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Robert and Julian
Romeo and “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.”( Romeo and Juliet, 2.2.139-41). I envied Juliet, not for her deeply romantic fairytale love, but for her bravery in not wanting to live without her Romeo. She took her own life to be with him in the afterlife. After reading Shakespeare’s play during eighth grade winter break I would catch myself wondering whether I would have taken that dagger for my true love. I couldn’t possibly decide. My thoughts were torn. My family needed me, but I would need him. Was love a death sentence? These were just thoughts that popped into a thirteen-year-old’s naive mind; nothing out of the ordinary until September 24th. I would live the same destiny as Juliet. When I told him forever, I meant it.
Westfield High was a big boarding school with a diverse crowd, but no one had an opinion here. The teachers told us what to think and when to think. As far as I could remember we would be scolded or beaten for speaking our minds or not following school policies. Every day blended into the next. It was a mob of blue and red uniforms that had to be pressed and polished every day, no excuses. Change was not welcomed in our school. It was looked down upon by the board of education. Each summer we would all spend days locked in summer camps, learning the ways of the world, nothing too fascinating. No new students transferred to our school, so I spent most of my life with the same faces and same friends. I prayed every night for my parents to come and pick me up. I wrote them letters, sent them emails, even tried calling, but it was useless. Here all communication was intercepted by the board. The board is the head of my school, and its members make all the rules. To earn yourself a ticket here you must have done something bad, unless you’re the deans’ niece, which in my case I was. My parents were sick of my teenage “rebellious” ways, so they shipped me here to learn a life’s lesson. Pathetic. My room was tiny, circular, with one window and a twin bed. That was it. There were no TV’s, no books, no markers to color with. Nothing. Simple and boring are the only two words to describe this school and the people that filled it.
It is my last year at Westfield High, and then I am off to do whatever I may please. I want to be a vet. Animals are not allowed in the school but some mornings I would sneak out of my window and observe the wildlife, hoping not to get caught. Animals always amused me because they are free to roam wherever they wanted, whereas I was stuck, caged up, waiting to roam free as well. Nobody at Westfield High interested me. No one shared a passion for animals, and no one really had a personality. I know the world around us, the world beyond this school, but most of these kids grew up in here. I do have this one friend named Sheena who had given me a copy to the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet in eighth grade. She was the one of the few people here who had actually experienced the real world. Her parents came to get her once, and I never heard from her again. Romeo and Juliet was banned from this school, but I did not care. I read it every night, and it helped me through the roughest of times. I idolized Juliet. Even though she wasn’t real, I admired her brave spirit and her rebellion against her father’s negative opinion of Romeo. This school could tell me whatever they wanted, but they were never going to change my mind. I was determined to leave and find my Romeo. He was out there somewhere. Of this I was sure, or maybe he wasn’t. Once I found him, I would not obsess over him. I would just love him every day for the rest of our lives.
Summer was soon ending for my last year was here. I wanted this year to be different considering it was my senior year, but it felt the same as any other year. One night I climbed out my window just before the first sliver of moon began to shine. With my Romeo and Juliet book in my hand, I headed towards the brook with the weeping willow tree. I could sit out here for hours reading my book and day dreaming of possibilities. The stream was soothing to my ears. This secret place became my own special hideout. I read out loud to myself most of time, pretending to act out the parts. That night I laid my head down on the plump moss and began to stare at the abundance of stars that seemed to be painted on the sky. “Do not swear by the moon, for she changes constant. Then your love would also change.” (Romeo and Juliet). I read this line out loud while I stared at the waning moon wondering what Shakespeare had meant by this. Juliet’s love never changed, so the line puzzled me. At that very second a shooting star glistened, and I made a wish. I wished to find the same happiness as Juliet found when she met Romeo. I fell fast asleep on the moss underneath the picturesque stars dreaming about the next day.
The tapping noise of a wood pecker woke me up. Thankfully it was still early, and classes hadn’t begun yet. I just had time to make it back to my room and remove the blades of grass that knotted in my hair.
I was in such a rush that I tripped over a tree root sending my bag flying with my Romeo and Juliet book sailing through the air and barely missing a puddle of mud when it landed. Before anyone could see I grabbed my purse and went to pick my book up when I noticed it was not there. I had just seen it a second ago. A clearing of the throat sounded behind me. I froze not wanting to face a teacher and explain to them why I had a banned book. My body was paralyzed in the same position until I heard the noise again. I turned around, surprised at what I saw. A tall lanky boy with auburn hair, jet black eyes, and a crooked smile leaned up against a tree flipping through the pages of my book. My mouth was wide open. I was mesmerized.
“One fire burns out another's burning, One pain is lessened by another's anguish.” His voice echoed in my ears. It was a deep British accent that had me in awe. It took me awhile to realize he had just quoted a part of the book, plus I had never seen him before.
“Excuse me?” I said puzzled by his beautiful features. He extended his hand toward me handing me back the book.
“I was quoting Shakespeare. I see you’re a rule breaker huh? They told me I wasn’t allowed to bring anything. I guess you overlooked that.” He flashed me a crooked smile, and it made my stomach tingle. My heart was racing. He must be new here. Maybe this was my wish coming true. I ran my hand fast through my hair trying to brush out the pieces of grass.
“I know you did. It’s my favorite book, and what can I say, they can’t dictate everything we do. I’m Julian by the way. You must be new here?” I was trying to be a polite as possible without gawking at him, but I couldn’t help myself because his face was perfectly chiseled.
“Romeo and Juliet was one of Shakespeare’s best works. I have the rest of his pieces in my library at home. He was a very talented man, but anyway my name is Robert. I just transferred here from Wales. My parents both recently passed, so I am staying with my uncle who is teacher here. So far I haven’t met anyone with a smile as pretty as yours, if you don’t mind me saying.” I could feel my cheeks grow warm. Was I blushing? I’ve never blushed before. Yet again, no one has ever given me a reason to. This year had already started of pretty good. He was into Shakespeare. No one else here even knew who Shakespeare was.
“It’s nice to meet you Robert I’m Julian. I transferred here about five years ago from Staunton, Virginia. My uncle is the dean. I’m sorry for your loss. It must be hard.” I felt sympathy for him, but I felt this connection between us as well.
“I am dealing with it every day but it’s a new start. So where can I get a decent bite to eat around here before my first class. Any suggestions?” The wind blew his tousled hair around. I took a deep breath in. I inhaled a gust of musky cologne. My throat began to swell. My palms began to sweat until…Snap out of it Julian. He asked you a question!
“Oh um the café has some pretty good Pop Tarts. They’re not gourmet, but they aren’t deadly either.” He laughed at my honesty. It was a sweet kind of laugh that made me smile as well.
“Thank you very much. Would you care to join for a so called Pop Tart?” Class started in a half hour, and I still needed to get ready. I wanted to scream “yes,” but I had to say “no”.
“I can’t. I’m sorry. Classes for me start soon, but I’ll take a rain check if you don’t mind.” I smiled at him exposing my dimples, and he smiled back. He moved forward so that our bodies were just inches apart. My heart began racing until he spoke.
“I will see you soon for that rain check.” He gave me one last smile and turned toward the café.
What had just happened? I wanted to ask him when the rain check would be, but I had to run back to the room and get ready. I thought about him all day long wondering more about him. What were his hobbies? Where has he traveled? What’s his favorite color even? There were so many things I wanted to know about him yet I felt as if I had already known him.
Ever since that day Robert and I would meet at the willow. He would read me his favorite parts of Romeo and Juliet and I would read mine. We grew closer and closer until one night, after we had spent the entire night talking about our goal to travel to Italy, he walked me back to my room. I had turned to open my door, and when I went to say goodbye he placed his right hand gently on my cheek. In the softest voice he whispered to me “Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.” ( R&J) I stared straight into his dark eyes, and suddenly his lips were on mine. They fit perfectly together. I did not want them to part. After that night we stayed steady, falling more and more in love each day. He would tell me all about his hopes for the future and his goals in life. The year went by fast and was soon ending. Graduation was coming upon us abruptly, and we had begun planning our lives together.
I knew I loved him and I knew he loved me. I could tell by the look in his eyes and the feeling I got in the core of my stomach. It was true love. The night before graduation we were lying on my bed cuddling like our typical nights, except this night wasn’t the same. He spoke to me kindly hiding behind his sweet words.
“Sweetheart, I’ve been meaning to tell you something very important but you have to promise to not freak out. Okay love?” I was dumbfounded by the change in his voice. My stomach began to knot, and all I could manage was a nod.
“My uncle wants me to marry his friend’s daughter back in Wales because he is losing his job and her family is rich. I love you Julian, and I will not marry her.” I was shocked. This wasn’t what I was expecting at all. My thoughts became jumbled and hazy as the room began to spin. Robert grabbed me, holding me tight, and noticing that a tear fell from my eye.
“We cannot stop this Robert. You are going to have to marry her. I have no money to offer you.” I buried my face into his chest sobbing until I could reason with the situation.
He ran his fingers through my hair as I explained to him a plan. “What if after the graduation we run away together to Italy? We both have enough money to get there and live off of for some time until one of us gets a job. What do you think love?” He smiled a crooked smile at me, and I knew that meant yes.
“I knew I loved you from the second I met you. I would run away anywhere with you, and I think that is a great idea. We will start packing tonight” Robert kissed my forehead and we feel asleep together waiting for the big graduation day.
All of our belongings were packed. We had our passports and Euros. We were set to go. Our graduation was long and boring, plus I couldn’t stop thinking about the upcoming plane ride. Tomorrow we would be off to Italy were could spend the rest of our lives together. We just needed to get past the party on the beach.
We arrived at the graduation party on the beach just before everyone came so we had time to get a perfect seat right next to the clear blue water. Everyone brought booze and began to drink the hours away. A DJ arrived and we all danced. Robert went to grab me and him a beer when a few guys from my math class huddled around, closing in on me.
“Pretty little thing you are,” one of the boys muttered as he grabbed me. I squirmed in his arms yelling and screaming for Robert, but the sound of the music drowned me out. The boys pulled me away from the party, were they threw me on the damp sand floor. A built boy with a scar down his left cheek started to rip my clothes off piece by piece. They all reeked of alcohol. I screamed and kicked as loud as I could, but no one could hear me, or so I thought.
Robert ran toward the boys, punching one and kicking another one off of me. He must have noticed my absence, and I was relieved to see him and to get out of here. Then, out of nowhere a boy drinking a full bottle of tequila ran up behind Robert knocking him over. The boy then picked him up and threw Robert into the ocean. I let out a blood curdling scream. I ran for him. The water was powerful, and an undertow had swept him out further and further. A storm was brewing so the waves were enormous, crushing me as I tried to reach Robert, who was holding on to a buoy for dear life. A wave crashed down on me, causing sea water to fill my lungs. I just made it to the buoy. The waves crashed and swept us further out.
“Why would you come into the water love? You should have saved yourself. Did they hurt you?” That was Robert for you, always worried about everyone but himself. I loved him very much for, that but now was not the time to talk about this.
“I came back to save you. I cannot live without you Robert. I would rather die right here with you than to live years on earth without you.” I meant every word I said. Like Juliet, I spoke the truth. I wouldn’t let him go. I knew we only had seconds to spare, and that we weren’t making it out alive. Robert had already swallowed too much water, and his lungs couldn’t bare it anymore. He grabbed my hand and held it tight to his body. I wrapped my arms around him, holding him close to me. My eyes were filled with water; I could barely see his face. This was the end. This very moment is what Juliet had gone through. Watching the one she loved die, and knowing she would perish as well. I smiled at him reassuring him that we would be together again.
“I love you forever,” he said to me. He said this faintly as his breathing became uneven.
“I love you forever too. I’ll see you in the sunshine.” My lips touched his and soon slipped off. The water crashed over us sending the buoy even father into the ocean. He moved his mouth to my ear whispering,
“My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite” Those were our final words. We submerged under together, slowly falling down the dark path where light consumed us, taking us to a better place.