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Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.

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Perhaps it went like this.

Juliet stared at the vial in her hand and she thought to herself, "Is faking my own death really the way to go here?"

She wrote then a long rambling letter to her mother and her father. In it she listed her grievances and they were many. She underlined the ones wherein in particular she had been grieved against. She underscored deeply. She cut herself and sealed it in blood to let them know her heart's deep seriousness.

She put on some page's clothes that she had in her closet and, dressed as a boy, she climbed down the balcony. For what Romeo might climb up, might not Juliet climb down?

She took with her a lute and what moneys she had and she set off down the road. After she had been walking some short time, she was weary in her feet and despaired of reaching Mantua.

As she despaired, she came down the hill and saw a party of ladies just off of the road. They were feasting by moonlight. They had a great fire that looked very warm. She approached them and bowed before the great lady at the center of the feast. She said, "Oh, great lady, if I play for a time, would you let me sit by your fire?"

The great lady's hair spilled in Titian red curls and her skin sparkled as if with tiny fairy lights. She laughed. "We welcome all musicians here in our company, little one." She waved to the fire.

Juliet sat by the fire and she played a love song for that was all that was in her heart.

The great lady called out, "Peaseblossom, bring this child wine for love is in the air."

Peaseblossom brought Juliet rich wine and she drank it.

She sat by the fire and she played a love song for that was what swelled in her heart.

The great lady called out, "Cobweb, bring this child sweet food for love is in the air."

Cobweb brought Juliet sweet food and she ate it.

Juliet played for a long time. She played every long song that she knew until the great lady cried out, "Enough. You are fair to breaking my heart. Come sit beside me and watch my ladies entertain us."

Juliet sat beside the great lady. She drowsed for the rich wine and the rich food. She saw wonderful things. She saw lights consume lights and things be made to appear and disappear. The night stretched long. The great lady kept her near her throughout the long night as the stars appeared to wheal above them in the sky.

Finally, Juliet slept. When she woke, she was alone in a bare field covered in dew. She laughed at herself and went on her way. But the road had changed overnight. It was now covered in black stone with a yellow line down the center.

Great metal chariots raced down it. She inquired at a way station along the road and they looked at her. A woman asked, "Are you in a play?"

Juliet was in no play. Except it seemed as she glanced at the broadsheets that were on display at the waystation that she had slept some five hundred years in that field.

She wept then and cursed fairy wine.

That is perhaps what might have happened.

What also might have happened is as she walked down the road, she did not leave it for the camp with its fire. She kept walking all the night through.

As she walked, the road curved down along the sea. Perhaps she was overtaken by a group of pirates. They said, "What have you there, boy?"

She said, "Nothing but a few coins, which you may take, and my lute, which I beg of you leave me. For by it I make my way in the world." It was true, she intended to use it to make her way.

The lead pirate, a swarthy fellow with a hook for a hand, said, "We will take your coins and your lute."

She fell to her knees. "Please spare my life. I love someone as I have breath in my body. He is the most beautiful boy in all the world."

The lead pirate waved his hook. "Ah, that is well then. I will take you as my prisoner. For I have long needed someone for accompaniment as I play upon my harpsichord on my ship."

So they took her on board the Jolly Roger and the lead pirate, Captain James Hook, had spoken truthfully. He did play upon a harpsichord and was in search of accompaniment.

She may have been sick for a time with love and even bled of it. She begged to be with the one she loved. But the Captain would not let her go.

Every day in fact, she would ask to be released to go to the one she loved. Every day, the Captain would glare at her and tell her to pick up her lute. When they were not playing, the Captain had her serving as his cabin boy, for she did not feel it proper to betray her sex, and bid her to sleep in a bunk over his own that she entered by way of a ladder.

They sailed seas rough and calm. She saw the green spark that occurs when the water is still. She saw lights in the sky when they sailed farther north than she had ever been. She saw whales of white battle great creatures with tentacles that made the ocean roar.

They sailed south to blue waters where the Captain said, "Boy, you can join the lads swimming if you like. We'll not kill you for it. Perhaps."

Through all of this, she clung to her page's clothes. She shook her head and did not swim for to do so would have betrayed her sex.

Every day she would ask to be released to be with the one she loved. After a time, it seemed as if years had gone by. She had grown several inches and the Captain joked that she'd grow whiskers soon enough. She told him, "That will take some doing, sir," and played a new melody on the lute.

By the time that she had finished with growing, she could not have said what Romeo looked like for some time had passed. She'd have looked in the Captain's log, but she feared to know the truth of it.

She cursed herself as fickle for the face that came to her then as she thought of love had a very different cast.

The morning came that she did not ask to be released.

Captain Hook said, "You haven't asked to be released today. Well then, get it over with. It's like waiting for my morning's tea. I find I cannot start my day without it."

"No, Captain, I haven't asked today." She glanced at him and smiled. Even though she was wed to another, she kissed him then which he returned in kind.

There was some surprise on his part when he exclaimed. "You're not a boy at all!"

She pulled away. "Is this a problem?"

"No, no problem." He said and proved it.

Perhaps then by midday, they changed course across the sea toward the third star on the right.

That may have been what happened.

It may also be that Juliet never even headed down the road to Mantua.

She may have gone up to the nunnery where Rosaline was deep in thought with her herbs. Rosaline may have gathered her weeping cousin up and said, "You can ask for sanctuary here. I will speak with the Mother Superior."

Juliet may have taken sanctuary with her cousin while her parents raged at the gate. But the Mother Superior was most kind. She most firm. She said to them, "Your daughter has chosen to be a bride of Christ and not of man."

Juliet was therefore most ashamed as her belly curved outward with the sign that she had lain with a man. Rosaline sighed when she realized it. Juliet was quick to say, "I married Romeo first. This child will be born in wedlock."

Rosaline sighed again. "You have married Romeo, who swore he loved me, and swore he loved you, and now lives in Padua with his landlord's daughter."

Rosaline held Juliet in her arms as she wept love's tears. She kept her secret as well. All through the long months, she protected Juliet and saw to it that no one guessed.

She kept her close to her in the Herbarium. She taught Juliet during that time too. She read to her from Hildegard of Bingen's Physica. She taught her to understand its secrets. They played together their own variations of Hildegard of Bingen's Symphonia armoniae celestium revelationum. Juliet upon the lute and Rosaline upon the Sacbut. Rosaline spoke to Juliet of what it meant to Rosaline to be a bride of Christ. She spoke with her of viriditas, of greenness as a reconciliation of the earthly and the heavenly. At first, it seemed cold comfort to Juliet, but as she had to hide the ever growing swell of her body, she took some comfort from among the growing things in the garden.

Rosaline was with Juliet when she gave birth in secret to a sweet girl with open eyes. Rosaline took the child then. She took it and abandoned it at the gate to the nunnery. She waited three or five breaths and then discovered the child who had been so heartlessly abandoned.

She took the child to the Mother Superior and said, "This child has been abandoned at our gates. I found her there. Do you think it is fit that we should raise this girl here?"

The Mother Superior said, "Yes, it is fit. Will you care for the child this night until we can find milk with which to feed her?"

"I will," said Rosaline. "I and my cousin will care for her." She took the child back to Juliet, who held her daughter through the night. They named her Celia, that she might be able to see what was there.

Celia had a hundred mothers in the nunnery, but she was always especially close to Rosaline, who had found her at the gate, and to Juliet, who doted on her especially and taught her to play the lute.

That is perhaps what happened.

It's also perhaps true that Juliet took another road to Mantua entirely. One less traveled. That she arrived in Mantua to find that Romeo had never arrived because of sickness. She sweated with the sickness of love. Or perhaps it was illness and there in Mantua, she died waiting.

It's also perhaps true that she was merely sick with love. Women have loved and died and worms have eaten them, but no one ever died of love. Perhaps Romeo came to her with the sweet cure of his lips. In wedded bliss, they were joined.

If in some months, they realized they were to be parents, it were no impediment to their love. Late night feedings, sleepless nights while struggling to live upon Romeo's thin stipend these were perhaps impediments. When words of love gave way to angry shouts.

Perhaps they weren't impediments at all. He loved and she loved and little Tiana loved. They all laughed and loved in their little house in Mantua that was ever filled with the sound of lute music.

Perhaps.

Perhaps.

Perhaps.