JULIET, part II
A Two Page Love Story by G. Z. Kieft
Based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet
Romeo had slain Tybalt and was the cause of Mercutio’s death, news that shocked me even if it didn’t sadden me. I wondered how Juliet was faring through this, and my answer arrived to me later that night.
The moonlight narrowed into the halls through the small, arched windows, and it casted my shadow on the opposing wall. I stood before Juliet’s chamber, and curling my fingers into a fist, I knocked on the door.
“Juliet?” I called.
The door suddenly swung open, and Juliet faced me. Her expression was strewn with unknown determination, and she had a weird sort of smile on her face.
“Juliet.” I said again, upon greeting her.
“Peter.” She said. “Come in.”
My heart pounded against my ribcage, and I forgot for a split second how much pain she had caused me. But what excitement spilled from my heart quickly poisoned to shock as, when I entered the room, I caught sight of an elderly man I did not know.
“Peter,” Juliet spoke behind me. “Meet Friar Laurence.”
Juliet explained a wicked plan to me. She exposed every feeling she had had in the past few weeks, and her plans to be reunited with Romeo through the faking of her own death by a faux poison. My distrust of the Friar Laurence was halted by Juliet’s sudden, unending dependence on me.
She said, “Peter, I need you.”
And never had I denied her my assistance. I had promised her and myself that. She could always count on me.
So the plan was that I would travel to Romeo and explain to him that her death was not real, and through me Romeo would know that Juliet was safe and would be reunited with him soon. I left early the next morning upon horseback, racing over the hilly countryside to the destination the Friar had divulged to me. But a disgusting mood befell me then; a popular toxin that has often decided man’s fate and it was jealousy. As I rode my horse, I thought suddenly that maybe I shouldn’t deliver this message. That maybe Romeo should learn of Juliet’s death and he should grieve and perhaps he would indeed leave Verona forever. And Juliet, then, so distraught Romeo chose not to show up for their meet-up, would return to her old life. With Romeo and Tybalt out of the picture, perhaps I could finally announce my infatuation with her and then… then Juliet and I could live happily ever after.
I did not deliver the message to Romeo, and instead I returned back to Verona, where commotion leaked over the streets like spilled ink. Juliet was dead, and only Friar Laurence and myself knew the truth. A felt a twisted pleasure in this, but it was always accompanied by a guilt so large in disturbed me. I was walking in the alleys at nightfall contemplatively, accompanied by whatever evil had possessed me, when I heard the echo of hooves upon cobblestone. I peeked out from the alley into the street and saw a hooded figure, clad in a deep brown cloak that hid any of its possessor’s identity, upon a black steed. But as the horse passed me by without notice, I caught a glimpse of two, bright eyes filled with sorrow only few men have known. I stood in the alley in shock. Romeo had come back. Despite everything, Romeo had come to see her.
Suddenly worried my plan had failed, I ran through the streets at his heels as fast as I could. Juliet had been placed to rest in the Capulet crypt, and upon my arrival I saw two horses tied to a nearby tree. Who else was here? I rushed to the door and noticed it stood inched open, and before bustling through I pressed my ear to the cold wood.
“Ah dear Juliet…” I heard Romeo whisper. “Why art though yet so fair?”
The misery in his voice was debilitating. I pushed open the door slightly and peeked in. The candlelight inside cast large, dark shadows in the crypt. I saw Juliet, lying atop her tomb lifeless, and Romeo on his knees at her side. He wept, and in his bloody hands he held a small green vial. The blood from his hands trailed some ways in my direction, and I saw a slain Count Paris on the floor.
“Here’s to my love.” I hear Romeo say, and with it the sound of a cork popping from its glass source echoed in the halls.
It was poison.
“Stop!” I yelled. “Stop!”
Romeo turned to me in sudden shock.
“Who are you?” He managed between his tears.
“She’s not dead!” I rushed into the crypt, my blood boiling with anticipation.
“What?” Romeo said, lowering the vial.
“She’s alive yet!” I said. My eyes left him and settled on her perfect, still face.
Her cheeks were rosy with life and her lips dark pink. She was very far from death.
“What is it you want with her?” Romeo stood up to me threateningly, and realizing he was still aligned with suicide, I smacked the poison vial from his hands.
“She’s not dead.” I told him.
I returned my eyes to her and longed to touch her. I longed to kiss her still, peaceful face. I longed for it so much, but with Romeo’s dramatic heaves in my ear I was persuaded otherwise. I looked up at him and clasped him on the shoulder.
“Serve her well.”
Romeo’s flabbergasted face was the last thing I saw as I turned away to walk towards the exit. Through the echoes of the crypt, I heard Juliet grumble awake and Romeo’s consequential gasp of shock. I wanted to peek back, more than ever, but as I reached the door, I slipped through the crack and never saw the lovers again.
What agony lost love brings is salved in the satisfaction of a clear conscious. What would have happened if I hadn’t been there? Would Romeo have killed himself? And then what would have become of Juliet? I would never know these answers, and I was better off for it. Still, as I wandered the barren gardens of house Capulet, where Juliet used to talk to the flowers and read beside the fountain, I felt a gaping emptiness. I settled myself on a small bench, sighing as I was wont to do, and I closed my eyes at the sun.
“You’re Peter, right?” A voice startled me and I quickly reopened my eyes.
Flanking me from the left was a slender brunette with a face quite familiar to me, even as the name escaped me.
“Yes?” I responded.
The girl neatly took a seat next to me.
“I miss her.” She said.
“Juliet?” I asked, and the girl nodded.
“You’re a Capulet, are you not?” I squinted.
She nodded again, and she smiled.
“Forgive me, I am horrible with names.”
To my surprise, she chuckled. “You were always preoccupied with Juliet.”
“I wasn’t…” I began, but she interrupted me.
“Our secret.” She assured.
I stared at her in wonder for her brave approach. A sudden appeal became her, and all I could managed was to stare awe-fully. She noticed and looked away before smiling.