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A Promise
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 by Frank Shortt
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C
     "I'll always love you!" Jim York cried as he rode off to war. Springtime was the best time to fight battles.
     "I'll wait for you ever!" Sharon Sims vowed. She already knew what could possibly happen.
     None of the young men who had ridden away from their neighborhood had ever returned. They were either killed or lay in some dark and lonely enemy prison. She prayed that this would not be the case with the one for whom her heart yearned.
     Other men tried to win Sharon's charms as she waited faithfully for Jim. These men did not grasp the scope of what she had vowed. They did not understand the deepness of love. Three years had passed and still no word of Jim. Sharon's hope would not be assuaged.
     One day in late August word finally came by a grim old Sergeant. He related, "I brung this letter from Jim York to you. I've packed it around since he lay bleeding and made me promise to deliver it to you. I found him in a dirty drainage ditch where he had been shot. The old sergeant choked up at the memory. He thought, "War is a dirty business not fit for any decent human being!"
     He continued as Sharon fetched him a cup of black coffee. "We had been pinned down ten men to one. Our food had run out and for many hungry days no one was able to bring us rations. We survived on potatoes that we dug up from the field we had landed in after being attacked. Our water had been rationed from the first. If one man could possibly break through the enemy lines, the whole platoon, anyway what was left of us, could be saved! The old sergeant hesitated in his narrative to wipe tears from his graying beard!
     "Jim York had been chosen to go because he had shown bravery and the ability to survive under any conditions, he continued. It was a tactical maneuver to get the enemy to thinking that there were more of us than what appeared. Jim made it through, even with multiple wounds. He delivered his message to the outpost and without divulging his own wounds he began to return to his company. He was seen and shot not far from our outpost. Thank God, he got through because the main company was able to break through, bringing us vittles and the reinforcements that we needed. Jim gave his life that others might live, me among 'em!" Jim York had succumbed to his wounds in a makeshift enemy hospital!
    The grizzled old soldier bade Sharon goodbye, leaving the letter from her joy. It read, "My love, I know that you have kept your vow. I surely have kept mine. In each and every thing I did, you were foremost in my mind. I prayed for you each night and every morning. I knew that you did the same for me. If by chance I do not make it back, I know that we will live happily together in the great beyond! Sending all my love, Jim"
     Sharon Sims never yearned for other swains. Too great was her grief and fear of having the same thing happening to anyone else she might be interested in. For days, weeks, months, and years she waited for Jim hoping beyond hope that the old sergeant had been wrong about Jim's dying. Her dark hair turned to grey, and where once smooth skin shone on her beautiful features, wrinkles began to appear.
     As Sharon's strength began to wane, walking becoming difficult, she knew that her time on earth was not far off. In ethereal visions late at night, as cold winds blew and frost was on the ground, Jim always returned to haunt her reveries. Yet, with all that, she still kept her promise!