Echo

echo-girl-2

Photo From Pixabay. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Echo

The eyes staring back at me are heavy-lidded and bruised. Stretches of deep purplish chasms encircle irises as flat and brown as bark, their expression the same as ever: accusatory, distrusting, nervous…a clear fuck you and fuck off if ever there was one. I raise one dark eyebrow in silent challenge and am rewarded as she does the same. The corner of her sharp mouth turns down into a sneer and I can’t help but notice that her lips are chapped, marred with tiny indents and tears from gnawing teeth. They stand stark red against the pallor of her skin.

Ugly.

I no sooner think the word then I see it spread slantwise across her brow in inky, determined strokes, written into her skin by an invisible hand. Ugly. The word means the same even when it’s beautifully penned, with curlicues and flourishes, a deep onyx atop porcelain skin. Ugly. Her bitten mouth and hate-filled eyes. Ugly. The endless litany of words tattooed across her flesh, a lifetime’s collection of thoughts and conversations emblazoned forever for the world to see.

Ugly.

I tear my eyes from her in disgust, feeling the contents of my stomach rise, and force myself to continue reading. “For never was there a story of more woe…”

Personally, I can’t help but think Juliet had a simple life all things considered…but it’s no good, I can’t concentrate anymore. The memory of that face haunts me and I sigh, rubbing a hand over my tired eyes in frustration. If I look up, she’ll still be staring at me. Challenging me. Dammit.

This is why I avoid mirrors.

 

I have the whole of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet memorized. Word for word I know every pause, every phrase inside and out. From the first Two households to the final Romeo I can recount the entire play in five hours and seventeen minutes. Of course the words scrawl themselves across my skin as I go, some flashing and fading almost as soon as they appear, while others stake a claim to my flesh, refusing to fade back into obscurity as the play unfolds. I’ve acquired many words this way over the years: the slender rose that follows the arch of my left brow, the bold Mercutio – my favorite of Shakespeare’s characters – that straddles my jutting hip. Since every thought and spoken word reveals itself, I’ve learned to keep Shakespeare on a constant repeat in my head, like a broken record of beautiful words. If I have to be encased by words then I want them to be the work of a master.

I’d like to think the grandeur of his phrases counterbalance the barrage of stupid ones that have stuck for some reason or another over the years. Unconsciously, I glance down at the tiny shampoo curling down the side of my pinky from nail to palm and roll my eyes. I know they don’t, but I live in hope.

My eyes flicker upwards again before I can stop them, as gluttonous as ever for punishment, but this time it’s not myself I see, it truly is a stranger. Startled, I bury my nose back in my book before I remember I don’t need to hide, the library is my private sanctuary, especially in the middle of summer. He’s the one out of place.

Still, I lean forward, shaking my head slightly until the mass of brown-black hair falls against my cheeks, better covering my face and neck. My exposed fingers itch for the gloves I shed as soon as I arrived but putting them on now would do nothing but draw attention and it’s too hot in here for the damn things anyway.

I’m bristling now. Agitated.

Why is he here? I want to leave but I refuse to be driven out. Instead I fume. Silently cursing the stranger and whatever drove him to interrupt my peace. Well… as close to peace as I ever come. Doesn’t he know who haunts this place? I sneak a glance at him beneath lowered lashes. He doesn’t look familiar… with a jolt I realize the book he’s reading does though. I would recognize that peeling leather binding anywhere, let alone the tea still staining the tops of the pages from a mishap years ago. Hamlet.

Hmmm.

At least he appreciates the work of a true artist.

Inexplicably soothed, I return to my own copy of Shakespeare and finish the final line: than this of Juliet and her Romeo. On their own accord, my fingers flip back the pages, turn back the story to the prologue. Certainly Shakespeare’s finale is beautiful, but I always hate when the story ends. It’s not the sadness of the characters’ fate, everyone dies, but the thought that there are finally no more words that ruffles me. In fair Verona where we lay our scene.

He’s definitely a stranger. Early thirties I would guess, a few years older than myself, with dark, chin-length hair, broad, powerful shoulders and long legs that stretch out beneath the table he’s claimed. Casually hunched, his head rests in one palm, eyes downward, his whole being absorbed by what he’s reading. Even his lips move along, forming each new word in silence, completely enraptured. I recognize the sight.

I’m watching him, I know, but I can’t help it. He’s intriguing, and handsome – there’s no use denying it. Without warning, he looks up. His eyes are a bright blue with a hint of sage green, an odd, singular mixture. His expression is dreamy at first, lost in thought until his gaze sharpens and his eyes lock on me, seeing me at last. Heat rises beneath my skin and I look down in time to see desirable scroll along the outer curve of my wrist. Mortified, I snatch my hands to my chest and force myself to keep reading. My only love sprung from my only hate. Too early seen unknown and known too late. I swear, sometimes I just want to shake Juliet and tell her to wake the hell up.

The desirable hasn’t faded.

Seconds tick by, minutes, how long I’m not sure. I keep reading, keep my eyes trained on the words, until the fire leaves my skin and my fingers relax their death-grip on my forearms. I really should leave now, but I can’t get my legs to move. Maybe he’s gone, maybe he’s left already. I should check but I can’t do that either. I’m stuck here, locked inside myself with the words of Shakespeare ringing in my mind, but I’m not listening to them anymore. I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave.

“Hello.”

I consider it a personal miracle that I don’t fall out of my chair.

His voice is directly in front of me. Too close for him to still be sitting. I glance upward, unwilling to face him completely head on, and find that he’s standing just on the other side of my wooden table, hands clasped behind his back and a smile on his lips. For a moment we just stare at one another until I realize he’s waiting for me to say something. Good luck with that. I nod jerkily and his grin grows wider. My eyes narrow, looking for malice or ridicule, but I find neither.

“Do you mind if I join you?” His words are warm, like an embrace, his voice deep, cultured. He’s definitely not from here. Why? I don’t ask, won’t ask, but I let my gaze travel from him to the empty chair and back. He understands and within seconds we’re eye to eye, staring again. I feel his gaze as he takes in the words marking my face, or what he can see of it. I let him look.

“Do they not all fade? The others, when you were reading, they disappeared, but these are still here.” He touches his brow and I know he’s looking at the rose. His gaze is soft, thoughtful as he brings his eyes back to mine. I shake my head. His friendliness make me nervous. People are never this calm around me.

“I’ve never seen a girl wear Shakespeare so prettily.” My eyes are rolling and I release an exasperated sigh before I can stop myself. But he’s chuckling and I find I’m smiling. It’s a small smile. But still. “I’m Sebastian.”

My name flickers to life on the back of one hand, getting his attention. “Tara,” he reads quietly. “That’s a beautiful name.” I’ve never thought so, but it sounds different when he says it.

“I would ask what you’re reading, but I think I can guess.”

The look I give him needs no translation but he just smiles and his eyes take on that faraway look again.

 “Let me be ta’en. Let me be put to death. I am content, so thou wilt have it so. I’ll say yon grey is not the morning’s eye. ‘Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow. Nor that the lark, whose notes so beat the vaulty heaven so high about our heads. I have more care to stay than will to go. Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so.

My excitement is instantaneous and insuppressible, surprising even me. With a clap of enthusiasm, I nod happily, while a smile, a real one, tips my lips upward. My fingers find the frayed cover of my book and I press it to my heart. Beautiful flashes beneath my right eye, reflected back at me from a glass case close by.

“Beautiful,” he repeats. He’s staring at me again, but I don’t mind. He’s not judging… just looking. I tuck a lock of hair behind my ear and point to the book he brought with him.

“I’m a little rusty on my Hamlet,” he admits with a wince. “I haven’t read it since high school actually, but I have an audition later and I figured a little Shakespeare never hurt anyone.”

An audition?

“I’m an actor,” he says, answering my unspoken question, then chuckles, shoving a hand through his dark hair, sweeping it out of his eyes. “Or so I keep telling myself.”

I don’t know what to make of this but I’m intrigued and I don’t want him to stop speaking. I’m leaning forward now, nodding slightly. Something passes over his features but it’s gone in an instant and his beautiful smile is back and those bright eyes are fixed on mine.

“What about you?”

My mouth curves downward and I sit back in my seat in dissatisfaction. I don’t want to talk about me. He sees this, sees my withdrawal, but doesn’t change the subject or ask another question. He just waits. Seconds pass by. My heart thumps like an anvil in my chest. What does he want me to say? What I am?

A freak. Ugly. Monster. Word-collector. Shakespeare-reader. Lonely. Angry.

I’m all these things but I don’t want to say these things to this man, though I’m sure they’re etched somewhere on me right now. But he isn’t looking for them. He’s waiting. Giving me time to decide what I want to say, if I want to say anything. If for no other reason, this makes me want to speak.

What am I?

I don’t even think I know. I’ve never been able to choose what to tell someone before, it’s almost as frightening as having no choice at all.

What am I?

It really shouldn’t be this difficult.

It’s not until his fingers settle over mine, like warm butter curving around to encase my hand that I realize how tense I am. A sigh escapes me before I can stop it and I’m sucking in air like someone who’s nearly drowned. His hand is stroking mine; warm, beautiful skin against, pale, inked skin. It’s almost hypnotic. I can’t remember the last time someone has touched me. I try to pull away, embarrassed at myself, the situation, his kindness, but his hand tightens on mine, catching me before I can escape.

There’s another choice here.

I let him keep my hand. His fingers curve against the inside of my wrist, stroking my palm with some strange magic that both calms and excites me. I manage a small smile in thanks but the irony of the situation leaves me almost giddy and lightheaded. Words. Words. Words. My life is nothing but words, I take them in and spit them out, and now they’ve failed me. What would Shakespeare think?

Frailty, thy name is woman.

Ha. Shakespeare’s so damn applicable.

With a reckless, unexplainable grin that feels so strange, and foreign, and wonderful, I meet his eyes again and shrug. I have no idea how to tell him who or what I am. I guess if he really wants to know he’ll just have to wait and find out.

Smile-lines crinkle around those blue eyes and my stomach flips into my throat. “An enigma then. I figured as much.”

 

 

Two days later and wouldn’t you know it, the Daily Prompt is Silence . Coincedence? I think not! 😀

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Ornate

The challenge this week is Ornate my lovelies, so I figured a little trip to a beautiful church (Holy Trinity in Stratford-upon-Avon) in England with some ornate and gorgeous stained glass windows was in order… And by the way, this happens to be where Shakespeare himself rests eternally after penning some of the greatest works in the English language! I hope you enjoy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And finally, one from the beautiful Casa Monica back home in St. Augustine:

Photo Friday: Home 8

Violent Delights and Violent Ends

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Being the self-proclaimed romantic that I am my lovelies, I think it’s pretty much a given that I LOVE Shakespeare’s immortal tragic love story: Romeo and Juliet. LOVE it. Like crazy. Seriously. You can say whatever you want about it being impractical, it was just lust that led to murder and death, yadayadayada, I don’t really care, I just am nutty about this story, in all it’s incarnations (Pyramus and Thisbe, Tristan and Isolde etc.). There’s just something stirring and intoxicating and just unforgettable about the love of these two young people forced to hide their forbidden relationship from their warring families. (Personally I’ve always been a Montague girl myself, but that’s neither here nor there lol.) And over the years I’ve read the play countless times, both in school and out and watched pretty much every Romeo and Juliet movie I could find. My ninth grade English teacher even made us memorize the prologue as we marched up and down the sidewalks outside our classroom. She then proceeded to teach us how to “dance” like they would have back in the day, you know, because teenagers aren’t self-conscious enough without having to pair off, nearly press their palms together, and stare the opposite sex in the eye whilst they try not to die of embarrassment as they waltz in circles. Sigh…

Image From Bing.  Because High School wasn't hard enough...

Image From Bing.
Because High School wasn’t hard enough…

But either way, as I was saying, I’ve watched a good many Romeo and Juliet movies, but only three of them have stayed with me, for one reason or another: the 1968 Romeo and Juliet, the 1996 Romeo + Juliet, and the 2013 Romeo & Juliet. Each one is vastly different than the others, whether in design, speech, or overall effect, (not to mention the differing ways to represent the word “and”) but each of them contains something that just hits home with me and for one reason or another I find myself drawn to these dramatically different representations of the same story.

Image From Bing.

Image From Bing.

The ’68 version is the quintessential old-timey Shakespearian masterpiece, with beautiful actors with light-filled eyes, and a kind of realistic charm that just screams Romeo and Juliet. I mean really, can these two be more prefect for each other? I think not. Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting are just amazing together and I just love watching them fall in love onscreen with that beautiful music playing in the background and the light gleaming in their eyes (seriously, have you noticed how much their eyes are like infused with light in this version? It’s just gorgeous.) And I don’t know why but there’s just something utterly romantic about older films, they just seem more special than their newer counterparts!

Image From Bing.

Image From Bing.

That being said, I have been head-over-heels in crazy love with the 1996 version since I first saw it when I was a teenager (which probably meant it had been out for seven or eight years lol). It’s over the top Baz Luhrmann fun and drama with the beauty of Shakespeare’s language set against the gritty glamour of ’90s Miami and I love every minute of it! This movie for me IS Romeo and Juliet. The music, the acting, the craziness, everything! If Shakespeare could perform this play to modern audiences, I’m sure this would be the way he chose to do so. This film just goes all out there, it’s high-stakes drama with no apologies and no shame and THIS is what this play is all about. And I just love the juxtaposition of the dated and beautiful language with the harsh but sexy modern edge of the setting, I just think it bring the work to life in a whole new way. And hands down, this movie contains my favorite Mercutio (my favorite Shakespeare character ever) and for me, that’s saying something! (It also has my favorite lead couple, Leo and Claire are but brilliant together!) The emotion of this movie is just on-point and I still get chills when Romeo walks down the neon lit tomb to reach his believed-to-be-dead Juliet. And Kissing You…yeah like the most romantic love ballad ever!

Image From Bing.

Image From Bing.

And last, but certainly not least, I added a new version to my list of favorites a few months ago. Now you know how much I adore Downton Abbey my lovelies, so when I heard the writer of Downton was rewriting and directing this version, I was immediately sold! That being said, I was promptly disappointed and extremely pissed off when I finally got a chance to see this film. The wording was altered, the beautiful verses and phases I know from heart, uprooted and stitched back together by someone clearly more accustomed to writing for Downton viewers and that was enough for me to begin fuming for the rest of the movie. It took me a few months to calm back down and give this one another try (as I admittedly have this weird thing about watching new movies, catch me on the wrong day and I’ll hate them no matter how great they are) but once I allowed myself to watch the movie again (with the full knowledge that the words were messed up completely) I realized that the movie is unusually beautiful. Nearly every scene in this movie is just breathtakingly lovely and just serves to pull you in to the belief that this crazy story could actually happen. They leads were gorgeous, and while they were not my favorite of the Romeo’s and Juliet’s, they did a great job and I’m pleased to say I like this movie more and more every time I watch it again!

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

Image From Google. All Rights Belong To Artist.

What about you my lovelies, do you have a story that you follow passionately through all it’s varying forms? Do you have a favorite Romeo and Juliet? Let me know!

 

Intruder Thy Name Is Love Triangle

Hello everyone, I’m back and feeling a heck of a lot better! *Happy Dance* I just want to say thank you all for the massive amount of feedback (in both likes and comments) you gave my last post. I found it quite surprising, considering I didn’t think anyone outside my regular readers (whom I love!) would actually read that post and I only wrote it so that you would know I hadn’t callously abandoned you for the week. But wow, the response was the largest I’ve ever had on this blog; so thank you all, it truly made my week(end)!

And now that I’m feeling more like myself and less like a pathetic blob of ick, I think it’s high time to finally write the blog idea that’s been floating around my mind for the last week or so (it’s been driving me crazy lol). But before I begin, I have to say that last week this idea also came to one of my favorite blogging duos: Mystic Cooking (I’m sorry ladies, I don’t know how to make a clickable link so your site, but everyone should go check them out!). When I first read their post I nearly fell out of my chair with elated and confused shock (I even had the same title picked out as they used!) and for quite a few dazed moments I thought they were mind-readers and how cool/bizarre was that! It took me a couple of minutes to realize that the more likely explanation was that great bloggers just think alike 😀 And with their encouragement I decided to go ahead and write my opinion on the matter that occupied our thoughts; so thank you ladies!

I think it’s safe to say that I’m a drama enthusiast when it comes to books, movies, television shows, musicals, and all that good stuff that makes the world a happier place. Notice that I left real life out of that list; I like to be entertained by drama, not live it. Most of the time anyway. There’s nothing I love more than a good, drama-filled romance or perilous decision-making accompanied by a sudden outburst into song that will leave me breathless as I try to belt along with it, but I’ve noticed that there’s a “new” trend sneaking not so subtly into my entertainment world. Intruder thy name is Love Triangle (I love Shakespeare, lol!). They’re everywhere! Think about it, there’s: Peeta vs. Gale in The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) , Jacob vs. Edward in Twilight (Stephenie Meyer), Damon vs. Stefan in the Vampire Diaries (T.V.), the Phantom vs. Raoul (I’m thinking musical here, but the book works as well), Heathcliff vs. Edgar in Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte), and on and on until your head wants to explode. It seems the entertaining world of books and visual media has become nothing but a collection of sport-related “teams” battling it out to decide who the better guy is and why he should end up with the girl since clearly the other guy is a loser/jerk/whatever!

The Phantom Of The Opera Photo Courtesy Of Google

And I’m not going to lie, I have my opinions like everyone else (Peeta, Jacob, Damon (Yum), the Phantom, and Heathcliff) and there is a part of me that does enjoy defending/discussing my choices every now and then. But there’s also another part (that seems to be taking over) that’s tired of it all and is dying to scream “ENOUGH ALREADY! Find something new to write about for crying out loud!” I think the basic plot has been used, reused, and over-used far too much here recently; it was fun the first few times but now it’s time to move on to the next fad before people go insane. Love triangles make for good drama, high rating, and enormous sales, I get it but sooner or later people are going to have to just move on and let the concept go. Give it a rest for a few years and then bring it back or something. What happened to the good old days where there was just one guy and one girl and the reader/viewer easily knew who to root for and all womankind could bond over the fact that we all loved the same person? I miss those days. There’s just something so comforting knowing that there is only one right answer; and I know that isn’t lifelike or realistic all the time, but really, sometimes I just want the illusion.

Couple Photo Courtesy Of Facebook

Of course, there are ways to employ the love triangle and have only one obvious choice (it’s called compromise). Just look at Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: you’ve got Elizabeth, Darcy, and Wickham and all the drama that people crave with love triangles but there is a clear right answer and everyone roots for Darcy in the end. The happy medium works for me. I just don’t like repeatedly falling in love with a guy only to have him be broken-hearted and rejected in the end, or worse, have a hastily made happy ever after constructed out of thin air for him (copout cough cough). If there are going to be two suitors competing, then one of them should have some horrible flaw or something that effectively puts him out of the running (not in all cases of course, but most).

Pride And Prejudice Film Poster Courtesy Of Google

And what I find the most amusing is that I employ love triangles in my novels as well (it took me a while to realize this oddly enough because I never think of the other guy as having any real chance). There are times when two men both love the same woman in one or two of my novels, but there is always one right answer that my female protagonist comes to (at least I think so, we’ll see what the world thinks when they’re published, lol) and I try to make sure the reader understands that early on so that there is no confusion later. So I guess I’m a hypocrite, but at least I admit it.

There are times when I adore love triangles, there are times when I hate them, and funny enough, there are actually times when I use them. When I first thought about this blog idea I thought all I wanted to do was bash love triangles, but having the past week to really think about it made me realize that when it comes down to it, I’m a big ball of conflicted confusion. My thoughts on the subject are ephemeral and change with my mood, but generally it comes down to this: a little bit of a good thing goes a long way, but right now the media is drowning us in something that is far too potent a subject.

What do y’all think? Do you love, hate, or use love triangles and why? Or are you just as conflicted as I am? What are your favorite uses of the love triangle? Least favorite?