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To Keep A Promise

by Elsa M 5 months ago in Relationships
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For Carola

My family was cursed a long time ago by a broken promise, or so they say. Hundreds of years ago, my ancestor’s lover went to war and left her to be married off against her will and breaking their promise of everlasting love. Ever since, every one hundred years, a demon will appear and steal the heart of the oldest child of the family.

Unfortunately for me, the demon is coming the day before I turn eighteen, making me the oldest child.

There are ways to ward off the demon, or so my mother says. A blue Opal on your right hand or a flower behind your ear, although which kind varies depending on who you ask. My mother says an iris, my grandmother says a lily, and my aunt a crocus.

So I lay in bed, a heart shaped blue Opal on my right hand and three flowers in my hair. I do not sleep, I wait. I wait as the clock ticks close to midnight on the day of the broken promise. The clock strikes twelve, and the room begins to warm. A shadow rises in the corner of the room and in a flash its face is close to mine. Fully black eyes bore into my soul like the boneworms of the deepest depths of the sea, and I feel my breath catch. The demon stares into me for what feels like an eternity, before calmly settling down at the foot of my bed.

The demon’s slender body is of a feminine shape and pale as the moon, with long tendrils of ink black hair to match its fully black eyes that start to turn blood red at the ends. A pair of jagged, spiraling horns on its head mirror the color of its hair; red tips bleeding into black. Its feathery wings are coal black, as if they were burnt to a crisp.

The demon opens a mouth of razor sharp teeth and I feel my heart hammering in my chest.

“Promitto me?”

The words escape the demon’s mouth in a raspy voice that must once have been soothing.

I think back on what my mother said once, as she burned the books I had bought in hopes to buy myself time.

“Never say yes to a demon’s tongue. They will only bring us misery and chaos.”

But I grow weary of heeding her words.

“Yes.” I say to the demon on my bed. The demon’s stance softens, and she curls up by my feet to sleep.

The next morning is less than pleasant. My family, it seems, is unhappy at the prospect of my awakening. My mother is angry that her daughter has not been made a martyr. The demon floats over my shoulder, giving off the smell of a winter’s fire, but nobody can see. She follows me all day, always floating over my shoulder and observing the world around us. At night, she once again curls up by my feet and falls asleep.

Days turn into weeks.

Two weeks in, I give my demon her first clothes. Nothing special, just an old red sweater and torn up jeans. Her black eyes glitter like onyx and she refuses to take them off again.

Weeks turn into months.

She hasn’t left my side once. She sees everything I do and that is done to me. She sees the wrath of my mother over the slightest inconveniences, but sees how I flourish when I’m on my own. It’s strange. When will she take my heart? Why is she biding her time?

One autumn night it is particularly cold, and I watch as the demon tosses and turns feverishly full of terror at the foot of my bed. Maybe it’s affection, or just plain stupidity, but I invite her under the covers with me for the night. Her body is like fire and her arms are around my waist, and I feel warmth from inside me.

The months drag on and the demon doesn’t leave my side. She sleeps beside me in my bed now, her warmth encasing my body as she slumbers peacefully. She still goes with me everywhere, helping me with my day to day tasks such as laundry and keeping track of what food is needed. I no longer live in fear of the death that I will surely meet at her claws, but instead wonder if she will still be with me in the next world.

It gets worse at home by the day, and I spend many nights crying over the cruelty of those I call my loved ones. The demon takes me into her arms and tries to soothe me. I spend nights with her running my fingers along her charred feathers as she combs clawed fingers through my hair. We spend countless nights together like this, and my heart flutters in my chest.

The day before my nineteenth birthday, I am locked up in a strange room by my mother. The demon cannot enter here, or so my mother says. The doorknob is silver and the wood of the door and floors are ash and rowan. I weep to myself, feeling lonelier than I have in such a long time.

Close to midnight, the door flies open, and there is my demon. She stands with anger in her eyes, her feet and hands burning from the touch of holy wood and metal, but her eyes soften once they meet mine. She walks to me on burning feet and takes my hand in hers, placing the other one on my cheek, while her eyes stare into mine.

The demon once more opens her fanged mouth and speaks those same words I heard a year ago this very night.

“Promitto me?”

And just as the year before, I give my answer.

“Yes.”

She leans in, and I feel her lips on mine.

So this is what they mean by the demon stealing your heart.

I kiss back, and an entire life story from a time long ago flashes before my eyes. I hold my demon close, as I watch a promise made long ago unfold before my eyes.

When I come back, for a split second I am my ancestor, and the demon is the girl she promised to be with forever.

“Promitto me?” I think back on the words.

“Promise me?”

“Yes.” I say again.

It turns out a demon’s tongue can be trusted.

The next morning, my family does not find me in my room. They will search for me before deciding the demon must have made good on her promise, and go to preparing for my death.

In a seaside cottage far away, I sleep through the sunrise in the arms of a former demon, keeping a promise that was made long ago. And I hope to keep that promise this time.

Relationships

About the author

Elsa M

18 Years Old

She/Her/They/Them

Marine Bio Student

Class of 2025

I tell my story because when I am forgotten, I am truly gone. The longer my stories grace people’s tongues, the longer I live.

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