The room parted; boys on one side, girls the other. Each side hurled insults and tried their damnedest to suppress surging hormones. Freshmen and sophomores dances were normally like this: backs against the wall, all eyes, and no courage.
“What’s the matter then?” I said, shuffling down the aisle in the dim auditorium.
One of my lead’s stepped forward. Janice Steward, only 15 years old, but already endowed with the swagger of an undergrad. Her arms were crossed and her right hip stuck out.
“Mr. Roy, can you please tell the boys that they’re wrong?”
“About?” I said, biting my thumb, trying to hide my amusement at the drama.
“Romeo and Juliet is about love, right?”
“Well, Janice. One could interpret it that way–”
“–and how love is the most powerful thing their is, right?”
I shrugged. She had a point. “Well Janice, Love, in a way, does drive these two lovers to their deaths.”
The group of boys on the opposite side of the stage rumbled. I turned cocking an eyebrow.
“And, what do you all believe is the point of Romeo and Juliet? Pray tell.”
Jimmy Scootle, my Romeo shouldered past his giggling comrades. He shot a glance at Janice before clearing his throat.
“Er, the point of the story, Mr. Roy, is that everything dies, so what’s the point?” The boy said in the most matter-of-fact tone.
My head snapped back at the frankness. “My, that’s quite nihilistic don’t you think, Jimmy? And not everyone dies at the end.”
“Well, all the good guys die. Mercutio dies, then Romeo. And, Romeo and Juliet don’t even get to spend that much time together.” Jimmy shot another glance at Janice, who met his eyes this time. “Instead of checking for a pulse, like any normal person, he poisons himself.”
A few snickers rose from behind Jimmy. Under the stage lights he had flushed when his eyes met Janice’s. So it’s like that, is it, I thought.
“Love, makes you do impulsive things. It means you can’t think straight. Why do you think there’s such a thing as a ‘crime of passion?’ You don’t think, you just do.” Janice said.
The two looked at eachother again. She cracked a tiny smile at him and he looked down at his shoes.
The shrill ringing of the bell’s periodic song.
The children stormed off stage, grabbing their backpacks. I watched as my Romeo of Juliet exchanged a final look as they left for their respective activities. She was the head of the debate team, and he the varsity starting quarterback.
I cursed the bell as I packed up my materials. “You’re only delaying the inevitable. They may be starcrossed, but it will happen nonetheless.”