Short Story Sunday: Star Crossed

I don’t remember why Teddy wanted to go to Verona. Maybe it was the Roman ruins or the colorful buildings. It might just have been because we had never been there before. Or maybe it could have been because the vampire population is small. 

I’d ask Teddy and he’d just smile and tell me that it was the romance of it all. With Teddy everything is about the romance of it all.

We’d rented a tile roofed house with a courtyard full of flowers, a hot water heater that worked, and a quick walk to the markets and historic sites.

One morning over coffee I heard someone crying. I questioned my husband. He went out to the courtyard and didn’t see anyone.

“It sounded like a girl,” I said. “She sounded so sad.”

We both stood in the kitchen and listened. The crying started again. Then we heard the voice of a young man speaking softly in Italian.

“This is not my fault,” he said. “I had no control over the situation. I told him that you were both fools to think your infatuation would lead to any good.”

Then she wailed and cried again. “You are wrong. He and I were in love. It was the love that only angels can bring to this world. It was true. It was so beautiful.”

“No,” the young man said. “He was like a dog who sniffed at every crotch he saw. He would follow them until they shooed him away. You were nothing but a rebound with a pretty face. Nothing more than another cute little pet.”

The girl screamed obscenities at him, then it stopped.

Despite it being summer, a chill filled the air. Teddy and I look at each other. 

“Ghosts” said Teddy. “I hate ghosts.”

Suddenly a young man, more of a teenage boy, with hair to his shoulders and a billowing white shirt stood before us.

“You hate ghosts do you? I hate vampires. They come here with their breath smelling of blood, and their pale skin. Yet… look at you. Damn you are handsome. Your wife is quite lovely but you! You, both of you, do not look, or even act like the undead demons of the night.”

“We are neither undead nor demons,” I said. 

The wailing started again. Materializing next to him was a girl, maybe thirteen or fourteen. She wore a long green dress. Her dark hair was flowing down her back to her waist. Tears flowed down her face.

“My love Romeo and I were to be together always, even in death, but I was stuck here with HIM.” She glanced over to the male ghost with hate and loathing.

“You were idiots,” he said. “You had no business hooking up. I died because of you. Because of YOU Juliet.”

“Mercutio you are a liar and a wart on the ass of a dog.” Then she looked at us. “For hundreds of years he has done nothing but insult me and question my love for Romeo. He is jealous to the point of obsession.”

“I would rather die than be with a girl like you,” Mercutio said.

“You are dead,” Juliet screamed.

“Because of you. I am dead because of you. Now I am stuck with this bitch forever while my ungrateful friend Romeo has gone with the angels to a heaven he does not deserve.”

“Why do you stay in this place,” I asked.

“It is where vampires come to visit. Normal living people do not see us. They do not believe in us. When Juliet cries they only hear the wind. When we tap on the walls they think we are rats,” said Mercutio. “It breaks my heart because my charms are wasted on an ungrateful child.”

“I am not a child,” Juliet wailed.

“You are not a woman,” said Mercutio. “So why do we stay? Where would we go?”

“My name is also Juliette,” I said, “I just spell it differently.”

“It looks as though you were wiser when choosing a man,” said Mercutio.

Juliet started to wail again.

I glanced at my husband. “Should we go see some of the old city Teddy?”

“Good idea,” said my handsome husband.

As we walked the streets Teddy put his arm around my shoulder and kissed me. “I’m glad that when I almost died that I woke up as a vampire and not a damn ghost. They’re always so bitter.”

“Bad decisions. You didn’t choose to be vampire, but you also didn’t choose to fall in love with the wrong person,” I said.

“Very true. I’m happy to say I’ve never felt the urge to be star crossed.”

“Or throw pebbles at my window late at night.”

He laughed and kissed me again. Teddy and I have always told our children that choices they make when they are young might follow them forever. They must be careful and think of consequences. Being carried away in the moment might be deadly, or even worse. 

Tragedy comes in many forms. Then again, so does comedy. I think I’ll stick with comedy. Yes, don’t underestimate a vampire’s capacity to entertain. 

Now several years later I sometimes wonder if the spell was broken on the two ghosts in Verona. I can only hope. Even the worst follies of youth should eventually be forgiven. It is time for them all to say goodnight. And now, it is time for me to do the same as well.

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