Empty Juliet

The bell jangled as the front door of Everything Works hardware store opened. My best friend Trisha came parading up in her 4 inch "hooker heels" as I liked to call them. "How do you manage to run all day in those torture devices?"

"They are not torture devices, they are 300 dollar man magnets." She retored.

"Men just like those because it makes your butt look huge."

"That's beside the point. Anyway I came here to discuss my life mission."

"I already know your life mission."

"Then what is it?" she asked in her haughty tone.

"Your life mission is to dance on the stage at Disney with Buzz Lightyear."

"That will still come true. I just need to finish my outfit. Anyway you and I need a road trip. And I know just the place! Remember that one summer when our parents took us to that one park?"

"Oh yeah totally. Wasn't it the one with the trees?"

"No," her haughty tone had toned down to an anxious whisper. "The park with the fountain." She looked up at me with hopeful eyes.

"No. NO. Absolutely not! Do you remember what happened when we revisited it a few years later? Hmmm? Well I DO! We both swore we would never go back. You know what happened. I… I just can't go back." I hung my head in defeat. My bright red shirt was neatly tucked into my khaki cargo pants, and the laces on my work boots were double knotted. My outer appearance was immaculate whereas my insides were turning and tossing their once hastily sewn up pieces about like a hurricane tossing around palm trees.

"Sweety, what are the chances he'll be there? It'll just be for a day. I promise. And then we'll come back and you can resume your crap job." She smiled at me and then batted her eyes. I looked up and then sighed while forcing a sarcastic grin on my face.

"Well I guess you're leaving me no choice. FINE! I'll get the day off."

The city passed by in a blur as we raced to our final destination. As we drew closer my well closed off memories of that summer resurfaced.

The fountain waters spilled over the top bowl and cascaded into the enormous bottom bowl where the children and fun goers lay awaiting the fresh, cool, water to cool their parched skin. I was sitting hesitantly on the edge watching as Trisha splashed and flirted with a tall, pale man about her age.

"Hello stranger." Turning around I found myself faced with a tall, dark haired, shirtless stranger. But it was not the shirtless factor that caught my attention rather it was his icy green eyes that were rimmed with a pale blue. It was just two words and two eyes and yet I felt a tug in my chest that I had never felt before.

"Chrissy? We're here. Are you sure you're gonna be ok with this?"

"I'll be fantastic. Better than fantastic, I'll be superb!" She noticed my over enthusiasm and sighed.

"Alright good because I'm sorry to say, he's here." I whipped my head around and saw him standing in the fountain alone. Despite her absence, I still remembered everything that she had caused.

I walked to his apartment to surprise him because Trisha and I were leaving tomorrow. I had bought food from his favorite Chinese restaurant and had brought his favorite movie. This was going to be perfect. He was my very own Romeo and I was determined to be a good Juliet. I reached 2F and knocked rapidly on the door, bouncing on the balls of me feet impatiently. I felt my excitement leaking over.

He knew my secret. I was afraid of water. Not of drowning. I knew how to swim. But it was the unknown factor of water that terrified me. No one could control it and I had control issues. But, he had spent the past four days trying to convince me to jump in the fountain and tonight I was going to jump in the water with him. I would finally be freed of my fear. I knocked again getting more impatient.

"Hold up, I'm coming!" I stepped back confused. That was the high- pitched jingly voice of a girl. Opening the door was a tall, tan, thin, blond girl confirming my earlier suspicions.

"I-I'm sorry. Um, does a Graham Ransom live here?"

"Yea, he's just in the shower right now." It was then I noticed her wet hair and her secretive grin.

"Oh, um, I just- needed to, um." My breathing was becoming breathier and my tone was headed towards that spot between hysteria and heartbreak.

"Summer, who is it?" Graham came around the corner and took one look at my face before stopping his next sentence and his feet. I acted like any rational person in a stressful situation. I called him a few choice names, threw the food at him, and ran towards the stairs.

That was the last time I saw him and it was the last time I wanted to see him.

"He will not ruin our day." I managed through despair. I grabbed my bag, jumped out of the car, and secured us a seat on the fountain. Peeling off my tank top to reveal a white bikini top with blue stripes. I then considered taking off my denim shorts to reveal the matching bottoms but decided against it. As Trisha jumped into the water, without taking her pink shorts and white tank top off yet, I sat on a perch to watch and draw the fountain.

Just as dusk was settling and I was relieved to have gone the whole day without being noticed by Graham and Summer a deep, husky voice appeared over my shoulder.

"Hey stranger." I looked over and saw Graham standing with a wide grin on his face.

"Goodbye jerk." I retorted.

"No, please stay, I'll behave."

"Graham," a thrill ran through me as I his name rolled off my tongue. "You should've thought of that before." I walked away with my head held high as I congratulated myself over winning that battle and my internal war.

"Still never jumped in the water?" Graham shouted. He still knew what to say to make me pause.

"That's no longer your problem."

"I made you a promise once upon a time Juliet. And Romeo always tries to set his Juliet free."

"But, you cheated."

"I did and it was a mistake. A huge mistake. That was me drinking the poison before seeing if you were dead."

"Wow. Well this is me not taking your knife to stab myself. This is the new Juliet. The one who doesn't obsess over her- I mean a Romeo." He smiled as he realized my slip up. I had almost called him my Romeo.

"I am still your Romeo. I have always been your Romeo. And as your Romeo, I still have a promise to keep." With those words, he had managed to simultaneously dissolve my past anger and grab me and jump into the fountain. As we both came up for air he grabbed my face in both of his hands and kissed me hard on the mouth. That one kiss poured Graham's past sadness and present longing into me and broke any resolve I had left. I wrapped my arms around his neck and deepened the kiss. A few minutes later we came up for air. He smiled even more.

"Miss me Juliet?"