Five Happily Ever Afters for Juliet Capulet
Juliet is eager to find a spouse, and is excited when her father explains that Paris has expressed an interest in her. She dreams of the wedding, and how she will be a beautiful bride. She doesn't think about what life will be after – that's too nebulous a concept to worry about, in spite of Nurse's ramblings about her wifely duties.
The masked ball is fun, but she's more nervous than usual. Tonight, for the very first time, she will look upon the face of the man who will become her lord.
The room is hot and crowded, and she takes the chance to use the anonymity her mask provides to edge toward a more secluded spot. She will have to perform her duties as her father's daughter later, but right now she has a chance to hide.
But she finds she is not alone in the corner. Standing there is a man who unfamiliar to her. He is tall and broad-shouldered, but she cannot judge if he is handsome since his face is covered by a sparkling mask.
"Greetings, fair lady," he says, and his deep voice sends a thrill through her. "May I have this dance?"
She is bold for a young lady, but she knows how the game should be played. She ducks her head slightly with feminine modesty, looking up through her mask at a strongly-built man, who is several years older than her but still very good-looking.
"A lady must not speak freely to a stranger," she replies coyly.
"A lady possessed of your beauty may call me whatever she wants, but the name my mother granted me is Paris." He bows over her hand and kissing her knuckles in a dashing fashion.
It is enough. Juliet is in love.
Tybalt and Mercutio fight, sword to sword, in the middle of the square. Tybalt is clearly the better swordsman of the two, but Mercutio might strike a lucky blow and end the matter in his own favor. Either way, there is no way this can end pleasantly, for both are defying the Prince's order about fighting in the streets.
Looking on, Romeo is torn – he does not want to fight his newly-made cousin, but Mercutio is one of his closest friends. This is a matter of honor, and Romeo does not see an easy solution to this dilemma.
Then, as if a sign from Heaven itself, an angel walks onto the scene.
"Please, I pray, do not fight!" a woman dressed in white says, her beautiful face marred only by dismay.
Tybalt and Mercutio pause, stunned at the intrusion of a female. Romeo is quick to take advantage, stepping forward to claim her hand in his own and make her known by her new name.
"I introduce my lady-wife, Juliet Montague," Romeo announces, and with those few words forever lays to rest the enmity between the Montagues and Capulets.
The daughter of Capulet lies in state upon a cold, gray stone within the tomb of her ancestors. Her chest is ominously still, and her face waxen and without life.
The tomb is still as the death it contains for a long while, but soon the sound of two sets of footsteps fills the chamber. The younger of the men falls to his knees, checking for any sign of life. "I see no breath, her breast does not move."
"It is as I wrote you in my letter," the older man assures the youth. "She but sleeps, waiting for you to claim her. Be patient, young lord, and she will awaken."
A couple more minutes pass, and the lady's color grows warmer. Then Juliet lifted her eyes, and catches sight of her Romeo kneeling next to her. Friar Laurence stands behind him, holding a torch to provide lighting in the tomb.
"Are you awake, my love?" Romeo whispers.
"Here's to my love!" Romeo says, preparing to take the fatal toast that will reunite him with his beloved in death.
A sound from behind Romeo makes the youth jerk out of his melodramatics. His free hand reaches reflexively toward his sword, but the intruder is faster than he. Friar Laurence catches Romeo's hand, forcing the poison away from his lips. "Stay thy hand, my child. For thy lady will awaken in but a moment."
Hearing the sound of the good Friar's voice awakens something in Romeo. All of the sudden, the momentum of the last few days, his whirlwind courtship and marriage, the grief at the loss of his love, settles deep inside and he realizes how very close to hell he is, for God will not forgive the sin of suicide.
"You speak the truth?" Romeo asks, and he manages to talk without letting
"I would swear it upon a stack of Bibles, or any oath you would have me make," the Friar replies, his hand remaining on Romeo's to forestall tragedy.
Romeo nods slowly, putting his faith in the man's promise. Violently he throws aside the vial of poison, and the glass shatters against the Capulet tomb.
Ten minutes later, Juliet opens her eyes and smiles upon her husband.
The Mother Abbess always strolls through the halls at midnight, just as she had for the past two decades. Convent life is nothing if not predictable.
She's been in the convent for twice as long as she was free. Sometimes she looks down as her liver-spotted hands and wonders where the beauty that had once ruled Verona had gone, but she doesn't regret it. Vanity is a sin which she has long since repented.
She tries not to think of the past, but it's unavoidable, though she thinks less of the past than she once had. At night she sometimes dreams of her sweet Romeo, the husband she belonged to for only a night. It was her foolishness that led to his untimely demise by his own hand, and at the time she would have gladly followed him, had Friar Laurence not reminded her of her immortal soul.
She knows she will never see Romeo again. Suicides are damned for all eternity.
But she prays for him, hoping her prayers will offer comfort. Prayer has ever been a comfort for her, and she knows that God is a merciful. Whenever she feels alone, she touches the cross upon her breast, reminding herself she had sworn a most scared vow to the one who would always treasure her.
In God, she has found her true love.