Romeo was a Montague. Juliet was a Capulet. Romeo and Juliet loved each other. But the Montagues and Capulets loathed each other. They were indeed ‘star-crossed’, as Shakespeare describes it, plagued by bad luck. But old Shakespeare told an embroidered tale, not one entirely true. So listen closely, my friends, as I tell you the real story of Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet.
It was a favourite thing of theirs, the lovers, to sneak out of the house every night and meet up at an abandoned tower on the edge of Verona. They’d often fantasise about running away from all the hate and dispute of their families, and live in peace with each other.
The Italian night sky was normally filled with stars, but on this particular night, when Romeo and Juliet met, the sky was dominated by clouds, and there was not so much as a twinkle in sight. From the top of the tower, Juliet looked out at the open land, with its rolling hills, and carpet of green grass, and sighed.
“Oh, Romeo, we’re always talking about how we want to run away and leave this life behind. Why don’t we ever do it?”
Romeo didn’t know the answer to it himself. “It is not the right time yet.” That was all he could say. “But one day we will.”
“Mmm,” Juliet sighed again, “One day.”
They stood next to each other, looking out at the countryside from their tower. Then they heard a scream. They turned around to look at the city, and another scream was heard. They were sure it was coming from the Capulet household.
Juliet normally wasn’t fast on feet, but tonight, she ran faster than ever through the candlelit cobblestone streets. When she reached the house of the Capulets, she pushed open the heavy wooden doors to find her parents, Lord and Lady Capulet, lying on the floor, their lips abnormally blue. They were dead. Beside them, a sobbing man sat on his knees.
“Cousin Tybalt!” cried Juliet. “What’s wrong? What happened to Mother and Father?”
Tybalt, in a shaky voice, replied, “Killed. Poisoned! Someone dared to take their lives, to take your dear Mother and Father…but Juliet, who is that man that stands next to you? Is that not the young son of the Lord and Lady Montague? Why are you with him, Juliet? Stay away! Get out, filth, get out!”
Romeo and Juliet had left the tower in such haste that they had forgotten to hide Romeo. And now they had been seen together, the consequences were going to be far from good. Tybalt stood up and drew a dagger. He menacingly made his way towards the couple, baring the dagger like a set of claws. Romeo edged in front of Juliet, ready for the attack. But an unexpected voice came from behind.
“Romeo, my son, where have you-!?”
Tybalt threw the dagger with great accuracy, and it just missed Romeo, flying past his ear, but instead hitting his mother squarely in the stomach. Her mouth was gaping open in pain, and the black dress she wore became wet and shiny with blood. She fell to the ground, dead.
Romeo was speechless. Anger blinded him, and he ran towards Tybalt, roaring. But Juliet pulled him back, and cried “Please, no, Romeo! No good will come out of more killing!” She pushed Romeo back and pleaded with Tybalt to leave him alone. Romeo gained back his senses, and ran outside to see his mother. Holding back tears, he gave her one last kiss on the forehead.
Just then, Juliet caught a glimpse of a bottle in the folds of Romeo’s clothes. She swiped it from him and read the label.
“Poison?” Juliet was taken aback. “Romeo, why do you have this?”
Romeo looked uneasy. He didn’t answer. Then it dawned on Juliet. “Romeo, you didn’t…you couldn’t have…” She looked back at her parents, lying lifelessly on the floor.
“I had to.” Romeo finally spoke. “If we were ever to marry, then our parents would have been in the way.”
“So what? You killed my parents! Are you planning to kill your father too? I never thought you would stoop so low!” Juliet screamed.
Whoosh! A piece of flaming wood came flying through the air and landed just metres away from the Capulet household. Then a chair set alight was thrown from one of its windows. The families were trying to set each other on fire.
Juliet couldn’t take it any more. “STOP! Just stop!” She was losing control. Soon, she was in tears, overwhelmed by everything. The trees in the courtyard caught fire, and flaming debris surrounded Romeo and Juliet. Before long, they were sitting in a ring of fire. The flames leaped out at them, and streams of fire were overhead.
Romeo made to comfort Juliet, but she pushed him away. “I’m sorry,” she said through tears, “I just can’t.” The fire grew bigger, and the safe space got smaller. Screams rose from both the Capulets and Montagues. Juliet spoke one last time before the flames swallowed them both.
“Goodbye – forever”– Juliet’s last words
Moral of the story: No good ever comes from violence.
Author’s note: ‘Romeo & Juliet’ is one of Shakespeare’s greatest works. The story of the two star-crossed lovers from two feuding families is known worldwide, and the tale has influenced me so much that it inspired me to get writing! So here it is, inspired by William Shakespeare himself, my very own version of ‘Romeo & Juliet’ – with a twist!