And Romeo and Juliet Lived Happily Ever After
On the nights my father had me, he would read me a bedtime story but change the ending. The hare always won the race (because I liked bunnies). Goliath would always beat David (because he reminded me of my father). Jack chopped the beanstalk down (because I hated vegetables). This continued throughout high school; although, at night as we sat at his kitchen table, I was the one changing the answers. How’s your mom doing? Is she seeing anyone? Maybe we can all get together soon? She’s good, she hasn’t been on any dates recently, I can ask. When I finally moved into my own place, my father asked if he could stay with me. He had been kicked out of his apartment and needed a couch to sleep on for a couple of days. As he settled in one night, he asked me to sit next to him and tell him a story. Only this time, he said, give me the real ending. I told him that Shakespeare originally intended to keep Romeo and Juliet alive. That he wanted this young couple’s love to survive. My father smiled and said he was glad he didn’t go that route. Stories aren’t supposed to make us happy, he said. They’re supposed to make us feel something real. I asked him how he met my mother, how they had me, how they ended up separated. A sad story, really, he said. He poured himself more whiskey. But the only one I can’t seem to change.
About Adam Conner
Adam Conner currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters.