A Romeo and Juliet Story

October 5, 2008
Romeo and Juliet- my worst nightmare.

Well, technically, it wasn’t- until now. Now that I, Maxine Simons, had to be Juliet. And not until now, the Friday before I had to stage kiss “Romeo” during rehearsal in front of the whole cast. To put it simply, I was absolutely terrified. This was the first time I had ever been cast a main role, probably because most of the school plays are musicals, and my singing voice is only average.

I was shoving my stuff from my locker into my backpack that Friday, when he approached. Adam Jockey walked towards me, full of purpose. I wish I could pull off such a confident air. The only time I ever felt confident was on stage, when all I had to do was repeat lines someone
had already written.

I smiled in his direction. Adam and I had become pretty good friends since we met at the first rehearsal. Until then I didn’t even really know that he had existed. It was a good thing that we got along so well, for he was Romeo. I did sort of have a crush on him too- which only made kissing him that more frightening.

“Hey,” He said when he got close enough for me to hear him, “Good rehearsal, huh?”

“Yeah,” I replied, and then frowned when my voice didn’t come out as strong as I’d wanted it to.

“Nervous about the kiss scene,” he said, and it wasn’t a question. He grinned at me, completely at ease. “Don’t sweat it. Just remember to lean left so we don’t bump noses.” I laughed weakly. He winked and I almost melted. Suddenly, he was a bit more serious. “I know that this is kinda last minute, but,” he paused, weighing. “I wanted to know if… if you
might want to go see a movie tonight. With me. At seven-ish?” He was definitely nervous now.

“Like a date?” I asked, confused and bewildered.

He smiled sheepishly, dodging my glance. “Something like that…”

“Um, yes?” I felt as if I was admitting a dark secret.

“Cool.” He said. And sauntered away.

Later, at seven fifteen, I met Adam at the movie theater, wearing my best I-look-cute-without-even-trying outfit and just a bit of lip gloss for the occasion. Adam looked adorable, as always. He was wearing a red collared shirt that made his green eyes stand out. His dirty blonde hair was just a little less messy than usual. When we noticed each
other, I smiled hesitantly and then my heart gave a little squeeze when he grinned brightly. I walked towards him slowly, fingering a strand of my curly red-brown hair.

The movie was actually pretty good. It was a romantic comedy, but mostly just comedy. I was glad it was dark so Adam couldn’t see me blush during the kissing scene. I let my eyes wander over towards his face, and he was looking at me apologetically- he knew the kissing was a bit awkward for me. Then I felt his hand touching mine.

Embarrassingly, I jumped. His hand didn’t pull back though, so I moved mine closer. “Sorry,” I whispered, “I’m new at this.” His grin just got bigger.

At the end of the movie, while everyone started filing out, I heard Adam yawn audibly, and his arm became conspicuously draped across my shoulder. I looked at him and raised an eyebrow, suppressing my urge to giggle.

“I thought that I would try out the technique,” he said, completely serious and in a defensive tone directed at the look I had given him. I couldn’t help it- I completely cracked up. I laughed at him until his serious face cracked a smile and he chuckled as well. He then grabbed my hand an half dragged me out of the theater.

We walked outside and sat down on a bench next to the door. I hugged myself; the September nights were becoming cooler and fall was barely here. I frowned. I didn’t enjoy the aspect of summer ending.

“Max?” His voice was soft, hesitant, and gentle.

My palms began to sweat at the tone of his voice. I looked over at him. I could tell that he was debating with himself. He bit his lip and leaned towards me.

OHMYGOD. He was going to kiss me!

I realized that I was holding my breath. I took a breath to steady my nerves, but nothing happened.

Wait a minute…


I tried again. Nothing. I was breathing. Wasn’t I? The air was going in and out of my lungs, but I wasn’t breathing!

I turned to grab my purse, only it wasn’t there. I jumped up, searching frantically, gasping and choking. Adam just stared, startled, unsure what to do. “Are you alright?!” He asked, his voice shaking, but I barely heard him. I could only plead with wide frightened eyes. It finally registered that I was looking for my purse. He went halfway through the door, yelled something, then came back out and sat me down. I leaned back against the back of the bench with my eyes squeezed
tightly shut. I felt like I was drowning on land.

Five minutes later- or maybe five hours…? At some point I heard the siren of an ambulance in the distance. Someone shoved my purse into my lap and put my inhaler in my hand. I weakly put it to my mouth, pressed the top, and inhaled. The relief was instant. I realized that someone was
holding my hand. I opened my eyes to see that it was Adam- he was still there. He was murmuring words of comfort and I noticed that I was trembling. I was also breathing heavily and my chest hurt. Sweat pasted curls of my hair to my forehead. I must look terrible, I thought, but I
was too tired to really care. The ambulance was getting closer.

I let out a shaky sigh and let my head lean against the bench; only the
bench was oddly soft and was shaking almost as much as I was. It was Adam. The ambulance was here, but I let my eyes slip closed anyway. Car doors slammed and firm, but gentle hands helped me up off of the bench. As soon as I was standing, I started to refuse more help, but stopped when I realized how dizzy I was. I was loaded into the back of the ambulance, noticing people with camera phones.

“Get a life!” I tried to shout, but my voice came out as a hoarse whisper. The paramedics ask me a bunch of questions like how long I have had asthma and how long it had taken me to get my inhaler. I answered as many as I could, but my voice was practically diminished.

The rest of the night was filled with flashing lights, worried faces, hurried nurses, and the emergency room. In the midst of it all, I fell into a dreamless sleep.

When I awoke I was in my room. I couldn’t exactly remember how I’d gotten there. My throat was sore and I felt dehydrated. The digital clock on my nightstand said 10:00 am. I had slept all night and it was now Saturday. The night before flooded back to me. Now that the terrifying event was over, I had time to feel embarrassed.

I buried my head underneath my blue and green striped blanket. I had a good idea of what would happen on Monday. Everyone would ask me about the asthma attack (they would all somehow find out) and make sure that I was ok, and then the rumors would start. Those jerks that everyone has at their school would say something like I had faked it, just so I
wouldn’t have to kiss Adam. I would probably become a laughing stock for a week or two and then hopefully it would pass.

I heard my door open and shut quietly. I uncovered my head and looked up to see that it was my mom. “Oh, you’re awake,” she said softly, and sat at the edge of my bed. She handed me a glass of water and I drank deeply. “Rough night, huh sweetie?”

“Mom,” I pleaded, “Could we just not talk about it?”

My mother sighed. “Sure honey,” she said and patted my knee. I could tell that I had made her worry and instantly felt guilty.

“Relax mom, I’m fine,” I assured her.

She smiled weakly, “I know,” And she left the room.

The only good part of the weekend was that I got to pick what we had for dinner both nights. This disgruntled my brother, Kyle, greatly, for my favorite meal was macaroni- his least favorite- and I requested this both nights. When he complained to my dad, Dad only chuckled good

Then Monday came. The first half of the day wasn’t too bad. Everyone already knew, of course. They were just making sure that I was alright. I assured them, like my mom, that I was perfectly fine; my voice was even fully back. Not soon after lunch, though, I began the phase where I would approach a group of chatting people, only to find that they would cut off whatever they were saying as soon as I got close enough to hear what they were talking about- which was obviously me.

I attempted to avoid Adam, which did work for the most part. I only saw him twice during the school day. Once for geometry (in which I tried not to make eye contact) and once on complete accident. I was in the nurse’s office taking my daily asthma meds. Then someone
came in behind me. I winced as the medication from the inhaler hit my tongue. It tastes like hairspray.

I turned after giving the inhaler back to the nurse and saw Adam. He was sitting next to a slightly green looking kid, but he was looking at me. I dropped my eyes quickly to the floor, and then slipped quickly out the door. I hurry down the hall and hear him follow me shouting ‘Max!’ but I took a quick detour into the girls’ bathroom.

The rehearsal was the part of the day I dreaded most. I couldn’t avoid Adam anymore, and he knew it as well. He was waiting inside the auditorium door. I stopped for him, reluctantly, staring at my feet awkwardly, twirling a piece of my hair around my finger.

“Are you alright?”

The tone of his voice surprised me. I looked up, startled. His green eyes were filled with concern. Concern for me.

“Yeah,” I said shyly, “Aren’t you mad? I mean… it’s just- I’m sorry I ruined the date.” I finished lamely, blushing and looking down again.

It was his turn to be surprised. “Sorry? It wasn’t your fault. It was just something that happened. You know… no big deal. Well, I guess it was kind of a big deal… you scared me. I didn’t know what to do and…” the words just kept coming and coming. “It actually did occur to me
that it might be serious, or something.” We both knew what he really meant. Some times very serious asthma attacks could be fatal. He gave me a small smile, trying to get away from the morbid subject. “You know, the overall date wasn’t that bad. It started pretty well. You did
beat me in air hockey before the movie.”

I allowed myself a quick grin. “Well, Romeo could use some work on his arcade game skills,” I told him slyly, and we walked side by side onto the stage.

Several Shakespearian phrases later, “Romeo” and I were standing on Juliet’s balcony. The rest of the student cast was in the seats, staring at us expectantly. He leaned towards me. I gulped. My heart beat faster. The bright stage lights made me sweat in my jeans and T-shirt. Adam’s breath smelled like wintergreen- he had been chewing gum. Our faces were inches apart, so that all I could see was him. I took a breath to steady myself. My lungs filled with oxygen and the scent of him.

Still, I couldn’t help but hesitate. Well, I guess it was more of a pause.

The boy in front of me wasn’t Romeo, and I wasn’t Juliet. I was just Maxine (well, Max to most) - a girl who usually dressed in jeans, who had asthma, who listened to classic rock on her iPod as she walked home from school; and he was just Adam – the boy who I knew and trusted, who had stayed by my side when I had needed him, who maybe even liked me as much as I liked him (you know, as in the “like” that is usually followed with holding hands and a first date, and eventually a first kiss). We weren’t Romeo and Juliet, but the funny thing was, I realized, that I honestly didn’t see the difference. We were as inexperienced with love as they were; are willing to take risks for each other, as they were; and are in silly teen love, just like them.

So I paused, really comprehending that this might be Romeo and Juliet’s first kiss, but it was also mine. I couldn’t believe how amazed I was by this simple fact.

“Don’t worry Maxi! We’ll get the nurse if you “flip out” again!” A boy from our small audience jeered. It was plain that he thought I had faked last Friday.

Adam froze. Then he whipped his head around and shouted fiercely, “Shut up, Jordan!” He turned back around and looked into my eyes. His said ‘this is it’. I’m sure mine said ‘I’m ready’ because when he slowly leaned forward I did the same.

I think that’s about where the kissing came in.

He pulled me to him. He rested one hand on the small of my back and the other was shaped around my cheek. At that point our lips just barely touched. One of my palms was against his chest, the other resting on his shoulder. I could feel his heart beating.


I remembered to count like the director told me, as my eyes closed as I gave in to the kiss itself.


I realized he was enjoying this as much as I was. He had been anticipating the moment, just like me. His heart beat faster.


We slowly broke apart. I was a bit dizzy, but he still held me close.

“Wow,” I murmured, short of breath.

“Thanks,” he whispered, taking my dazed statement as a compliment. I was surprised that he was breathless too. “I kinda got some pointers from my brother.”

I giggled softly and smiled faintly, finally grasping that he would be there for me, as long as I needed him to be. You know, I never noticed how much could be gained and lost in three seconds. I had found confidence, friendship, compassion, closeness, and some pretty sweet
teen romance and left my worry of the past and future, embarrassment, and awkwardness behind.

As for the over-all kiss:

It wasn’t half bad.

Join the Discussion

This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

alexandro c. said...
Apr. 23, 2009 at 11:28 pm
some think any about story
Lil' Ab said...
Oct. 7, 2008 at 10:02 pm
I love this story.
Tam426 said...
Oct. 7, 2008 at 7:37 pm
I LOVE IT! Great job! It made me laugh and held my interest until I got to the end, I had to see how it was going to end. Wonderful!
Sonny123 said...
Oct. 6, 2008 at 10:03 pm
I thought that this story was exceptionally well written. I looked forward to each of the paragraphs as it was related to everyday life expectancies. I was glued to the story in its entirity. Very well written.
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