This do I drink to thee! (Romeo and Juliet, IV.iii.)
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Do something capitalist and romantic, like taking your partner out for a nice meal, buying them flowers, or pretending to be dead. On special half-price offer when purchased together with a handy dagger, we proudly present to you Friar Laurence’s Potion.
4 cl Whisky (we’d recommend a fairly mild one like Glenfiddich)
Juice of 2 limes (more if you’re into sour stuff)
A very healthy dollop of woodruff syrup (for colour and sweetness)
Mix everything together and stir well. (Alternatively, if you’re making larger quantities, you can use a shaker and it will come out nice and frothy.) Adjust taste by slightly varying the ratio if you like. Serve to your loved one in a vial while reciting a poem composed in their favour. Might we suggest: “Capulets are red, Montagues are blue; everyone dies, boo hoo hoo.”
I really, really like Keanu Reeves as Don John. Yes, he’s just this flat, vaguely somber, sneering malignance on the edge of everything, but that’s exactly what Don John is. He’s not exactly a world-class villain. He’s not even a Disney-class villain. His motivations are 1) I wanna do what I want when I feel like it, not when other people expect me to, wahhh, and 2) I hate joy so I’m just gonna fuck with people. Keanu!Don John is pretty much exactly what I envisioned.
That said, there were a couple of lines where I winced at his delivery, whereas Simon Tam-as-Don John was weirdly compelling and every word out of his mouth somehow managed to seem perfectly natural. I loved him, too! He’s a lot less DUNDUNDUN curled lip dead eyes eviiiiiil, more of a quiet menace. And it doesn’t seem near as mind-numbingly stupid to have brought him back into the inner circle after waging a war against him.
Okay, in general that particular stupidity doesn’t bother me, as I don’t have a very high opinion of Don Pedro’s faculties in general. But it does add a very different dimension to his character, which is what a Shakespearean performance should do. But Keanu was delightfully charmless, nevertheless.
I taught two 8th grade Shakespeare workshops this morning and during the workshops we did an activity called Punctuation Walk, using “to be or not to be” as the example. When asked about why “to be or not to be” might not fit the normal meter, one student said this:
“It doesn’t fit the meter because Hamlet is undecided. His feelings have manifested in the rhythm of the words.”
The Shipwrecked Maiden (Chapter 1 of Merrily Merrily, a Tempest fanfic)
FANDOM: Shakespeare’s The Tempest
CHARACTERS: Ariel and Rhearn (Original Female Character)
SUMMARY: If Ariel knew the meaning of the word, he would know he was lonely. If he knew how many centuries had passed since his master freed him, he would feel the weight of them. Nothing had changed on his island for hundreds of years…
Until one day something did.
Rhearn didn’t even know how she had reached this ruddy island. All she knew was that the little cottage she was in seemed to be magical, like the Room of Requirement from Harry Potter. How did she keep discovering things she needed at the best possible moments?
Author’s Note: The name Rhearn means “magic maiden”. It suited too well for me to not use it. I think this might be the biggest first chapter I have ever written.
Ariel loved his island.
He was free now, free to flit around and play in the sun for as long as he wanted. He played all day, amusing himself by playing with the animals, prancing around with the deer and flying with the crows, tossing the waters surrounding his island high when he wanted to feel the water splash against him. He spent his night chasing embers sometimes, blowing them away and racing to catch them in his hands over and over. He sang to himself, and danced upon the clouds.
If he knew the meaning of the word, he would realize that he was lonely.
Years passed, then decades, then centuries. Ariel thought of his master often, and of his daughter. It had been too long since Caliban died, and there was no one else to keep Ariel company. But he still didn’t leave the island, for he was happy. Besides, he swam in the waters often.
Every blade of grass, every leaf on this island was known to him. He knew every sound there was to hear. Which is why the sobbing barely registered at first.
He paused in the middle of his swing from tree to tree, high up in the sky. Cocking his head to one side, he tried to listen again. Maybe it had been the ocean nearby. He listened, and no, that was definitely someone crying. Intrigued, all his senses alert, he flew to the coast in the blink of an eye.
It was a maiden.
He stared at her, surprised and excited in equal measure. She was drenched in seawater, on her knees, sobbing piteously. Ariel felt something akin to sympathy. Poor woman, she must be so scared! Ariel walked cautiously forward, but hid behind the very last tree before the sandy beach started. He was certain he would startle her. His master had known magic, and he hadn’t been as surprised to find a spirit in this world. He had said, though, that he had never met one before… So Ariel was just going to look. He wouldn’t want to anger the distressed maiden. What if she had magic?
He looked his fill, from the top of her golden head to the end of her tippy toe. She barely wore anything, it seemed–men’s breaches that stuck to her like a second skin and a shift that showed her naked arms and throat to an extraordinary degree. Ariel wondered if she was cold.
Wonderment shone in his face as he made himself disappear and walked closer. Perhaps he could conjure her a blanket. If she just found a blanket lying about on the ground, she wouldn’t be scared of him, would she? He nodded to himself. He just wanted the pretty girl to stop crying.
The blanket he conjured was a few meters away, white, warm and thick. But she wouldn’t look up. Ariel’s mouth formed a pout. But that just wouldn’t do! He made some random sound to her left, making her look at the blanket.
Her eyes were pretty. They were nothing like the eyes of his master’s daughter, which had been dark. The eyes of this welcome stranger were bright green, wet with the tears she had cried, and very pretty. They widened when she saw the blanket, and she scrambled to grab the blanket and snuggle in it. She looked like a ball of snow.
After a minute or so of rocking herself for comfort, the woman rubbed the back of her hand across her nose and boldly looked around. She was trying to find some help, he was certain.
Ariel wracked his brains to think of other ways to help her, but he couldn’t think of an easy way to just hand her food. How was she supposed to spend the approaching night on the beach? He wanted to help, he really did, but he couldn’t just conjure a hovel for her to stay in….
… He could take her to his master’s old cabin!
Ariel perked up, and he began to sing. Entranced, fascinated, the maiden followed him as he knew she would.
Rhearn had never been this scared in her life.
She was stuck on a remote island with no means of escape available, no one looking for her, and no idea how she was going to survive. She deserved to be a little scared, she thought.
Where was everyone? All she remembered was being on the cruise, with everyone else, trying to fend off Ace’s advances… Had he roofied her? Had she fallen overboard? She had spluttered awake in the water, realized she was drowning, and swam to the nearest shore. There was no sign of civilization at all, she had been here too long for it to be a prank, and she was fucking scared. Here she was, on what she assumed was some sort of an island, with only a mysterious warm blanket to her name. Her face scrunched up as she started to cry again.
The music that started out of nowhere startled her at first. She couldn’t understand what sort of instrument would make a sound like that–ethereal, almost other-worldly. The sweet tones swept into her, beating as one with her heart, and she realized all she wanted to do was hear more. She just wanted to keep listening to it. When it started to fade, she followed it, in a trance.
The music led her into the woods that lined the beach, but Rhearn wasn’t afraid at all. She needn’t be. All she needed to do was follow the music, and she would be just fine. Someone would find her.
She had no idea how long she stumbled around in the forest. All she knew was that her beloved music stopped running away from her. She could hear it up ahead, and she put on a surge of speed and ran into a little clearing, where there sat a tiny hut. The music faded away.
The music had been coming from the hut. How curious.
Too tired and bewildered to think about the music anymore, ecstatic at the prospect of shelter, hoping for a trace of humanity, Rhearn hurried inside.
“Hello? Excuse me, does someone live here?”
The hovel was empty. It seemed to be very old, something you would find on a period drama, a little cottage in the middle of the woods. Rhearn wondered if the three bears would mind her breaking and entering.
The cabin looked old because of the very old, crude wooden table and the old-fashioned fireplace. A doorway leads to what is presumably the bedroom. It is the most spartan cottage she has ever seen, but… But it didn’t have a single cobweb. Or dirt anywhere. How was that possible? Did someone really live here? In a place that definitely belonged to another century? She couldn’t discern anything about this place. Her gaze skittered over the simple kitchen and she felt miserable. There was no food or water, and the cold ocean wind was still keen enough to be felt.
She started moving towards the other room, intent on surviving the coming night. She hoped to find a bed and more warm blankets… Before she could walk through the doorway, she heard a tinkling, bubbling behind her, like a brook flowing through the kitchen. Running water? But there had been no taps…
It wasn’t until she saw the bowl of water that she realized how thirsty she was. How had she missed that bowl sitting so innocently atop the table? She must be more exhausted than she thought.
She knew it was the only water she had, but Rhearn still guzzled it all down in a hurry. Probably not the wisest way to spend her meagre supply, but she couldn’t stop herself. It was only once she had drunk it that she realized the water could have been days old, or even weeks old. Why hadn’t she thought of that before she had drank that? All she needed in this god forsaken place was a stupid, fatal infection because she had been too thirsty to use her brain cells.
If only there were some food too…
Rhearn decided to search the strange little cottage. It was a bit like the room of requirement from Harry Potter, wasn’t it? Giving her whatever she needed? Why not look for some dried fish or whatever before she wandered out in the encroaching darkness to search for fruits?
She did find food in a little cupboard, just not what she was expecting. The door had been a bit stuck, so she had tugged with all her might, and when it jerked open, a cornucopia of fruit had fallen out onto her. The apples, oranges and strawberries weren’t withered and dead like she expected. Instead, they were fresh and fragrant. She would have to pay through the nose for these if she was back in London.
What the fuck?
She had been kidding about the Room of Requirement thing. The universe knew that, right?
Ariel chewed his bottom lip nervously. Was the maiden happy? Did she not like fruits? He wanted her to be happy with his work, even though she couldn’t see him. He wanted to please her. She had stopped crying because of him. He was proud of that.
Was the food too little? How much had his master eaten? He had forgotten completely. The maiden sat with a lapful of fruit, she was still frowning at his offering. Would she like pineapples? Grapes? He could–
She threw her head back and laughed.
He brightened when he realized he had made her happy. He moved closer, silent and invisible, and watched her laugh. She laughed for a very long time, so long that by the end her breath was coming in great, big sobs and her shoulders shaking. Was she laughing? Or was she crying now? Ariel couldn’t tell. He pouted.
She sat there for a while, and he hopped from one toe to the other, wishing she would get up and see what he had done with the bed. He had piled it high with the finest furs to combat the cold. The pillows had been fluffed, and he had even conjured a clean cloth for her to dry herself with. He would dry her himself, but he didn’t want her to be afraid of him. He still remembered how confused people got when he used his qualities in an evident manner. He didn’t want her to leave. She was… different. He wanted her to like him.
She did get up eventually, and walked through to the bed chamber. He followed, leaping almost to the point of flying in his excitement. His gaze was on her face, and he thought the wonder and amazement on her face was good. It was, wasn’t it? She wasn’t disgusted. That meant she was happy with it. Oh, how he wished she would say something! His master always told him what he thought of his tricks, of his service. The maiden was just… silent.
Sweet baby Jesus.
Rhearn could have wept with joy when she saw the giant bed. All the aches and pains in her body suddenly made themselves known to her. Still munching the apple she had grabbed, Rhearn pressed her hand to the bed and put all her weight on it. It didn’t collapse. Happy with the structural integrity of the thing, Rhearn chucked the core to the corner of the room, used the coarse cloth lying on the top of the bed, and toed off her boots, ready for bed. The failing light of the setting sun was illuminating the room well, and she wanted to be asleep before the room went dark.
She thought once again of the three bears finding her, cross that she had eaten her hibernation stock. Or perhaps the seven dwarfs would find her. She started worrying again, fidgeting on the bed, tired but too worked up to go to sleep. What was she doing, simply accepting these random finds of hers? And was she just that lucky? To wash ashore, then find shelter, water and food in quick succession? Was she dreaming all this? Had Ace really put something in her drink?
Her breathing was starting to get out of control again. She tried to calm down.
The music started again.
Her startled yelp pierced the empty, dark room. It didn’t seem like the music was coming from outside. It felt like it was inside her own mind. What the hell?
Before she could worry about it, she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.