Romeo and What’s Her Name
by Shani Petroff
Publication date: February 7th 2017
Published by: Swoon Reads
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Understudies never get to perform
. . . which is why being Juliet’s understudy in the school’s yearly “Evening with Shakespeare” is the perfect role for Emily. She can earn some much-needed extra credit while pursuing her main goal of spending time with Wes, aka Romeo, aka the hottest, nicest guy in school (in her completely unbiased opinion). And she meant to learn her lines, really, it’s just:
a) Shakespeare is HARD,
b) Amanda, aka the “real” Juliet, makes her run errands instead of lines, and
c) there’s no point because Amanda would never miss the chance to be the star of the show.
Then, Amanda ends up in the hospital and Emily, as the (completely unprepared!) understudy, has to star opposite the guy of her dreams. Oops?
I stood there like a lump, waiting for my line. Finally, I turned toward Kayla and repeated, “I said, LOUDER-ETH.”
She fed me the line again. Supercrazy loud this time. “I would not for the world.”
It was so loud, the crowd heard it and started to laugh. Not the snickers from before, but those evil, full belly laughs people get when watching home videos of someone getting kicked in the groin. Wes was going to hate me for putting him through this. This torture needed to end.
“Methinks,” I said, “I could use-eth a book-eth.” Come on, Kayla. Take the hint. “You know-eth. A BOOK-ETH where-est I can recite-eth beauteous words to thee . . . thou . . . whatever. I NEED THE BOOK-ETH.”
As I was shouting that last book-eth, I got my wish. The script came sailing from off stage left and hit me in the back of the head. “Ow,” I unintentionally yelled, to the delight of the crowd. It weighed a ton.
“Sorry,” Kayla whispered. “My bad.”
I didn’t care. I’d get over the pain faster than the embarrassment I was suffering. I was just happy to have the script. At least I was until I realized Kayla hadn’t bookmarked the page I needed. It was the complete works of Shakespeare. There was no way I would find the right page. Not to mention that since the book was with me, Kayla couldn’t even feed me lines anymore. R&J wasn’t a tragedy. My life was.
I was so flunking English.
“Would thou like some help, my sweet Juliet?”
Did Wes just call me sweet? I swung around to face him, but I wasn’t paying attention to where I was stepping and my foot went right off the balcony. Wes lunged forward to catch me, but why would anything go right for me? So instead of Wes stopping me from hitting the floor, I took him down with me.
I was lying on top of Wes Rosenthal. Only, this was not like any of my daydreams. This was mortifying. I rolled off him and jumped up. “Are you okay?” I was visibly shaking.
Wes stood up, too. “Don’t worry-eth, Juliet,” he said without any anger in his voice. He even smiled at me. For a second I thought that meant he didn’t hate me for the craziness I was causing. But then I remembered he was acting. He actually took what he was doing seriously, and right now his part called for him to be in love with Juliet.
Wes said some line I assumed was to get us back on track. But I had no response. I couldn’t take it anymore. The laughter of the audience. The panic coursing through my body. The thought of making Wes suffer more. It needed to end.
So I did the only thing I could think of—something super Elizabethan. I put the back of my and to my forehead, pretended to swoon, and let my whole body fall back to the ground with a loud thump.
“I am so sorry-eth, Romeo.”
“It’s okay.” He sat down on the ground next to me and took my hand. I felt little sparks fly through me.
I shook my head. I couldn’t let him go through this anymore. “No, I know how-eth this play end-eth. I think I shall stab-eth myself now to save-eth us both.”
“Finally,” someone in the audience yelled out.
I picked up an imaginary dagger and began to plunge it into my heart.
“No,” Wes said, stopping me before I committed imaginary suicide. “Our story is not over yet. So let’s just say, ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night ‘til it be morrow.’”
I was pretty sure that was supposed to be my line. But I decided I probably shouldn’t point that out. Then he stood up and walked off the stage.
After a moment, someone finally took mercy on me and brought the stage lights down.
The scene was over. But I knew all too well that my embarrassment was just beginning.
Shani Petroff is a writer living in New York City. She's the author of the “Bedeviled” series, which includes Daddy’s Little Angel, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Dress, Careful What You Wish For, and Love Struck, and is the co-author of the "Destined" series which includes Ash and Ultraviolet. She also writes for television news programs and several other venues. When she’s not locked in her apartment typing away, she spends a whole lot of time on books, boys, TV, daydreaming, and shopping online.