Pinky Promises | Teen Ink

Pinky Promises

May 30, 2021
By Anonymous

Author's note:

Madeleine is a 16 year old (class of 2022) pageant queen and philanthropist with a new love for writing. 

I live in a world without mysteries, miracles, or magic. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters. No fairies, mythical creatures, or a magical guy to bring gifts. And definitely no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where dreams are crushed and promises are broken. I live in a world where people die, and catastrophes strike, and music and love is forgotten, and things suck. 

-What Could Have Been

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

“Hey! You’re new here, right? My name is Berkely! I live like an hour away, but it’s so cool to meet you! Welcome to your first day of 8th grade- well, at this school at least… it’s second semester…. you know what I mean!” I laughed at myself for messing up, but we struck up a conversation quickly. I could tell we were going to be good friends.

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

It was your second day, and you walked up to me and asked for a pencil. You did that almost every day for a month. Later I found out this was your way of talking to me each day until you worked up the nerve to ask me out—what a great story about gutsy middle school relationships.  

Monday, August 28th, 2018

“Berks, truth or dare?”


“Tell me something you’re scared of saying out loud,” he dared me. 

I looked at him straight in the eyes, then glanced out to the window seeing the moon and hearing the faint drizzle of rain before I responded. “I love you.”

I heard his smile even before I saw it and before he spoke, “See? That wasn’t so hard after all.” 

I smiled back, shaking my head and laughing. “You’re an idiot, Tristen.” 

Monday, April 12th, 2021

It was Monday. Many people think Mondays suck- that they’re the start of another monotonous week- but statistically, there are over 5,000 weddings and 42 million hugs happening just in the United States. Also, there will be 600 dogs adopted and 35,000 balloons sold. Plus, the words I love you will be said over 9 million times today. So, again, many think Mondays suck, but I smile knowing that, at least according to statistics, Mondays are good days. And today was a good Monday. 

You picked me up on the dot at seven to head to Friends Academy- our daily routine during the school year since freshman year. Now, three years later, we’re still the only two families in Southampton to drive an hour to go to a top high school. But it’s worth it when I’m in the car with you. From the hot coffees and chocolates we share, talks we have, and music we scream to, I can be authentically myself and never be judged. I guess that’s what makes you the perfect boyfriend.  

After 7th period you met me at my locker, keys in hand and a smirk on your face. I knew this meant another one of your stupid challenges that I pretend to hate but secretly love and live for because they make up for the crappy school days.  

“Race you to my car? Last one there pays for donuts!”

I knew it. God, I hate that kid, but I love him. I chased after him knowing he would win. “Unfair! You got a head start!”

“Berks, you’re a sore loser; you’re lucky I love you.”

They say that you can find love anywhere and everywhere, and in everyone and everything, but the love I have with you is the most illogical yet logical thing. You tease me, challenge me, piss me off, but at the end of the day, you love me, help me grow, are my better half, and I can’t consider the idea of us being separate. The only thing I can do is love you.

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

“Berks. Berks. Berkely. Oh my god, Berkely.”

“What?” I responded groggily, waking up from my nap on your bed. After a long day of prom dress shopping, I was not in the mood for this to be a waste of time with you just wanting food from Chick-Fil-A. On top of it all, paparazzi (or more like my mom’s fans) were waiting outside, ready to prance on me and ask thousands of questions. I can’t wait to get out of here.

“Check your email right now, acceptance letters were just sent out from Wake Forest, and we have to open them at the same time.”

A lot went through my mind when I processed what you said. Our entire future, everything we planned out, was determined by this one email. I was never one to care about status or what the public thought, but I knew getting into this school wasn’t just crucial to Tristen and me- it was important to my mom and all her followers ever since she announced it was my top choice. There’s something about pressure from 1.5 million people that you’ve never met that makes one word, accepted, seem so important.

We grabbed your computer and put both our parents on Zoom. Yours were at a restaurant on a date, while my mom was in the car and my dad was busy in his office- I don’t think he cared what our outcomes would be, not that it shocked me. “Okay, everyone, three…. two…. one….” Congratulations, Berkely, on your acceptance. Congratulations, Tristen, on your acceptance. We screamed and hugged each other close. Everything was turning out aye okay.

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

I wish I could explain to you just how wonderful you are. I know I don’t tell you how much I appreciate you and how much I care, but I do. I could look into your eyes and never get tired of their beauty. The sound of your voice still gives me butterflies years later. Seeing you walk into the room or pull up to my house always makes me smile. The way you deal with flashing cameras now and then and don’t complain when I cry -because, in all honesty, my life is too good- you are the best. I wish I could explain just how much I love you. But you have me at a loss for words sometimes- you have a way of doing that. And, to be honest, even if I could find the words to tell you these things, it wouldn’t come close to showing you how much you meant to me. 

Friday, May 14th, 2021, 10:01 p.m.

There was silence, momentary silence, as I put in my noise-canceling AirPods to answer your facetime call. Silence is a rare thing here, even living in Southampton. There was, of course, the busy city life an hour away that echoed on over: taxi cab horns, the chatter of tourists, planes flying over, a broadway show happening, some celebrity being spotted, sirens going off in the distance. At home, it’s different. I can always hear my mom entertaining her friends or working on fittings with an up-and-coming celebrity, my dad on the phone working on his next business deal, or my brother showing off some new thing in our house as a desperate attempt to impress and one-up his friends or practicing basketball outside. At home, it all seemed louder. 

From the outside aspect, one would think I would be in love with my life- like completely and utterly in love with every aspect. I mean, I should be. I go to a private high school, live in a huge house that has everything you could ask for in it, and can get anything I want with the touch of a button. But none of that is me. 

Since childhood, I was in fancy dresses on stage at pageants, interviewed with my parents, and behind the curtains watching as they achieved all their dreams. I was proud of them, don’t get me wrong, but I never asked to be a social media star or a celebrity. I guess it’s true, though; you can’t pick what family you are born into. 

I was never one of those girls who was in love with New York. I was never one of those girls at school that seem like they should be in Gossip Girl. I was not the next Blair Waldorf. Even though I’m popular, I hate the hustle and bustle, the annual dinner parties, the “status” I’m supposed to uphold, the formal dresses and pampered looks, and everything in between. Contrary to the girls’ beliefs at my school, having popular things does not make you an interesting person- it’s the fakeness of everything that I can’t deal with. I hate everything and everyone here because no one else gets it (except for you). Not everyone is made for the city, or maybe it’s just that not everyone is made for or wants the fame that comes with a fashion model mother turned successful designer and business mogul dad who is on the cover of Forbes. For a place that many think is beautiful, where people come to be inspired, I can’t turn a blind eye to the true darkness that the concrete jungle hides. I guess it’s true; beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But sadly, the eyes of this beholder can’t find beauty in the fakeness of this reality.

With family fame and popularity comes many opportunities, and with opportunities, it leads to travel. From Algeria to Venezuela, Alabama to Wyoming, I’ve seen a lot in my 18 years of life. During a family trip with Tristen and three of my brother’s friends to Folly Beach and a road trip up to North Carolina, I knew I wanted to escape. I was at home in North Carolina, and so were you. The way your face lit up on the beach, and how happy and free we were exploring the town- that was home. Not the hustle-bustle of a city.

Friday, May 14th, 2021, 10:02 p.m.

The ring of the AirPods signaling them being connected was quickly followed by you popping up on the screen, bright-eyed as ever. You ran your hands through your ashy blonde hair giving me your signature one-sided lip raised smile that had no business being as attractive as it was. Just seeing that little smile made my heart flutter for a second and made me so freaking happy in a way that only you could do. You had a funny way of making me smile and laugh no matter how upset I was. You had a funny way of making everything seem okay because when I was with you, everything was more than okay; it was perfect because we balanced each other out. 

You interrupted the thoughts racing into my mind thinking about each and every one of your features and how I much rather have you here next to me (and preferably with your lips on mine). You started talking about your football practice and school and soon ventured to how annoying the math teacher was for not giving you partial credit on question number four. Our conversation flowed easily as we laughed over stupid antics. As the hours multiplied, you asked me something that reminded me of everything I had to look forward to. Everything that made living here okay in the long run. Everything that kept me optimistic. 

“So Berks, when are we getting out of here? When are we going to take the leap and move to Winston? We graduate in a month, and we already have the downpayment on the house, thanks to your parents. I know we don’t start at Wake until late August, but it would be nice to be settled before then.”

“Well, after graduation we have to stay for the party, or else my parents will kill us, but the week after sounds good. Thirteen hours in the car won’t be the most enjoyable since it’s the summer, are you sure we can’t fly? Do you think it will be raining when we get there?” -Yes, I was all over the place, but the reason why I love rain is because it’s ambient noise, a background noise that no one really listens to. It reminds me of myself. No one else but you ever really listens to me. It takes someone like you to notice me. You love it for a different reason. You always have said that it makes my blue eyes shine just a little more like the whole universe is trapped in them, waiting for its moment to break free and cause the second big bang. But honestly, I think you only like it because it reminds you of the first time I told you I loved you.- “I know we’re going to have to work extra hard, but I want to start our YouTube channel ASAP, and I’m dedicated to starting to write more this summer. Plus, you’ll be busy training for the NFL, it’s still your dream, and we can make it work. T this has been our dream for four years, and it’s all coming so soon. I know we’re ready, though.” And although my brain was frantic, going from idea to idea as I was pacing around my room talking, I knew deep down we were ready. Every part of our plan had been smoothed out over the last four years of us dating; we knew what we wanted.

After you moved here in 8th grade, we have been together every day of the week. We picked each other for every group project, made sure our schedules matched perfectly and were front row at each other’s events. Our energy just matches. I’m not one to believe in soulmates, but I guess I kind of do because those are the only words I can use to describe you and me. You’re my person.

From freshman year when we knew where we wanted to move after the trip, to sophomore year when it became evident you had to go pro because you were a little too talented on the field, and junior year when my love of writing developed, this was all our dream. And I know I want to escape the fame and pressure of New York, and planning to marry a football player may not be ideal for getting out of the spotlight, but when that football player is you? It’s different. When we can create a balance and raise a family and be there for each other in contrast to my family that fights when the paparazzi aren’t around, and the guests aren’t over, and when they think me and my brother are asleep…..

“Berkely Lynne, come downstairs, please. Your father has an announcement,” my mother always found the perfect time to kill the mood. 

“Well, I guess you got to go, Berks. I love you. I’ll come drive over tomorrow after Saturday practice. Oh, and tell your fam I say hi, they have to continue like their future son-in-law.”

“Oh my god, T, they love you, and you know it. But hey, you have to pinky-promise on it.”

“I pinky promise, I’ll be there tomorrow, and we can even go to Sant Ambroeus for lunch.”  

“Okay, deal, see you tomorrow. I love you.”

As I went down the steps to hear about whatever the hell my father has to say, I was still in my blissful state that talking to you always takes me to. I was happy- happy that we were so close to escaping this city and moving to the quaint country in South Carolina. Although I didn’t pay much attention to my father’s new business partner and even less attention to what was happening in the most recent trilogy to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before as I drifted off to sleep. I was even able to tune out most of the yelling that traveled from my father’s office up the grand staircase and down the hall to my room. I was happy and at peace, knowing you would be with me again in the morning. 

Saturday, May 15th, 2021, 8:30 a.m.

8:30, I woke up to a good morning snap from you from three hours ago on your way to practice. I grabbed a hoodie (your grey Burberry one that had a hint of your St. Rose cologne on it), made some coffee, went outside, put our playlist on shuffle, and waited for it to get closer to 10 to get ready to see you. The morning that would change my life felt like any other day. The planes flying overhead, my brother playing basketball. Everything was normal. How come normality has to be interrupted? How come endings have to change? 

Saturday, May 15th, 2021, 10:32 a.m.

10:32. I’ll never forget it. I stepped out of my shower to my phone ringing and your mom telling me to get to the hospital. Urgency. Panicking as I got in the car and driving as fast as possible, who cares about speed limits when there’s a time limit. You know that feeling where you just want to say, “I don’t know what to do,” over and over again? Because you literally don’t have an idea what to do anymore, and you feel like you’re trapped in this black void of a mess that you can’t seem to get out of no matter how fast you try to run? That was me as I was flying down the roads.

11:13. Holding your hand, crying over you. Barely feeling you squeeze my hand for the last time. It was our goodbye. 

12:18. Time of death.

Saturday, May 15th, 2021, 11:45 p.m.

The lady at the hospital told me I should work on identifying my feelings to try to stay grounded the first few hours. I am tired. And it’s so awfully difficult to feel sad and tired when all you want to feel -when all you should be feeling- is alive. I was meant to be with you. That’s one thing I do believe. I believe that we were right for each other and that we were meant to be once upon a time. But, in this cruel world of reality, life changes before you even have time to blink, and suddenly everything you had ever known is no longer familiar to you. I do believe that you were supposed to be my first and last love, the person I would grow old with. It’s like we were so perfect for each other, but the universe found a way to tear us apart. Like when you’re in the sea, and you’re trying to catch the waves with your hands. When it’s right there in front of you, but it’s absolutely impossible to catch. Little did I know just 24 hours ago that the world had fooled me into thinking it was kind by bringing you into my life at just the right time a few years ago. It let us create the perfect image of our future. But then, it took you away and left my heart shattered, showing just how cruel the world really is. My world wasn’t quite destroyed, but it was most definitely gone. 

As I lay here in bed, unable to sleep as I choke on my tears, all I can do is ask why. Why the f*ck did that man have to get drunk so early. Why the f*ck did he decide to go and drive. Why the f*ck did you have to die. Why couldn’t I do anything. Why couldn’t it be me. WHY.

I went to sleep that night with an ache in my heart, tears running down my face, sob after sob. Biting down on my lip, trying not to make any noise, but the tears wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. It hurts so f*cking bad.  

I’m so sorry I couldn’t do anything to save you.

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021, 1:00 p.m.

Have you ever wondered what happens when you’re forced to let go of the person who was at the center of your life? I was sitting next to your mom and dad in the front row, her arm around me, hugging me close before walking to give her speech. Could you see us? Could you hear your mom’s voice as it echoed through the room as she quoted Mark Helprin?

“Perhaps passing through the gates of death is like passing quietly through the gate in a pasture fence. On the other side, you keep walking without the need to look back. No shock, no drama, just the lifting of a plank or two in a simple wooden gate in a clearing. Neither pain, nor floods of light; nor great voices, but just the silent crossing of the meadow.” Her voice cracked just a little. “We are all here today to honor my son, your friend, family, and love, whose life was taken too soon….”  I stopped paying attention and zoned out. You shouldn’t be gone. We should be together right now. But then your mom mentioned me. “And to the sweet girl whose life is equally as impacted, the girl who would have been my daughter-in-law and will always be welcome in our family, I want to leave you with some words. Berkely, please understand that you are still young, and the world is an endless place, and somehow in some way, everything will be okay. He’s still looking out for you.”

As I placed a flower over your grave as they filled it with dirt, all I could think was, I want to drive until this f*cking town is nothing but a bad dream. Nothing is okay.  Nothing will ever be okay. How can anyone f*cking say that because that’s all I hear nowadays. Unless someone out there has some magical spell to bring someone back, don’t you dare tell me that everything will be okay.

It was as I was driving back home on the backroads that I burst into tears. I think that’s when I realized that I feel much more lonely now than other people would ever tell. I just miss you. 

Losing you hasn’t just been painful; it’s been f*cking damaging. It’s not like the movies where friends come and surround you while you watch movies and eat ice cream. They don’t drop everything to surprise you at your door, forcing you to get up, get dressed, get in the car, and go shopping. It’s not a news story calling people to rally together to make you feel better. No, it’s been fake posts saying how sorry they were when they never even met you. They just saw one picture of you on my mom’s page, and suddenly they are your best friend.  It’s been me staying up through the witching hours because the thought of you not here has been so f*cking intense that I can’t close my eyes without picturing your lifeless face. It’s been me swallowing thickly while blinking back tears as the press came to interview me- no comment, I said. I feel like knives are stabbing millions of holes in my chest, and my breaths are coming out shaky. The urge to fall apart has been getting stronger. It f*cking hurt. Losing you hurts. 

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021, 8:00 a.m.

My first day back to school since the accident. My first and only day at school without you. For the first time at 7 am, I got in my car to drive an hour with my brother in the passenger seat, remaining quiet but being there so his presence would at least comfort me. I walked through the halls and followed the school day schedule. It was just a schedule. So here’s what I learned from school: how to use y=mx + b to calculate the slope (of just how downhill my life is going). Oh, and how to fake a smile when the fake girls come up to you saying how sorry they are for your loss. I went to sleep that night just wanting to talk to you. Even one word. Something. Anything. But I knew that was impossible because the world is not a wish-granting factory. So instead, I went to sleep, wishing not to wake up. But even that wish couldn’t be granted.

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. Or, it’s all the love you want to give someone but can’t. All that unsaid and unexpressed love eventually gathers up to liquid in the corner of your eyes, or maybe as a lump in your throat. Grief, in actuality, is the love that has no place to go. 

Berkeley’s Guide to Surviving the First Month of Grief: 

-Cry and let it all out. Scream if you have to. Hell, punch a wall and break a plate throwing it at the floor; grief comes in waves

-Tell the girl in the bathroom that you love her shirt because seeing her smile will make you smile

-Ask people questions about themselves- it makes them feel important and fills some time

-Focus your energy more on your character than on your outward appearance 

-Mental health > school work (you’re going to graduate)

-Sing at the top of your lungs and try to find joy

-Forgive (the forget part will never come)

-There will be things you won’t get over

-Be proud of yourself


You need to stay here on this Earth and keep living no matter the pain and hurt that creeps up late at night. And you need to stay loudly. You are here- and so many beautiful, painful, and reckless moments have led you to be in this exact moment. While you exist, every moment of your life matters. Change will come no matter how statue like you stand. So make your choices, and make them loud. Trust your gut. And don’t you dare think that no one would notice if you just disappeared. If you ceased to exist? The universe would notice- and oh, the mess that would make and the hearts it would break. So just stay. Stay for the bad choices. Stay for the good ones. Stay for them. And cause a few hurricanes while you still can.

Monday, June 21st, 2021, 11:11 a.m.

The hardest part about losing you was that I had to keep going. I had to keep going knowing that my book would no longer have you in it when I turned the page. It was graduating without you by my side and still having the strength to move to North Carolina. It was finding out I was pregnant and knowing I was going to be a single 19-year-old mother. It was me driving alone wearing your hoodie that faintly still smelled like you when suddenly, our song came on. It was an awful reminder of you. You promised we would escape this town together, but here I am, escaping it alone with your ashes, ready to spread them across the valleys and oceans and everywhere in-between; all the places we should have seen together. I turned the radio off and screamed. I was shouting to the great beyond, cursing the world for taking you from me. I calmed down a bit and asked you if I was making the right choice. Instead of your reassuring voice there cheering me on, there was silence.  

Monday, January 3rd, 2022, 8:12 a.m.

I think we deserve a soft epilogue, my love- we’ve suffered enough. A year can change a lot- and I thought I was only going to be saying f*ck 2020, not f*ck 2021. But here I am. Our baby girl, Tris, was born, and she looked just like you. From the sprays of ashy blonde hair to the eyes that twinkle at her young age, she is my forever reminder of you. I still love you, and I always will. And I will make sure Tris grows up and experiences as much of the world as she can. 

Sometime in the Future

I could write a f*cking novel about the ache of missing you. In fact, I did, and it’s how I became known. But in that version, we got our happily ever after. Because if we can’t be together forever in this lifetime, at least we can be somewhere. It began,“ I live in a world without mysteries, miracles, or magic. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters. No fairies, mythical creatures, or a magical guy to bring gifts. And definitely no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where dreams are crushed and promises are broken. I live in a world where people die, and catastrophes strike, and music and love is forgotten, and things suck.”

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