The Promise, by J. W. Cassandra

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The Promise, by J. W. Cassandra

Beyond a hidden bar of the multi-room restaurant, combined with a garden room, a slightly balding, lonely figure sat. In front of him was a glass, in it the red wine sparkled untouched. Although, the man had been sitting there for hours, staring fixed in front of him, not talking to anyone, and the disinterested glimpse of the waiters passing to and fro and the similar glimpse of the regulars indicated that it was a habitual sight. No one sat next to him on the bar stool, no one mingled with him, noticeably he wouldn’t have been gratified by it. However, he looked up from time to time, ran his gaze through people sitting in the hall, searched each newcomer, then stared at his glass again, as if finding in the ruby red nectar that he was looking for. His gaze fascinated me: whenever he scanned a new entrant, the hope sparkled up in his eyes, and turning back to the glass, the light in his eyes faded, he stared with dull pain into nothingness again, his gaze as if were sprinkled with ashes.

I sat closer, if he might notice me. No spark of interest appeared on him either. I caughed slightly, squirmed, I greeted my glass at him as it fit in a place like this, but he didn’t even stir. Then I addressed him: „Cheerio! This buzz is so interesting here that among many people, one can hide just as if he would be invisible…”

The man didn’t stir until I told the word „invisible”. Then all of a sudden, as if awaking from an endless dream or suddenly coming to light from the bottom of the sea, he stared at me: „Invisible?”, his hoarse voice uncovered his excitement hitting the sky.

„Yes, invisible. As if he would be invisible”, I repeated my recent words.

„Man, do you know what you’re talking about?!”, he shouted at me with excitement beyond expression. „I have been sitting here for decades, day after day, always having only a glass of wine and every god-blessed day I just keep sitting here for hours and waiting… And I myself feel exactly so, as you told: I’m invisible. Although, I’m sitting here for that person, whom I waiting for, could notice me finally…”

He stopped speaking. Excitement flared in him, the amber began to glow under the ashes.

„And should I know whom you are waiting for? And why for so long?”

„I don’t mind, let it be…”, the balding man began. “I just graduated in engineering, I was a junior clerk, when it happened, in my mid-twenties. I remember as if it would happening now: I was sitting right here, in front of me with a glass of wine, red. A banquet for a high school class was just being arranged in one of the halls. Only this small room was open to everyone of the whole restaurant, all the rests were reserved for a dressing-room, a dance hall, for dinner, for a show – because it was either – by one of the grammar schools. A crowd of teachers, students, parents, siblings, relatives gathered. The dressing-room for the show and for the dance, was made here next to us in this alcove”, he pointed to a small room that could be about sixty five square feet.

„Then it was separated by a curtain”, he continued. „The girls dressed up there: they entered in a casual dress, then they breezed out in coming out dresses, in high heels, with a beautiful hairstyle, in a word, they entirely transformed. I liked some of them as I was looking at them as fresh „prey”, but since I had nothing to do with the event, I didn’t try to woo any of them. Suddenly, a girl arrived, accompanied by her younger or elder sister, she rushed behind the curtain and she was yelling at the other girl in the hellish noise to bring her an ice-cream. Her sister set out for the bar, here, since one could get it here, too, but suddenly a gong sounded and the show started, then it was followed by the official part of the dance and dinner. However, the girl didn’t follow her sister, stumbling in a coming out dress, but here, where you’re sitting now, stopped and said to me: «Hello! You didn’t come to the banquet, did you?»”

„You hit it,” I replied, „I’m just spending my time.”

„And what do you usually do? What’s your name?”

„Sorry, but I don’t think you have anything to do with it…”

I glanced bored the other way, I was staring intentionally at the beautiful girls self-important, to show: I didn’t like her. But she remained cool:

„You know, it’s okay, if you don’t tell me your name. I don’t tell you mine either. But if you want…”

„Look, shouldn’t you attend at the banquet?”, I interrupted her brutally.

„Oh, don’t worry about it”, she waved, „you know…”

„You know, I don’t want anything from you. Forgive me, you’re a perfectly ordinary girl: your hair are boring brown, what is more, they’re straight, you aren’t perfectly shapely, nothing…”

„Is there nothing fashionable in me?”, she smiled. I stared at her. The ordinary girl transformed, she suddenly became a perfect, self-assured, beautiful-looking woman of the world, her cold gaze flashed at me, she was exactly what I was always die at my heart in secret. But she changed to such shape just for a split second, then again the former ordinary girl stood before me. I didn’t want to believe my eyes: who is this girl? Which of her shapes is real? And what can she want right from me?

I grew excited, till she had visibly a royal time. I could probably stare at her with a face like aurochs [1]… Well, it’s enough that I asked who she was.

„I’m the one you see!”, the mysterious reply came.

„And which one? Are you the former woman of the world, or are you the current ordinary girl? Sorry, but the difference is tremendous…”

„So-so – neither this nor that…”, and her eyes sparkled mischievously.

I took a deep breath because I couldn’t start speaking.

„If you choose the woman of the world, then I’m that. If the ordinary, then that…”

„But I don’t want anything from any woman!”, I tried to veil my confusion with moroseness.

„Oh, don’t think I offer you something you can get on every street corner! Do you have friends?”

„Friends? I think I have no of them. Just buddies, companions.”

„Well, yeah, I was sure,” she squinted. „Do you want to be my friend?”

„How? What? What do you mean by this?”

„Like I said, do you want to be my friend?”

„I don’t like you, as for that…”

„…at least not in my this form,” she chuckled. „I know. But I didn’t mean what you did. But true friendship.”


„… there is such, believe me… I had a friend – unfortunately he is no longer alive – who was a friend in that sense. That’s what I thought. Think carefully before you answer! By the way, you don’t know the essence yet: the friendship I’m talking about and what I recommend you now, isn’t ordinary. It is characterized by mutual acquaintance, respect, honour, devotion, assistance, and friendly love; it’s a selfless, honest, pure relationship. My friend I mentioned you, was like that. We talked a lot about a wide variety of topics. We watched movies, played sports, laughed a lot, and we both believed in each other, in each other’s values, with profound conviction. Of course, we also had other relationships that didn’t bother this friendship at all.”

„I can imagine!”, I interjected.

„No, you can’t”, she shook her head, „because this friendship points beyond narrow-minded human aspects and will pass all tests. I offer you this kind of friendship! Such one that flashes the alternative of a better, cleaner life. That obliges, takes beyond the grave and is more profound than the ties of blood, more profound than romantic love. A friendship that allows you to live your life but rises you to the horizon of pure emotions.” And then she transformed for a wink: a beautiful light shining in rainbow colours, came forth of her shape, and her gaze flashed with a non-human, unearthly charm. I expected sarcasm, instead of it, she was like a diamond, like a lake of clear water, so deep that one perishes in it, maybe even bottomless. And what is so brilliantly, translucently clear that the sight of fish floating in the deep tempts one into its water, and they want to hold it in their hand, one is beckoned by pebbles in its bed, and one reaches out the hand to grab them, because the dangerous depth isn’t seen because of the brilliant purity. Something like this, flashed in her eyes. And the light transformed into an evenly silvery, then shining in golden envelope of light. Then she changed back: I saw again the former ordinary girl.

„I still have to think”, I took a deep breath.

„Sure! I’ll give you time for it. If I see you’re ripened to it, I’ll come again. For the friendship I offer, is a lifelong one, and it’s the same for me either, because we don’t have to be together all the time in order that it could live.”

„When and where will I find you?”

„I’ll find you, don’t worry either for a minute!”

„But you don’t even know my name…”

„No problem, you don’t know mine either… Leave that to me!”

„«Who are you? A fairy?» However, she just smiled and said, «Think, live worthily, and if you’re ripened for this friendship, I’ll visit you again, because this friendship will live even if you become a toothless, bald old man, and beyond that, beyond death», and saying so, she disappeared.
I’ve been sitting here every day since then, because I think if she saw me then here, she can find me here again if she sees fit. The wine is always the same: full-bodied red, strictly a decilitre, so that I can meet this strange fairy with clear thoughts and a clear mind. Most of the time, the waiter takes it back untouched. I pay only for the place, because I am waiting for the fairy of my life…”

„But then,” I asked, „what do you spend your life on?”

„As I told, I’m an engineer. I do work and after it I sit here day by day, waiting for the fairy of my life. I am sure she can find me here…”

„And if she won’t come back any more?”

„She’ll return. She promised. She promised friendship. And if this friendship with the unearthly beauty lasts only for a minute, I haven’t wasted the years idle. You know, I can’t be deceived, I can’t be convinced by faith, without arguments. For every thing, considered marvellous, I say: seeing is believing… But her I saw! You can’t imagine how wonderful this existence is, enchantment of which she spelled me over… Because it’s really so: since then, I neither do care about women, about my drinking companions, nor the idle, empty things, I’m just waiting. I’m waiting for her because she promised: she’ll come again… And I’m sure she will do so. And even if our friendship lasts only for one minute, it was worth for me.”

At that moment, a light flashed in the huge wall-mirror next to the bar, I also grabbed my gaze there. I stared petrified: an ordinary girl emerged in the mirror, then she transformed — unearthly, gorgeous lights emanated forth from her, her gaze was like the diamond, like a lake of deep, clear water. And her voice caressed like velvet as she started speaking:

„Behold, I keep my promise taken in the days of yore! You were able to choose me without knowing if I would ever come again indeed. Waiver ripens the fruit sweet. If the world is empty, all its phenomena are empty. If you can’t find the value inside yourself, you won’t find it outside either. He who longs for my friendship longs for the unfathomable spirit. And since she can never be his, he sacrifices himself for it. This is the meaning of living on Earth: waivering, one can rise by me to the heavenly horisons. If you’re able to recognize the true value of this kind of earthly life by yourself, you’re also able to walk its path. My friendship means this path. Come!”, and the man, growing bald, rose to his feet enchanted, he entered the mirror next to the glorious figure, and she took him by his hand. Then the fairy’s light engulfed him as well, and they disappeared with a mighty flash.

I was dazzling, my ears were ringing, and I recovered to the sight of my conversation partner was prone on the glass.

I shook him, he turned down. A huge turmoil burst, running, screams, but when I saw his face, I knew: that friend took him with herself, who had visited him once, and the moment was really worth it, he hadn’t been waiting so longfutile. Because in his eyes reigned the peace and happiness of the afterlife. His face settled, his hand let go of the convulsion of his life: he found his friend, the immortal fairy.

I envied him, instead of regret perhaps, you all understand!

Written: 28/07. 2011., by J. W. Cassandra

Translated: 28/07. 2011., J. W. Cassandra

[1] We use this saying as a proverb in Hungarian, in the form „he/ she stares at somebody like aurochs”, with the approximate meaning of „to stare at somebody endless stupidly”.


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J. W. Cassandra

About the Author: J. W. Cassandra

I’m a teacher and a registered author either, at Artisjus as a writer and a poet in Hungary. I love forests, butterflies, flowers.


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