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Would she have to follow a part that was pre-decided for her, always? What if she longed for a different kind of love? Or lover?
Juliet lay there in a state of paralysis, pretending to have taken her own life. She had to wait till her ‘lover’ Romeo would come and very stupidly take his own life. ‘Lover’ – that was what was written for her – Romeo, the Lover, for whom she would eventually despair and give up everything. It had been written for her centuries ago and then re-adapted again and again by other writers and filmmakers and dramatists and theatre directors, many of them creating cult classics and the very popular sagas for love.
But did she even love him, really? Would she have to follow a part that was pre-decided for her, always? What if she wanted something beyond just a death in the name of love? What if she longed for a different kind of love? Or lover?
A lover with whom she could take a little cottage in the hill, she would bake with her lover – pies, breads cakes and look forward to watering their little garden beside the cottage and feeding the sparrows that shall come to sing for them.
Romeo was nice but she didn’t like him that way and why must she? She was a reincarnation of Juliet, a different one. Besides love could never be pre-decided like all the writers made it seem for her. How could she make it different? How could she run away to the woods with her lover so the writers could take their cue to pick up a different story? Why were her only choices Count Paris and Romeo?
She thought of her lover again. Oh, the eyes, the skin, the cheeks, the lips, the hair, the ears, it was as if she had painted a portrait in her head, as exact as the impression of a thumb having ink over it. The warmth that she would feel when they’d hold hands, oh how her heart would be washed over with this inexplicable feeling of joy! Almost like a hopefully drizzle amidst famine and a just awakened sun amidst a blizzard. And when they’d embrace, her entire body would feel like a brook that could stream on aimlessly for hours. And oh dear, could she ever forget the day they had confessed their feelings to each other! It was as if the skies were listening and waiting to pour down bliss, Juliet had felt unrestricted like a boundless sea! Oh, what a feeling love was, almost like an oasis amidst an oriental desert – an oasis, not a mirage.
She came out of her imagination’s transcendence when Romeo’s perfectly delivered lines broke her trance. He was here again, to die so she’d be obligated to die as well. To decide her fate or simply to seal her will to live, as if everything was dependent on a man.
She heard his hoarse voice delivering his lines impeccably,
“O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick.
Thus with a kiss I die”
She sighed; those words had done nothing to her, only made her more impatient and anxious for her performance. What an odd apothecary Romeo had visited, if only her special friend could have introduced him to the roadside pleasures of apothecaries that seeming Bohemians carried in their sacks – fantasy and the idea of what could not be was another hedonism that she didn’t know her docile mind could indulge in.
She heard the shriek of a shattering glass bottle that was followed by complete stillness; it was the cue for the comrade being down, it was now time for her performance.
Juliet woke up captivating the eyes of the spectators, her lost and grief-stricken look was convincingly mourning dead love, yet it was only a lie, her mind was haunted by other questions.
What if the ideas that she thought couldn’t be, could actually become a reality, her reality? Who would be there to hinder it? Only the writer, who would probably watch the scene in dismay and yet be unable to do anything, perhaps the audience who’d discuss it on for some time until they entrap another Juliet, maybe Romeo would feel a tinge of betrayal but it would be better than loving someone who’d never reciprocate!
It was time for her to bid farewell to the world but what if she wanted to say goodbye to a plot written for her centuries ago!?
She was breathing rapidly; her family would guillotine her for this but she had been reading about mental health and this seemed like a panic attack – but it fit in for the role of a distraught woman plagued by the loss of a loved one.
Unable to withstand any more pain, she pushed the tip of the knife into her abdomen and it seemed like a painless pain, for before her she could only see the only eyes she had ever loved. This was it, it was the end, and suddenly everything around her began to slow down, almost like sugar in a tea that one had just stopped stirring. An uncontrollable vacuum was being created that engulfed all the light around her. Darkness slow and deep, quiet, still, unmoving, unbreathing in a dark, sugary sleep: no pain, no joy, no sight, no sound, no taste; she remained floating, distant. She wouldn’t wake up, she’d stay in this cotton-wool world, its soft, sleepy music lifting her up through the roof, the banisters, the rooms up above, through the entire weight of the building, its steeple. She rose like a wisp of cloud.
This was her departure from a plot about her and yet with no obligation to adhere to her will! She wept silently, the tears in her brimming eyes sliding down her cheeks like an odd moisturizer. A part of her was angry, furious that her fate would be decided by someone else, yet again! She could stop it, even now, the departure wasn’t completed. All the pain could be gone! She didn’t have to suffer because that was expected of her.
An indefinable rage filled Juliet, which enabled her to pull out the knife away from her abdomen. It must have appalled the audiences but it didn’t matter. She was in love, and she knew where she’d find her lover. Juliet with no concern began moving swiftly, she felt like the breeze today as her hair wavered like tide on full moon nights. Oh how much she loved her beloved! Heer, how much she loved Heer, who was probably waiting for her near the apple orchard across the town. Juliet was in love with Heer even if she went down in the history of another epoch as a part of Romeo and Juliet. Oh how much she looked forward to being caressed by her darling Heer. Heer whose lustrous hair radiated of hope, whose radiant face was all the warmth one needed, whose delicate hands would surpass the potential of any firewood, who’d smell like pink blossoms.
Juliet and Heer – a story they would perhaps write in their cozy little cottage while eating bread. She was in love with another woman and it didn’t matter as she continued running.
She looked above to find an entourage of sparrows following her.
This story had been shortlisted for our February 2021 Muse of the Month short fiction contest.
Image source: Gabriel Santos Fotografia on pexels
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