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“Juliet, don’t be stupid, please! This will end the feud. There will be no violence. All will be peace in between our families.”
I stared at my mother in horror. How could she even suggest that I talk to one of them, let alone marry one of them. A…I could barely even bring myself to say the word… Montague.
“Think of the peace it will bring!”
“Can’t you find someone else? Anyone? Elizabeth would be happy to marry anyone if he looked alright.”
I watched as my mother’s face became more distant. I knew I wasn’t making any sense, but she didn’t know that I loved someone else. Someone who was a servant. Therefore, out of my mother’s radar.
“Juliet Capulet. You will not argue any more with me or your father. Do you understand?” She looked like she meant it.
I nodded, and immediately began scheming for an elope.
“Juliet, is that you?”
“Yes, Anthony, I am here.” The love of my life stepped around the corner of the barn and reached towards me, but I stepped out of the way. I didn’t want to be distracted from the mission.
“Anthony, no. I have bad news.”
Anthony stepped back and looked me over. “You look like you have bad news. What’s the matter, darling?”
I shuddered at the use of my nickname. Shuddered at the thought that this might be the last time I heard it. “My mother’s making me get married. To a Montague.”
Anthony jumped as if burned. “A Montague? What is she thinking? He might want to kill you or something. They’re dangerous, Juliet. You can’t marry him.”
“I know. I…I want…I want to elope.” If the look on his face of shock mixed with horror wasn’t enough to bring tears to my eyes, a knife to my heart and make my whole world spin, his words would only made the wounds deeper.
“Juliet, don’t you think that’s being a little…rash?”
My eyes stung and my cheeks burned. “Oh,” I said with a derisive laugh. “So now, when it inconveniences you, then it’s okay if I marry a Montague. You were the one just saying that I couldn’t do that!” I took a calming breath to regain my composure. I was a Capulet. He was nothing but a servant. A servant who stole my heart and wouldn’t give it back. “I understand. Good day.” I stepped smartly away from him and his dumbstruck face, glad that my back was to him so he couldn’t see the tears making silvery tracks down my face.
It was later that day that I met him. Romeo, that is. He was fine, I suppose. He looked completely miserable, which somehow made me feel better about the whole thing. We were in the same boat, so to speak. The unsettling thing about him, though, was that he bore a striking resemblance to Anthony.
Our parents seemed to be having a great time, though. Talking, trying to show the two of us at our best angles, saying oh, Madam Romeo’s Mother, how much trouble it was to do Juliet’s hair in the morning, but wasn’t it worth it? And, oh, of course it was, but Romeo’s clothes ripped and they had to get a new set, did mother think they were better than the old ones?
I soon tired of the ridiculous small talk and began gazing pointlessly around the room. It didn’t take too long to realize that Romeo seemed to be doing the same. He smiled weakly at me and gestured with his head to the door. I nodded, relieved, and excused myself from the table. My mother and Romeo’s mother were so busy talking, I doubted they even knew we were leaving.
“So,” said Romeo once we were in the garden. “All this…over a marriage?” He tried a weak laugh. I knew something was bothering him, and I didn’t even know him, for heaven’s sake.
“Were you planning on marrying someone else?” I asked, the words slipping out of my mouth before I even knew what I was saying.
He looked at me a little funny. “No, but I didn’t want to be tied down. I wanted to go and see the world, and then settle down with a family. I’m too restless for all this romantic stuff.”
I looked at him. Was it possible that my mother wanted me to marry myself? This boy had almost the same dream I did. “I would love that as well. I was…stupid only a few days ago and was planning something I’m sure that I would have regretted.”
I hesitated. Oh, what did it matter? “I was planning on eloping with a boy who I was in love with. He, apparently, didn’t feel as strongly as I did about our feelings. I’m glad I didn’t, though.”
Romeo’s eyes lit up like a child’s on Christmas. “We could run away together!”
I stared at him. Mmhmm. Yeah, he was no longer like me. “Umm, I thought that’s what we didn’t want to do, what we were escaping from.”
He shook his head and laughed. “No, no, no. That’s not what I meant. We would run away together, but not together, get it?”
I didn’t get it.
“Look, you traveling alone, by yourself, would be dangerous and silly. People would question you and you’d probably end up right back here. But…if you went with me, people would assume that we were together, and no questions asked. We’d split up when we wanted to, and then presto! We’re our own people.”
I bit my lip. It could almost work. Almost.
A tapping at my window woke me up from a deep sleep. I sat up, startled, just in time to see a rock bounce off the window. I knew who it was. Stupid idiot. He’s gonna break the window!
“Romeo!” I hissed. “If I have a broken window, my parents are definitely going to know that something is up.”
“Sorry, Jules. I have what we need.”
My heart started racing. Romeo had devised a terrifying plan. At least for me, anyway. He found this potion that made it seem like the drinker was dead. Then, once I was safe and alone, Romeo would come and let me out and we would escape.
This plan scared me. What if I didn’t wake up? What if Romeo was too late and they buried me alive? What if Anthony found out? Funny. At the mention of his name, I still feel this heart wrenching pain. I wish things had turned out differently. That was a reason I didn’t want to come back any time soon. I couldn’t bear it if I watched him marry some servant girl. It would kill me.
“Toss it up!” I whispered down to Romeo. “I’ll take it tonight, so make sure you get me out before they bury me.”
“Romeo…” I stopped. How were you supposed to explain something like this. “Romeo, I have to trust you. My whole life is in your hands. Don’t…” I couldn’t finish the sentence. The more I thought about it, the more likely I was to throw the potion back down to Romeo and shout ‘Fat chance’.
“Don’t worry, Jules. I won’t let you down.” He threw the potion up. It landed on the balcony with ease. I grabbed it.
“Here goes nothing,” I said, and drained the potion in one gulp. I felt normal. I wondered if the potion worked, and then, I was in some sort of box and someone had a knife to my throat.
Well, then. I guess the potion worked, now it was a question of where the heck I was and why some guy was about to kill me.
So I screamed. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the best plan, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Where the heck was Romeo?
The man jumped..
“What are you doing?”
The man looked guilty, but only a little. I looked around briefly and noticed a dead body lying on the floor. A body with tousled black hair. Romeo!
“You killed Romeo!”
“He does look just like Romeo, doesn’t he? But no, that’s your stable boy. He was so upset when he found out you were dead.”
I was stunned. Couldn’t breath. “A-Anthony?” He died because he thought I died?
“Everyone thought you were dead, but I knew otherwise.” He seemed to be trying to explain himself, as if he felt guilty.
An idea of dawning comprehension filled my brain. As much as I hated to say it, Anthony being dead could be used to my advantage.
“Can you make sure everyone thinks that’s Romeo?” I asked him, pointing without looking to Anthony.
“It would make Romeo happy.”
“Are you sure?” he asked, his voice skeptical. “He thought you were dead, too.”
My world plummeted. “Wait, but we were going to escape…the sleeping potion…Anthony…”
He laughed. “He didn’t want to marry you at all. His love was Rosalie. You being dead was the only way to get her. He told me to come down here to make sure you were dead. He and Rosalie are going to elope.”
My head spun. I had been betrayed by everyone I ever loved. My parents. Anthony. Now Romeo. Romeo tried to poison me.
I took a deep breath. “Tell everyone that Anthony is Romeo. Tell Romeo and Rosalie to elope if that’s what they want. Someone, at least, should get a happy ending.
“Oh, and tell the story like this. Romeo and I were hopelessly in love, but we thought that our parents were cancelling the marriage. So we came up with the sleeping potion plan but then, Romeo thought I was really dead, so he killed himself and I saw him dead and killed myself.”
The man looked completely bemused.
With a shudder, I snatched the knife out of his hands. My parents betraying me had been hard. Anthony’s betrayal had been worse. But Romeo…Romeo was the final straw. I hoped, at least, that he would be happy. “Goodbye.” And I sent the knife flying into my own heart.
Romeo smiled at his new bride as they sailed the ocean. Rosalie smiled back. He couldn’t seem to take his eyes off of her.
And yet…there was just that feeling of overwhelming guilt. He had tried to kill Juliet. After she trusted him with her life, he tried to kill her. And then, she gave him what he wanted most in the world. Benevolio told him the whole story.
Surprisingly, Romeo was okay with the whole world thinking that he loved Juliet. What wasn’t to like about her, anyway? A rush of feelings told Romeo he had done the wrong thing. He loved Juliet. What had he done?