Crazy times at my house. Better late than never.
Like Marcella, I’m not a big fan of Romeo and Juliet. A 13 and 14 year old… What’s up with that? So here’ my pseudo progressive ending. Hate it if you must, but I just had to do it.
Juliet blinked her eyes. The poison had not worked and very much alive Romeo face shimmered into focus. She should be thrilled. Why didn’t his eyes look as brown as they once did, nor as tender. He smelled of sweat and mint and sulfur soap, that made her want to gag. Was that a pimple on his temple or a wart?
“Thank the lord, you are alive, my love,” Romeo squeaked, the sound harsh against her ears. His mouth fell open, the tip of a pink tongue emerged. The look reminded her of a puppy dog. She looked around him half expecting a wagging tail. He was so young.
“My daughter, thank goodness we find you.” Her father came running up to them. Sweat plastered his salt and pepper hair to his forehead. “We have made peace with the Montagues. The war is over. Come home and I promise you can attend school with your brothers.”
“You will let me learn to read, father?”
“Aye, daughter, I will. You were too willing to give up your life, too early. It woke me up.”
“Then, Romeo, we should wait. Learn. Grow. If we still love each other after a few years, we can marry properly.”
So my lie two weeks ago? Number 3. Never auditioned in LA for pilot season. Everything else was true. 😀
Ah. Romeo and Juliet. How I loathe that play. It’s not at all romantic. And I’ve always been really curious about why my professors and teachers all insisted it was a love story when I suspect very, very strongly it’s actually about something else altogether. BUT. I’m supposed to write an ending here, not deconstruct the illusion that there’s something romantic about two idiot teenagers committing suicide after their first few sexual encounters with one another.
Romeo studied the still, silent face of his beloved. Almost, he believed he could die just from the searing pain in his heart. But no. It kept on beating. Kept on aching. It should have been impossible with Juliet dead. His fist clenched on the vial of poison. He’d take it. Swallow it and join Juliet in death. But first.
“Let me hold you one last time,” he murmured, drawing her limp form into his arms. Cradling her against his chest, he slid down the cold stone wall of the crypt until he sat on the floor, crooning meaningless, broken words into her sweet-smelling hair. His tears wet her face.
She sighed and snuggled closer.
He gasped. “Juliet?”
“Hmm?” Her eyes opened, but her gaze didn’t quite focus on him.
Laughing while still crying, Romeo hurled the vial of poison away. He kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her hair and finally, when she lifted a hand to brush the moisture from his face, her lips. And tasted the remnants of something bitter. He drew back. She met his gaze no reservation in her eyes.
“You got my message,” she said.
“What message? Juliet. You feigned death.”
“For you,” she said, pulling free and sitting up. “You could have taken my body out into the fields for burial. I would have returned to consciousness and we could have escaped. Together.”
He blew out a trembling breath and glanced at the dark stain his shattered bottle of poison had spill across the far wall. “This is unbelievable. I thought you were dead. I meant to die, too. So we could be together.”
“Don’t you ever do that,” she demanded. “I love you. I will love you whether I live or I die. I couldn’t bear to have you destroy what I love.”
“Then live,” he said. “For I love you more than I love the shattered life that is left to me. I can offer you nothing. No security. No luxury. Nothing of what you so richly deserve – a home, a life of laughter and ease.”
“We are prisoners to hate that is older than we are,” she noted. “I, for one, am tired of it. I have been for some time, but it wasn’t until I met you and learned to be daring and to take risks that I decided I wouldn’t stand for it anymore.”
A smile grew unbidden on his face and he stroked her hair. His body trembled when she leaned into the caress. “You are my lawfully wedded wife. I want what is best for you. I fear I am not it.”
“You are,” she said. “I gladly forfeit my inheritance, for the money is tainted by the feud between our families. I will have none of it. Get us out of the city. Then we’ll go to Cinqe Terre. A friend is building an import/export business there. She wants me to draw her products so that she may show her wares in distant cities without having to travel with them. It will not be luxury. But we will not starve.”
“Work?” Romeo said. He grinned and rose. They were alive. She wanted him. More than she wanted a life of pampered comfort. “I suppose at worst we know I could become a soldier.”
She took the hand he offered. He pulled her upright. “None of that,” she chided. “You’re promising to live for me. No soldiering. Have you considered teaching dance to young noblewomen?”
He laughed. “Let’s get out of here.”
Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide.
Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on
The dashing rocks thy seasick, weary bark.
Here’s to my love! (drinks the poison) O true apothecary,
Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.
Ah, and so end’s Romeo and Juliet. Now, this isn’t a favorite play of mine. I don’t like tragic endings in romance, that’s why I write in the romance genre and not women’s fiction. I want the HEA. The HEA might take a few books to get there, but rest assured, my heroes will be happy together, and not in death. So here’s how I would write the ending (and being predominately a m/m writer, I’m changing Juliet into Jules.)
(kisses JULES, takes out the poison)
Romeo stares at the ugly brown bottle. Did he really want to end his life? Yes, he loved Jules like no other, but it wasn’t as if they could marry. He’d have to do the deed sometime in the future.
He vehemently shook his head. With Jules he had no life, and the thought of taking a wife left a knot in his stomach.
“Bitter, bitter taste I will welcome. Here’s to my love. “
He uncapped the cork and the nasty whiff made him choke.
Jules stirred, sitting up on his elbows, rubbing his eyes. “Hey, Rom, what took you so long?”
Romeo gasped and dropped the bottle on the concrete floor. The glass smashed and released the foul odor.
Jules wrinkled his nose. “What the fuck is that stuff?”
“I thought you were dead?”
“Didn’t you get the message?”
Romeo’s heart pounded. He’d almost taken the vile poison, and all this time his lover was alive. “What message?”
“Man, you have the worst luck. I only pretended to die, idiot. Why would I kill myself? Tybalt is dead. Mecutio is dead. How many dead bodies do we need in this goddamn play?”
Romeo shrugged. “And Paris…”
“Geeze, man, is there anyone left alive?”
Romeo grinned, his eyes shining. “We are…so let’s make the best of it.”
Fade to black…
Ah, come on, this IS Shakespeare and he doesn’t do erotic romance!
Viki Lyn: Award winning author of paranormal and contemporary romances. You can find all of Viki’s books at the following sites: Amazon, All Romance Ebooks and GLBT Bookshelf.
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