Friday, July 25, 2008

In Fair Verona

“Well, goodbye, then."

He leaned forward as she stepped back.

"Later." She turned, aborting their waltz. “Thanks for walking me back. You really didn’t have to.”

“I know.”

Watching her take the stairs up to the apartment, he understood that, as her calculus tutor, his life was tangential to hers. His pull on her as weak as the moon’s gravity upon the sun. He believed he was okay with that. But today she pierced him with that gauzy skirt, not caring to conceal the razor burn on the legs beneath. Recollecting the intimacy of those small, angry bumps next to his knees, his hands curled into fists.

She paid him, damn it. To understand derivatives. Nothing more.

But there was something about a balcony that begged to be climbed.


Her key paused in the lock. She looked down in a manner that suggested she had already forgotten him. Feigning interest in the dumpster, he attempted a laugh. But he choked on the dirty air.

“Yeah?” she asked.

“Nothing.” He shook his head. “Just something stupid.”

She leaned her hips into the rail. “What?”

“Only . . . ”

“Jesus, Daniel.” She rolled her eyes, falling back into her sandals. “Spill it.”

“My friends, in high school.” His cheeks flamed. “They called me ‘Romeo.’”

She concealed a smile with her keys. “Oh?”

He shrugged. “They were being ironic.”


He waited for anything else.

“I never really felt like a Juliet, you know.” With a key, she carved something into the rail, her hair spilling forward. “My parents were these romantic freaks, and I guess—”

She broke off.

“They thought you should be, too?”

“Yeah,” she said. “But it always kind of embarrassed me. People can make too many assumptions.”

“I know.”

She blew on her bangs and adjusted the strap of her bag. “Anyway.”

He lifted a hand, and smiled up at her. “Goodbye, then.”

She nodded and turned back toward the door. “See you on Thursday, Daniel.”

But something in her voice had turned soft. He had widened her circle by a degree, maybe two.

It was enough. He turned away, feeling the shadows of the day dissolve into night. Whistling, a little.

This was merely the balcony scene. He still had three more acts.


Here are a couple of my favorite interpretations of the classic Shakespeare scene, by way of Youtube: the 1968, Zefferelli production, and re-imagined in song as West Side Story. Check them out...


Lena said...

interesting interpretation, so sad she is not as romantic as the guy is. But he still has time :)

That old movie is one of my all time favourites :)

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

That was breathtakingly beautiful,and the narration fantastic!

Being the romantic I am,I was wishing with every line that she gives in.Still,there is hope :)

Please do a sequel!

Barbara Martin said...

"This was merely the balcony scene. He still had three more acts."

Wondeful lines. Hope springs eternal!

Charles Gramlich said...

Nice. It does beg for a sequel. but it's complete in itself.

Nothingman said...

love the flow :) love the math reference :) love the line of "widening the circle"

superb :)

it's a treat reading your stories :)


Sarah Hina said...

Yes, that 1968 interpretation is fantastic, isn't it, Lena? The actors are young, fresh, and utterly believable. Completely absorbing. :)

Thanks, Sameera. I think she's very guarded, but not actually indifferent. Maybe she'll let down her walls.

A sequel? Hmm...I don't know. Aping Shakespeare is hard enough for one scene... ;)

Yes, it does, Barbara. Sometimes, people find such hope naive, or foolish. But I think it can be ennobling, and beautiful.

Thank you, Charles. I think I'll leave their future to the reader's imagination. Maybe it says something about each individual, in how he sees that unfolding.

I'm glad you liked me geeky math references, Nothingman! I had to mention calculus since I was being so blatantly derivative myself. ;)

And thanks for the kind words!

ChrisEldin said...

I also loved the math references. I want to see Act two!!

(West Side Story is one of my favorite movies. I love that scene.)

Anonymous said...

I finally have time to dip into the currents of this piece properly.

Very well executed with your usual delicious details.

But more than that, I like the delicate, nearly painful dance. A dance of tiny steps and shadow pirouettes. Maybe she saw him in a different way. He already has. Maybe his gravity will be enough to change her path, enough for tides, or even enough to draw them into a system his math can comprehend.

I hope the painful dance goes well.

Sarah Hina said...

Chris, West Side story is one of my favorites, too. I listened to the soundtrack endlessly in high school. "Tonight" and "Somewhere" were personal favorites.

Yes, I was way cool. ;)

Jason, I didn't much care for the Juliet character here. She feels too walled off for me to really understand.

But in reading the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, I found it interesting that most of the scene's power was held by Juliet. Even in their physical positions--her above, him below. I wanted to exaggerate that imbalance here, and make the romance more uncertain, more modern, I guess.

But I do think he reached her. Even through all her fear.

Sheri said...

Sarah, excellent! My favorite line... he widened her circle. I loved how you kept his POV from that mathematical perspective. My husband is also a math geek and he can't help but look at the world through that slant.

"...his hands curled into fists." This also made you just FEEL how badly his hands wanted to touch her knee under the table perhaps, but he fought the urge.

Seriously, how DO you pump these out continuously!!!!!!

Sheri said...

Oh and how could I forget... "This was merely the balcony scene. He still had three more acts." LOVED THIS!

All of your characters are so full of life and individuality. You could totally expand any one of them into a novel.

Aine said...

Though I am a sucker for true love, I do detest game-playing. And that's how I see her. I'd prefer him to move on and find someone who is stronger, more mature, and appreciative of him. In that, I also blame him for chasing someone in the absence of mutual feelings.

And even if she returns affections, as Jason hopes, I daresay their future may not be happy.

Perhaps I am too harsh on her. But I believe that without mutuality it is not true love.

Sorry to get all serious on you... your writing was fabulous. It sucked me in.

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, Sheri! I should catalogue your comments to look at when I'm feeling worthless. ;) I'm still not crazy about this piece, but I'm glad you found some details/sentences that made it work for you.

As for the math angle, I think it's interesting that we often have these preconceptions about what kinds of people are romantic. When really, it's just a matter of experiencing our relationships through wonderfully variant filters.

As for the novel...I can definitely see my expanding one of these vignettes into a novel someday. Even if it's not this one. :)

Don't apologize for getting serious, Aine! I can certainly see your viewpoint.

I don't know that I saw her as game-playing so much as extremely guarded. But I do agree with you that it takes a firm commitment and mutual feeling on both sides to make a relationship work. This pair doesn't have that yet, but perhaps time is their friend. She certainly needs to become more open, though.

Thanks for the comments. :)

Beth said...

I asked you a couple questions a while back about writing these and I need to go find it.

Beth said...

OK, I just read your response way long ago. Yes, I think this would be a fabulous book idea. All different picks with your short stories. So many people just don't have the attention span to read novels so little nuggets would be nice.

Sheri said...

Aine, I didn't read her as game playing. Maybe I am naive. But I saw her as at first really, just not seeing him in that light - he was just her geeky math tutor. But then when he made the comment about his friends calling him Romeo, I read it as it opening her eyes to see he could be more then a math tutor. I saw her as young, and shy, and that she just didn't see him in that way at first at all.

Sarah Hina said...

Beth, I never really thought of throwing all of these vignettes together into a book. Unfortunately, short story compilations are extremely hard to publish, unless you're already a "name." And I'm not sure anyone has successfully published short-short pieces.

Nonetheless, I do look forward to the day when one of these seeds sprouts into a novel. And thanks again for your vote of confidence. :)

Thanks for the lengthier insight, Sheri! I love that you think about these little stories from so many different angles. :)

Yes, I see her as being wary, maybe, but not unkind. At least not intentionally so. I think that when you grow up in a household that feels so contrary to your own nature, sometimes that guardedness develops as a defense mechanism. But it can be worn away, when you realize that you're just hurting yourself.