The Life of William Shakespeare

February 7, 2012
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“…For never was a story of more woe than Juliet and her Romeo.”
“Thank you, Will for that interesting take on lessons of the heart using your own classmates as inspiration,” said Mr. Lear.
I looked up from the papers clutched in my hands as I stood in front of the class. I could see Mercutio Verona and his cousin Paris in the back of the classroom snickering and shooting glances towards Mercutio’s cousin. My eyes followed the direction of their gaze and were met with the sight of a livid Romeo Montague. Our eyes met. I watched as Romeo bit his thumb and then run the single finger across his neck, starring directly into my eyes while mouthing “You’re dead loser”. I felt myself shiver. At only seventeen years old, I knew had a mere twenty minutes before my death.
“Mr. Lear, I do not appreciate being called a tease by Shakespeare,” whined Rosaline. “And what is with his messed up stories anyways? God he’s like so emo!” Her nasally voice broke through my musings of impending death. While I had begun the process of accepting my possible new position as a member of the walking dead, the entire class found themselves discussing my collection of “messed up stories” as Rosaline so nicely put it. My silent screams of imminent death at the hands of Romeo intensified with the addition of a reputation sinking below the status of even the Goths and the nerds. If Romeo didn’t kill me, social suicide was most definitely capable of killing the walking dead and keeping us dead. All of this occurred as I continued to stand on display in front of the entire classroom.
“William, you may take your seat now,” droned Mr. Lear. “Rosaline, please refrain from any further outbursts, as Mr. Shakespeare is clearly expressing artistic license. If you actually paid attention once in my class you might learn something educational from this assignment rather than your apparent ability to be a tease.”
Rosaline said nothing to Mr. Lear’s biting remark but instead her eyes fixed on me with a scathing glare promising excruciating pain. She and her posse called “Ladies in Waiting” ruled Queens Men Preparatory, along with Romeo and his jock cronies, like an Iron Maiden. Usually Rosaline was satisfied with the sight of her victim’s tears, but clearly only the sight of my blood would probably do this time. It seemed the world hated me more than even Hamlet Danes, and he was cursed with the unfortunate luck to be the only Goth who clearly could not pull off his own wardrobe of black; it might have to do with the red hair. Death by poison or even a swim in the school’s pool where I accidently never came up for air looked more and more appealing compared to the fate which awaited me after English class.
I walked back to my seat with my eyes focused on the floor. I did not want to risk making eye contact any of the other people in the room who clearly hated me too. As you might already guess, I’m not the most popular kid in school, in fact I’m pretty much considered a geek and that’s putting it lightly. You see that kid I mentioned before, Romeo Montague, he and I used to be best friends; until I made the error of joining the drama club freshman year. As is in any high school movie the drama geeks and the jocks, well, they don’t associate with one another. Pretty soon Romeo wouldn’t even say hi to me in the hall way as his popularity and chances of getting with the resident flirt, Rosaline, increased. I sat down in my seat, but glanced over to see my ex-best friend talking to his other cousin Benvolio Montague. Both of them stopped their conversation when they saw me looking their way. The look on Romeo’s face was murderous, but Benvolio gave me a sheepish smile of comfort despite his cousin and best friend’s obvious anger. Mr. Lear who had still been standing made his way back to his desk to look for his speaker’s list to announce the next person to present. In his haste to search for the list, he knocked papers and folders strewn across his desk and had to stop from calling the next speaker in order to bend down to collect the things now on the floor. Lately, the guy hasn’t been fairing so well. Instead of his usual demanding personality; he’s become quite forgetful and easily confused. At times he’d go off on long winded tangents down memory lane of his heroic army days or stories of his three daughters. Clearly this change in attitude was questionable, but who were we to complain when a test on Dante’s Inferno went forgotten. Thus our recent assignment actually came as a surprise when he requested we write a collection of stories based on a central lesson using real life objects or people as components. However, the choice I made by using my classmates and various people I knew in the school might not have been the greatest decision in hindsight. Maybe it would not have been the best idea to kill off Romeo as an impulsive idiot, or let gullible lovesick Ophelia Polonius drown herself. It wasn’t my fault that I just happened to see these traits in the people they were created from, or the fact that it was my civic duty to geeks everywhere to smear the names of people who made the lives of us losers miserable. As Mr. Lear said I had “artistic license”. Except Romeo, Rosaline, and pretty much the entire class now had a license to kill me.
Once Mr. Lear finally got everything situated, he called Juliet Capulet as the next speaker. I could hear Juliet scoff while I had read the introduction of her character in my story. This was probably because she hated Romeo and the fact that she was a raging feminist. The idea of the school’s star basket player and the president of the science club falling for one another she found laughable let alone either of them willing to die for this love. I had only made her and Romeo fall in love in my story primarily as a jab to Romeo. I still remembered the crush he had harbored for her when we younger. Romeo had confessed his undying love to Juliet in fifth grade on the playground. However, instead of a happily ever after outcome, Romeo received a punch to the face by Juliet’s overprotective cousin, Tybalt, who had overheard the confession. Guess I was the only one to find the memory worthy of an epic love story. Juliet stood in front of the class and began her story, but I soon tuned her voice. Her story had turned to her usual expressions of sentimental feelings and the internal struggle of the female mind. I found myself zoning out like the rest of the class for only Abigail Nurse and Hamlet paid any attention to Juliet; who seemed to be talking only to herself. Horatio Wittenburg and the twins Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, too polite to blatantly show disinterest, listened as well. They were too used to humoring their best friend Hamlet during his own emotional upheavals. My thoughts returned to my own internal struggle as I strategized how I could survive a beat down after this period by possibly hiding in the Globe Theatre. My eyes searched for the clock mounted on the wall. Three minutes until the end of the period. Three precious minutes of sweet, sweet life left to my soul. Each passing second was echoed by Juliet’s words of forever, love, and friendship all of which I did not have time for or had any longer use of. All too soon it happened, the worst thing to happen since the Ides of March. BEEP BEEP BEEP. The bell had rung.
“All right, class dismissed,” said Mr. Lear. “We will continue presentations tomorrow.”
I sat in my seat thinking there would be no tomorrow for me. I watched students begin to make their way out of the door happy to leave torturous English class, while I mourned as only sanctuary was ripped away from me. Mr. Lear packed his things and soon exited as well; the new period was his prep time where he would go the teacher’s lounge. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Romeo and his cousins leaving as well, but Romeo stopped in the doorframe telling the rest of his group he would be with them shortly. Finally, I was alone with the one person I wished desperately would spare my insignificant life to the gods by the off chance he was feeling merciful.
“You know, I’m expected to beat you up right?”Romeo said.
I looked at him as he spoke.
“Right,” I feebly croaked.
“But, you know what?” he continued.
“I’m not going to,” Romeo said. Now I felt taken for a ride. I was confused by what could possibly prevent him from beating me into a bloody pulp. His response to my inner question however surprised me.
“Because you’ve been sleeping in my class again Mr. Shakespeare.”
I woke up with a start. My desk was slightly covered in drool where my face had been pressed against the wood, and my bleary eyes tried to focus on Mr. Lear who stood hovering over me. The entire class was laughing at this point as I probably didn’t look any more ridiculous than my usual bed ridden appearance.
“I’m sorry Mr. Lear,” I absently recited, my response daily to my English teacher.

“See that it doesn’t happen again,” he sighed. Mr. Lear made his way back to the front of his room to continue the lesson where he had left off. I looked after him, but scanned the other faces in the room until I spotted the one face I was looking for. Romeo Montague was staring out the window at this time, but when he felt my eyes on him he turned around. Our eyes met and I smiled. He turned around and ignored my presence once again without as much as a sign of acknowledgement to my existence. Who would have thought there be a day I’d happy to have Romeo ignore me like his usual self. It didn’t matter to me though, because I was too overjoyed to be alive and not six feet under. As I turned my attention back to Mr. Lear I wondered why I even had a dream about death, presentations, and a desire for Danish pastry. I had the feeling I was forgetting something important, but just could not remember. A movement in the front of the classroom caught my attention, and I found myself looking at my English teacher once again.
“Mr. Shakespeare would you like to finally present your paper to the class now that you have decided to return to the land of the living?” asked Mr. Lear.
Oh! I’m officially dead!

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