Dearest Nurse

Writer Yen-Rong Wong reimagines the desire and passion Juliet had for Romeo through a letter to Juliet’s nurse

Dearest Nurse,

I know we have not been on the best of terms lately but seeing as though we will not be together for very much longer, I write this letter in an attempt to explain myself as best I can. I know it may be insufficient, but I feel like I owe it to you to at least try.

This rush I have been feeling since I met Romeo is indescribable, yet it courses through my veins. Sometimes it is red-hot, hot enough to make me want to rip my skin off just to cool down, but other times it is a soft rush, like the way I feel when I brush my hands through a bed of flowers. I can feel him with me even now, even though he is far away, and not to return. It is something I have never felt before. Sometimes I feel like it is unsustainable, that I cannot possibly endure another day of such rolling emotion. And yet I relish in it. I did not know love could exist in such forms, twisting and turning and knotting together; all these feelings binding Romeo to me and me to him.

My family keep telling me it is impossible for me to be in love, let alone with him. They do not say his name, as if saying it out loud would be poison on their tongues. They tell me I do not know what love is. They assume I will come to my senses eventually, as if I am not already in control of my senses now. These are the same people who seem to have planned out my life for me already, people who think they know who I am, but have not bothered to talk to me or even ask me how I feel. Is this how the world works? If so, I do not want any part of it.

I have been a good girl my whole life. You know this, I think. I hope. I have not wanted for much, except for this. You have been the keeper of my burdens, my dreams, my secrets. You have been a better mother than my mother has ever been – being the lady of the Capulet household seems to be more important to her than her own daughter. I crave her attention, which she doles out in ever-smaller portions. I want her to see me, to really see me, but I fear all she sees is what I am worth to her in terms of her social standing.

I want for so many things. A wooden jewellery box to replace my old, worn one, a white dress embroidered with purple flowers, a new necklace. Yes – you have called me spoiled. But now, I am beginning to realise that the things I really want are those that money cannot buy. Affection, kindness, love, freedom.

I want to be free. Free from my parents, from my duties as a Capulet daughter. I want adults to listen to me, instead of dismissing my thoughts and feelings like they are nonsense, like I do not know what I’m doing. I am young, yes. This does not mean I do not deserve to be heard, especially when it comes to important decisions regarding my future. Sometimes I feel as if I have as much freedom as the kitchen maids, with the extravagance of our clothes the only difference between us.

But nurse – Romeo makes me feel free. I feel like I can do anything when he is with me, and that is how I know I will see him again. I do not know where or when, but I know in my heart that we will end up together. What is it they say? Love overcomes all odds. I know our love is strong enough to overcome anything.

I am not foolish; I know freedom often comes with a cost. This cost may be high, but I am willing to pay it. My resolve will not waver. Even as I grieve for Mercutio and Tybalt, my kinsmen by marriage and blood – I am, perhaps selfishly, jealous that they had the freedom to make the decisions that led to their demises. That is all I want – to be allowed to choose my own path, to create my own destiny. I want to see the world for what it truly is, not this tidy version where everything is timed and planned to perfection. I want to make mistakes, to fall, to get back up, to try again. I know this will all be possible, eventually, when Romeo is by my side.

Oh, nurse, I wish you could come with me. At least, I wish I could save you from the pain that is to come.

Know that I will never forget you.

All my love,
Juliet

Main Image Credit: Allan Hartley

Yen-Rong Wong

Yen-Rong Wong is a Brisbane-based writer. She is the founding editor of Pencilled In, a literary magazine dedicated to showcasing the work of Asian Australian artists. Her work has been published in The Guardian, Kill Your Darlings, Overland, Tincture Journal and more. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Deborah Cass Prize for Writing.

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