She wasn’t surprised to see her name on the cast list. Mia Rose – Juliet. What widened her eyes and lifted the hairs on the back of her neck was the casting of Romeo - Dale Hargrove.
Of all the boys in the school she never imagined Dale would spend the next few weeks rehearsing with her. Exploring iambic pentameter for the deep passion it could unlock. Kissing and kissing some more until the scene was just right. Dying in each other’s arms over and over. Waiting for the curtain to rise to greet a gymnasium in the calm of a storm before the first clap of thunderous applause. It was almost too unbelievable. For the first time Mia, the boys on the basketball team, and the cheerleaders all had something in common. Utter surprise.
Dale wasn’t exactly a thespian. He was however an old hand at being in the limelight. Star athlete, funny skits during the orientation assembly, dunk tank victim for the past three years at the autumn fair. Everyone loved Dale, but none more so than Mia. She couldn’t remember a time she hadn’t been totally, with every fiber of her being, in love. From the moment she first saw him singing the national anthem in junior kindergarten to just yesterday when he was dribbling a basketball in the parking lot on his way to his car after school, she loved him. And now, they’ll be together, at least as Romeo and Juliet, but if Mia could have it her way, the end of Juliet and Romeo’s life would be the beginning of hers and Dale’s.
Mia ignored the other drama dorks congratulations and pats on the back. She ignored their quiet grumblings of Mr. Graham’s left field decision to cast Dale, a drama club outsider as a lead. She just wandered in a dream down the hall, lost in a million and one thoughts of unformed ecstasy. Mia was abruptly yanked out of the clouds and into the cafeteria by Libby Gilman.
Libby was Dale’s girlfriend since freshman year. She was also queen bitch… also since freshmen year. She was holding court at the cool table when she called over to congratulate Mia on winning Juliet. This “congratulation” was of course just an expertly designed passive aggressive warning. Libby may as well have lifted her leg and pissed on Dale’s shoes to mark her territory, making sure to curl her lip to show her fangs. This icy splash may have cooled Mia’s enthusiasm for a moment, but on her walk home images again projected in her line of sight. Images of her lying on a stone tablet, waking to find Dale dead. But in this version Romeo awakes and makes love to her right there.
That night Mia was convinced of something she has always wanted to believe to be true; star-crossed lovers do exist. Was Dale thinking the same? She knew the next few weeks would be the most important of her life. She took a deep breath. Going back to watching Dale from the other side of the playground was unthinkable now. Gifts like this only come once in a lifetime.
At the first read through Dale proved to all the drama club skeptics that he belonged. He read beautifully, he was unabashed, funny when he needed to be, earnest when it called for it. He brought life to the role. Even Christophe, who felt he was cheated out of Romeo due to politics and now had to settle for Tybalt, was impressed, despite envy.
As the weeks went on and show time approached Mia felt more and more sure that Dale was as in love with her as she was with him. During one rehearsal of the balcony scene, she looked deep into Dale’s eyes. Dale looked deep into hers. The moment was the most powerful she ever felt. It was only interrupted when Christophe piped in with the next line. Mr. Graham told him to shut up and that he had ruined the moment.
When they were off stage the usual formalities of high school social pecking order still applied. But now when Dale passed her in the hall he would give her a warm smile and say, “I look forward to rehearsal my sweet sweet Juliet.”
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WATTY 2016 WINNER of the HQ Love Award! Strange Yarns is a ball of tangled tales. Twisted, knotted, and intertwined. Like Tales of the Crypt, the Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. Strange Yarns is not just a collection of ghastly tales, these are...