I Don’t Make Promises Anymore

you say i’ll go first if you promise to save me if i fall.

I Don’t Make Promises Anymore
Photo by Haylee Marick / Unsplash

by Jonny Bolduc

the gulley on the side of the road floods in the spring and turns into a bog, six feet deep in the middle until it dries out in August. there are tadpoles in the black stained water and they are currency. we put them in a 20 gallon plastic bin filled with hose water and whoever has the biggest frog wins. we name them after pokemon and we feed them earthworms and we mess around with them, make them wear tiny paper hats and pretend they are wizards before letting them go in the retention pond behind avery’s house.

usually, we stand on the rocks and try to catch them but we can hear the frogs farther out in the little bog. there’s another rock that maybe we could jump to and we could hop out into the middle of the gulley and catch the big fat, almost frogs.

i have a barn thats old and falling apart and is gray and rotting, and we’re not allowed in but i go in all the time because it’s really neat. there’s dust and old bottles of booze and metal and even old tractor pieces and hoes and pitchforks on the wall. i know there’s an old ladder in there, and if i stole it we could lay it across the rock and reach the middle and we could catch those really good tadpoles.

but we have to cross the rotting floor. i’m scared. the floor is bouncy and watery and when you put weight on it it kind of feels like your stepping on foam. It’s about ten feet to the side of the wall where the old ladder is and i stand in the doorway and i don’t want to go first.

you say i’ll go first if you promise to save me if i fall.

i say ok

and you take a step onto the rotted floor and it holds and i plod along behind you.

we get to the middle. I am a few steps behind you. it happens. your back foot falls through the floor. you tumble backwards, and bash your head off the floor before ragdolling backwards into the gaping hole. i scream your name as i hear what sounds like a dry tree snapping and you groan and i hear your breathing get heavy and heavier and i hear you vomit and i can’t move i have to save you i told you i would save you but if i move towards you i could fall into the middle and i’m frozen and your heavy breathing sounds more like gasping, and i am laying on my stomach a few steps behind where the floor swallowed you.

and the gasping stops oh my god the gasping stops the gasping stops and it’s silent.

Jonny Bolduc is a newcomer to the lit scene. A smattering of memes and self published books of poetry dot his resume. He lives in Maine, works as a teacher, and is a devoted guardian to three cats.