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When people talk of Romeo and Juliet, no one ever talks about the pastor. How guilty he must of felt when Juliet and Romeo killed themselves, how thinking their happiness would end the feud, when it was really their deaths. How guilty he felt for giving the potion to Juliet. How guilty he felt for being involved. Or the parents, how badly they wished they could have resolved the feud earlier, to encourage the lovers, to be forgive and beg forgiveness. They wish they could do things over.
I know exactly how they feel.
. . . .
We were exactly thirteen when you guys first met. I was the reason you guys knew each other. I was the reason you first fell in love. At first, I thought it was adorable. But as time went on, problems started to show.
Fourteen was the golden age. You looked so cute in the halls of the high school. Blushing, quietly talking, even holding hands once in a while. But you were to shy to admit your feelings for the other. I coaxed you both into it. I begged you to make this relationship work. You two were perfect for each other. At the time. You listened to me. On the last day of school, you both confessed. I was so happy. I cheered loudly. I said, 'You should listen to me more often!" That was a mistake. I never should have said that.
At fifteen, I noticed you guys kissing in empty hallways and quiet classrooms. At first I thought it was a humble and shy kiss, one to show feeling, to give love. When I saw you guys kiss more, I noticed it wasn't that at all. It was a hungry kiss, a lust kiss. Neither of you gave your love, you wanted more. You both demanded more of each other. You wanted everything that came with the girlfriend-boyfriend package. I didn't want that for you. I protested. But unlike before, you wanted to keep everything quiet, everything silent. You said you were perfect for each other, just like I said. You wanted no one to know of the secret spots, the make-out post, of anything that you did privately. You swore me into secrecy. I kept my oath, I stayed silent. That was my second mistake.
When we were all sixteen, you guys hardly left each other's side. You never went anywhere without the other. The store, classes, lunch, always together. Never one without the other. I felt worried for both of you. Both of you were trapped within another. You couldn't get out of this relationship if you tried. I knew you had both lost your virginity. I knew. I didn't want that to happen. You were supposed to have the cute, blushing, shy relationship. Not the hardcore, hands-on adult relationship you did have. I wanted it to stop, but I couldn't do anything. You would both be in so much trouble if I told. Something drastic had to take place to me into telling. To shake some sense into you. And something did.
We were seventeen when we discovered she was pregnant. I begged you to tell your parents. I pleaded to get help. We were three stupid teenagers and a baby on the way. We couldn't do this ourselves. But you held me to my oath, and I stayed silent. I looked up adoptions, I called child services for you people. I wanted this baby to live. I felt as if it were as much as my baby as it was yours. I was in way over my head as much as you guys. I cried as hard as you did when the miscarriage happened.
When we were eighteen, we ran away. Dropped out of high-school and disappeared without a trace. She was six months pregnant with the second baby, it was too noticeable. I was the one who saved up the money, I was the one who drove the car. I was the one didn't want to do anything. People would know. Someone had to know about this. I couldn't keep a secret forever. We stopped at gas stations, and I would eye the phone. One quarter and this whole mess would be over with. I wouldn't be bound by your secrets. I would be free. I could've done anything I wanted. But no. I kept silent.
We were in the L.A. when the baby was born.
When you two were in the hospital room, her in labor, I quietly left to go to the bathroom. Except I didn't. I went to the desk, asked for the phone, and called her parents. And these were the exact words I said: "Hi. It's me. We're in the middle of Los Angeles and your daughter is having a baby right now."
They came in four hours. His parents and mine, too. We were all there when the baby was born. But I couldn't help but notice the eyes of all of you glaring at me for keeping silent, or for speaking out.
If you didn't want me to do either, which one did you want me to do?
It was next year, when we were nineteen that I first heard word that she had killed herself. Why? Because she had to give up her baby because I told her parents. We were going to stay on the run with the baby. We would've been happy, you said. If I hadn't gone and ruined it all. I was the reason she killed herself, and way he went criminal, stealing cars and money until he killed a man during the robbery. He was sentenced to death. I had killed both of you.
Now I stand at your graves. I laid flowers on both of them, buried side by side. Did you know that my brother-in-law's family adopted your baby? Did you even know I was married? Did you know I named my first daughter after her? Did you know that your deaths haunted me for the rest of my life?
If I had kept quiet while we were on the run, I would've saved both of you. We would barely scrape by, but we'd make it. She would've had her baby, he would've obeyed the law. I would've never met my husband, had my own children, or even get to live my own life because I was so busy covering for you.
I'm so selfish.
But if I had spoken out when we were young, when you first started kissing, maybe I could've saved us. I could've rescued you two and lived my own life. But you would've left me, hated me, leave me to die in an alleyway if I was hurt if I told. You would think I was a squealer, and no one else would befriend me for fear I would've given away their secrets. But you both would've lived. I would just be in torture for four years. I would only have to make that sacrifice.
How could I have let this happen? It's all my fault. It's all my fault. I wish I could do it over. I'd stay quiet, I'd tell, I would've never urged you to confess, never even introduce you two to each other if I knew it would turn out like this. I thought it would be for the best.
See, when people talk about doomed star-crossed lovers, they never talk about the pastor, who sealed their deaths, or the parents, who wished they could turn back time and make things right.
I know exactly how it feel. Because I'm not the lover. I'm not the parents. I'm not the pastor.
I was just a stupid teenager caught in the middle.