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Excerpt from A Promise Kept by Elise Crawford

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Elise Crawford | 4 comments A Promise Kept The Story of One Widowed Bride's Journey Through Grief
Elise was born on a cold and wet November day in the Motor City the year U. S. troops were sent to prevent the South Vietnamese government from collapsing, and during election week the year the Voting Rights Act was signed into congress. Elise moved with her mother and younger sister, Jenny, to Seattle in 1968.
Although not formally educated as a writer, Elise has been writing creative fiction since she was eight years old. Elise holds several A. A. degrees; 1 Liberal, 2 Social Sciences, and 1 Technical. Throughout her college education she maintained her membership with the Phi Theta Kappa honor society while raising her two children single-handedly and working part-time teaching college level English to fellow ESL students. Elise is a native of Washington; she currently resides in Lynnwood, WA. She is the widow of the heroic Seattle Metro Transit driver tragically shot and killed in the line of duty on the Aurora Bridge the day after Thanksgiving, 1998. A Promise Kept is Elise’s first book; “Spiritual Intervention” was her first short story prior to the writing of this book. She is currently working on Wednesday’s Child, a prequel to A Promise Kept.
Excerpt from A Promise Kept:
More relatives visited that year than before. Choosing to ignore the reality and seriousness of her fate, Mark’s mom went about dinner like she did every year—smiling, laughing, and joking—with not a care in the world. The kids played with the other relatives while the adults visited. Everything was as it usually was. And what we thought was going to be a solemn Thanksgiving turned out to be one of the better ones. Because Mark and I had to work the following day, it was decided that Lexi would stay the night with his mom and his sister. So with a final round of hugs and kisses for all, Mark, the boys, and I headed for home. As we drove, I couldn’t help but think how devastated and depressed Mark was going to be without his mom, and how learning to live without her was to be our greatest challenge yet . . .
Ground Zero
Up early, I went through my usual morning routine to prepare for one last day of work before the holiday weekend. Mark’s shift started later than mine, which allowed him more time for shut-eye. Ready to leave, I stopped to kiss him goodbye. Feigning sleep, he startled me when he grabbed my arms and pulled me toward him. Laughing, I pried myself from his arms, and he reluctantly let me go. We quickly went over the plan for the children for the day. Lexi would remain with his sister and mom, and then I would pick her up on my way home from work. His oldest would be working until late; his youngest would be staying home alone, and Dale would go to work with him. I left with his promise to call me on his break.
Mark and Dale were about to leave the house when my sister, Jenny, who lived on the opposite side of town from us, was suddenly awakened from a sound sleep.* * * *
Like the vicious and loud beating of jungle drums, her heart pounded so intensely that it woke her from a sound sleep. Still caught up in the nightmare that she just couldn’t shake, she sat straight up in bed. Half awake, her mind tried desperately to make some sense of it. Shaking her to the core of her very soul, she had one consistent, loud, and overwhelming thought. She had to get her nephew, Dale. Trembling, she fumbled in the darkness of her room for the phone and called her sister’s house.* * * *
Mark and Dale were about to climb into the truck when they heard the phone ring. Mark hesitated but decided that there was enough time and went to answer it. It was my sister, Jenny. She was crying hysterically. She insisted that she be allowed to pick up Dale. She begged Mark to leave him at home and that she would explain it to me later. Confused by her irrational behavior but without time to argue or to call me at work, he agreed to leave Dale at home. And without another word, before he could even say goodbye, he heard her hang up. Forgetting to put on her coat, Jenny flew out the door in her pajamas, her heart still pounding a million times per second. Like a wild woman, with makeup from the night before now smeared down her face from the tears she’d been crying and her hair a tangled mess, she jumped into her car and raced for my house. When she finally reached Dale, she grabbed him into her arms, hugged him tightly, and cried harder than she ever cried before. Realizing that she confused and frightened him with her appearance and behavior, she could only explain that she had had a bad dream and just wanted him to visit her for the day.
At 10:00 am, I called home to assure that Mark had taken Dale to work with him. Mark’s son told me that Jenny had picked up Dale instead. I just couldn’t believe it. Mark knew we never went against the plan without talking it over first. I was irritated. I couldn’t wait until he called me, on his break, to see just what kind of reason he had for letting Dale go with her. Mark called me at work just before 2:30 pm. He said that there was a reasonable explanation for deviating from the plan, but because he was a little late leaving from Aurora Village to downtown, he would have to fill me in after he got home. Irritated or not, for the time being, I had to settle for his brief explanation. I wished him—as I always did—“Drive safe. I love you” and let him go back to work. I was not looking forward to the inevitable confrontation with my sister that was sure to follow when I picked Dale up later.
Mark’s seventy-two-foot passenger-articulated diesel bus trundled southbound on Aurora Avenue North, stopping periodically for passengers amid the strip malls, motels, and parking lots. Several boarded with Christmas packages from shopping, and others were on their way into town for more shopping. Some boarded for a spontaneous journey just glad to be outside after a week of pouring rain. Some were just glad to be off their feet after a long work shift and looked forward to settling in for a brief nap during the ride home while others headed to work. Some passengers read while others visited quietly with each other. It was an unusually quiet ride even with thirty-two passengers on board. The seats were occupied in no particular order, and only one passenger chose to sit up front across from the driver, the very seat Dale would have occupied had he gone to work with Mark. As the bus approached the Aurora Bridge, the passenger sitting closest to Mark stood up and approached him as if he were going to ask a question. But the man didn’t say a word. He pulled out a gun, pointed it at Mark, and shot him twice in his side instead.
It happened so fast that Mark didn’t have time to hit the emergency alarm. The man grabbed the steering wheel. Mark fought him, struggling to stay conscious and in control of the bus. The once-lulling quiet was shattered by their confrontation. There were more popping sounds from the gun. A passenger in the back yelled, “Gun! Gun!” In a panic, riders fell to their knees and covered their heads. Before losing consciousness, Mark pushed on the brakes as hard as he could, leaving a permanent scar on the pavement. His firm grip lessened, and he slumped unconscious over the steering wheel. The bus continued onward. It veered left and skidded another one hundred feet before going out of control. The bus swerved into the northbound oncoming traffic, traveling forty-nine miles per hour. It hit a van, crushing it all the way to its bumper, and then jumped a fifteen-inch curb and slammed into a guardrail. Grinding metal against metal and concrete, the bus ripped through a twenty-five-foot section of the rail and barreled right into a light pole, bending it in half. And then bus 359 flew off the Aurora Bridge.





message 2: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (scpennington) | 3 comments Wow, Elise. A story of tragedy, yet strength. You left me wanting to read further.

Sharon (Cupp Pennington)


message 3: by Elise (new)

Elise Crawford | 4 comments Thank you Sharon, if my story makes a difference in at least one person's life, then the pain of my loss wasn't in vain. Blessing, Elise


message 4: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Blake | 10 comments Elise wrote: "Thank you Sharon, if my story makes a difference in at least one person's life, then the pain of my loss wasn't in vain. Blessing, Elise"

That's a marvelous attitude to take. I feel the same way about my memoir.


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