Promises

The setting is in and around Harvard Law School, 1973. It’s a Sunday afternoon. Although I should be spending my time working on my law review article, I sit in the library writing a note on reasons for ending my life. Phil, my editor, is near me in Langdell Hall. I finish my note and show it to him. After he reads it, he walks off quickly, a worried look on his face. I sit with a heavy law reporter in front of me, reading a case that might or might not have to do with civil commitment of the mentally ill.

Later, Barry, the president of the Harvard Law Review, Phil, and Faith, a fellow editor to whom I’m mildly attracted, invite me to join them for dinner at a cheap restaurant. We order beer and drink. We order food and eat. We talk about nothing important. No one mentions suicide.

Then, as if on signal, my friends become oddly quiet. After a few seconds, Faith announces out of the blue that she’s getting married the next morning to a man she doesn’t love, a spur of the moment thing.

A beat.

Then she turns to me – putting her hand on my arm – and says, “Well, look, if you don’t kill yourself, I won’t get married. Deal?”

We trade promises and finish our dinners.

 

Bruce Berger

Bruce J. Berger is an MFA candidate at American University in Washington, DC. His work appears in Wilderness House Literary Review, Prole, Jersey Devil Press Anthology, Black Magnolias, and a variety of other literary journals.

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