When she wore that dress, that dress of yellow and purple flowers, we walked for hours and hours around Hershfield Lake. We admired that spring day. Our talk went to thoughts of the future but we knew that was impossible. Our fathers intensely disliked each other.
“Juliet?” I squeezed her hand.
“Yes, Romeo,” she answered, her eyes large and round staring at me as if I had all the answers in the world.
“Let’s get married anyway.”
“It would try our families greatly.”
“They’ll get over it.”
When she wore that dress, that dress of white cotton, we stood before the priest and we committed our lives to one another. We had not told our families yet. That day would come soon. We spoke our I dos with hope and faith and a lot of love that day.
“I pledge thee my troth,” she looked into my eyes and said.
“I pledge thee my troth,” I said, happy as I’d ever been.
When she wore that dress, that dress of bright orange with the brown belt, we went to her father’s house.
“Wait in the car,” she said to me, then kissed me. She opened the passenger door and slammed it behind her. She crossed in front of the car and came to my window. “Say a prayer.”
She entered the house. A few minutes later I heard yelling and screaming from the house. I reached for the door handle to open it. I saw her run out of the house, her father behind her.
“You married that bastard!” her father screamed.
She opened the passenger door and got in.
“Let’s get out of here. He’s crazy.”
I started the engine, backed out of the driveway, turned and headed down the street. In the rearview mirror, I saw her father coming towards us with a rifle. He aimed at us but we were three blocks away and already out of range.
When she wore that dress, that dress of light blue, we drove to my parents. I softly entered the house as she followed me, her hand in mine. Dad sat at the kitchen table, his back to me.
“Dad?” I said.
He turned to me and smiled.
“This is Juliet, John Hazlewood’s daughter. We’re married.”
A stunned look came over his face.
“Yes, sir,” Juliet said, her soft voice filled with hope.
My father looked at me, then her, then me, then he went back to his beer.
He said to me, “Go upstairs and get your mother.”
Afraid, I hesitated.
“Go ahead,” he said. “It’ll be alright. Nothing’s going to happen to your Juliet here, Romeo. After all, a rose by any other name is still a rose.”
When she wore that dress, that dress of navy blue, we drove to the funeral home. Turning onto the drive where the funeral home stood, I drove silently. My father was dead.
“He was a wonderful man,” she said, sitting there in the passenger seat with tears in her brown eyes. “I liked him a lot. And he loved you so much.”
She turned and looked into the backseat at our five-year old towheaded boy.
“And he loved his grandson too,” she said. “Right, Horatio?”
“Yes, Mommy,” Horatio said.
When she wore that dress, that dress of yellow daisies, we walked for hours and hours around Hershfield Lake. We admired that spring day. Our talk went to thoughts of the past. Ten years of marriage and never a fight. The fights always seemed to come from elsewhere. Her father, my job, our son’s illness. But we never spoke a harsh word to each other.
Tears in her eyes, she squeezed my hand, then said, “I miss Horatio.”
“It’s been a year now,” I said, “and I miss him as much as I did the day we got the news.”
When she wore that dress, that dress of gray and green, we met in the doctor’s office. She came out to see me in the waiting room.
“The doctor wants to do some tests. I have to go in the hospital.”
“Is it going to be okay?” I asked, fear in my eyes.
When she wore that dress, her dress of maroon and yellow, she lay in the open coffin. I looked into her dead eyes and thought about what we had together. But now she was with Horatio, and I felt comforted.
“Goodbye, Juliet,” I said and turned to face her father, no anger on his face, no bad will in his eyes, just pain and desperation. He took my hand and, with a tight grip, he shook it.
“If I can do anything,” he said.
“Just love your other kids.”
I passed this hard man who had fathered the gentle spirit I knew as Juliet. I turned back to him and took his shoulder and turned him gently around toward me.
“And thank you, sir,” I said. “For your daughter.”