. I can show the world other things.”
“You don’t have to show anyone anything Sam. You’re really beautiful. I think you’re great. That’s why I wanted to invite you.”
That paused our conversation. I had never said anything that complimentary to her before. I was always either teasing or giving her information.”
Sam blushed. “Thank you. You’re very sweet. Thank you for being the first member of my fan club.”
I didn’t know why but that last sentence hurt me and made me wonder at the same time. Fan club? What fan club? I wasn’t her fan. I was her friend, her best friend. And member? Was she expecting more members? Why does she need a fan club at all?”
“Sam.” I called her name. “For what it’s worth, I respect you already. You don’t need to prove anything to me or to anyone.”
“I respect you too David. I respect you more than any other person I know.”
That made my heart swell like an inflated balloon.
“You know so much, you do so much for me. You’re like my perfect robot friend.”
That popped the balloon.
I gave her a forced smile.
“Here, let me take your bag.” I picked up an incredibly heavy backpack. Of course I pretended it was light. I didn’t want her to see how heavy everything she had packed was. It was damn heavy.
“Thank you David” she said “I’m so excited to see the sights!”
“Thank you for coming Sam. I’m excited to be traveling with you. Abe said he’d meet us by the yellow slide. He’s probably there already.”
“David?” Sam turned to me as we walked away from her house.
“Let’s promise never to leave each other alone on this trip ok?”
“It’s not a trip. It’s a quest.”
“Ok. On this quest. Let’s promise never to leave each other on this quest.”
“I would never leave you alone.”
“Let’s just promise. Please?”
“Ok. I promise to never leave you.” I told her.
“You need to put your hand on your heart.”
“Where’s my heart?”
“Somewhere inside your chest.”
I put my hand on my chest. She did too. Together we made a promise never to leave each other on this quest. For some reason I liked promising to her and I liked hearing her promises. They sounded so good and I really wanted to believe every word. How different the promises made during ignorant bliss.
I didn’t know how hard that promise would be tested. I didn’t know much about the things we would be facing. All I knew at that point, all I needed to know, was that Sam was walking beside me, holding my hand, as we started this journey to who knows where.
“David, you’re holding my hand too tightly. You don’t have to handcuff me. I just promised you I would never leave.”
“Oh. Sorry.” I loosened my grip.
I should have never done that.
I would learn that promises are only as good as the one who gave it.