As evening fell I sat on my bed and started reading ‘Romeo and Juliet’. I struggled to get into the story at first because the language was so strange and hard for me to understand, but I soon found a rhythm when I began to read it out loud and that helped me to make sense of some of the words. Slowly I became more interested and tried to understand what was happening in the story.
As I read through the first scenes I didn’t like the character of Romeo at all. He just seemed to be like all those other loud mouthed boys when he said he was in love with one girl but then forgot all about her the moment he saw Juliet. I was disgusted when he kissed Juliet for the first time, particularly after she had said that she didn’t want him to.
But I became so engrossed in my reading that instead of going to sleep I stayed up until late into the night, long after everyone else in the house had gone to bed. I held my book in the light of my bedside lamp as I read all the way through to the scene where Romeo stood in the garden and watched Juliet through the window.
Eventually I got too tired to read as I had to fight to keep my eyelids open, so I lay the book beside my pillow and fell asleep with thoughts of flowers and masks and gardens and parties floating through my mind.
As I slept that night I had a strange dream where I was surrounded by my sisters. They were all jumping around and yelling ‘happy birthday’, and then Catherine was brushing my hair while Jasmine was putting makeup on my face. Samantha was dancing around the room and singing, and I sat silently in the middle of all this activity. There was a light coming through the window and I could hear the voices of lots of boys talking and laughing and yelling and fighting, but I never saw any of their faces. I turned and looked at my face in the mirror and smiled because I thought I looked pretty, but when I woke next morning it was still the same old me with all those ugly freckles.
I rolled over in my bed and found my book was still right next to my pillow where I had left it. I picked it up and started reading again, slowly rolling the words over my tongue to try and get the right feel and understand what was happening. I took the book with me out to the kitchen and kept reading all the way through breakfast and then I decided to go for a walk amongst the apple trees.
I kept walking until I was deep inside the orchard and far away from any human eyes. Standing in the shade of an apple tree, I held the book in one hand as I started reading aloud and pretended that I was performing in the play. I went back to the beginning, because that moment when Romeo and Juliet first fell in love with each other was starting to become my favourite scene. I looked through the branches as though I was looking out my window and imagined that a handsome Romeo was watching me from the other side and throwing sweet wishes my way.
When I got tired of acting I sat down with my back against the trunk of the apple tree and pulled a pencil out of my pocket to start writing in my journal. I wanted to write poetry in the way that it was written in the play, but the words just came out ugly and clumsy so I stopped doing that and just stared into the trees for ages and let my mind wander.
Then I got an idea that I should write a poem about how I felt about Romeo and Juliet. So I closed my eyes for a moment to try and compose some words. When I opened them I just let my pen wander across the page as I wrote,
‘When I was a young child,
I dreamed I was a singer,
Lifting my voice to the stars
Where everybody would listen;
I lived by the water with my sisters,
In a house of love, laughter and music,
Until one day I awoke as a teenager
Lost in a book of dreams;
When I closed my eyes,
Or disappeared into a daydream,
My voice would carry across the water
As I sang of love and tragedy;
I discovered ancient poetry,
The light breaking from the east,
And I was Juliet, no longer a child
But a woman deeply in love;
I sang with my lover in duet
As we promised each other
Eternity with a kiss.’