Goodnight girl. That was a hard farewell to childhood. First mother with the gown, news of the ball; then nurse, whispering marriage. Paris seen drinking with my father; introductions, politics. That ball, my first, and my first gown: Paris, first among the guests. Dancing: we, the first couple. Then the stranger staring: You? Is it you? It was. As unprepared as he, still I knew the stories were all about the sweat along my spine, his hand held out, that look. It would kill me to smile. Him too. Each heartbeat pounds the room to silence. Subterfuge and farce: we meet in an unseen garden say insignificant things and so become people we hardly dreamed of. As such, the friar married us, and nurse smuggled my new husband in to me like one last toy. Goodnight girl indeed. My father’s maiden, pierced by young Montague, bucked to consummation on blooded sheets like any of his mares. Nurse warned me love meant bleeding from the belly for a man. Much I cared then, asleep that ringing morning nor later in the salt and olive crush of my dark husband’s arm. Never did the sun inherit better omens from the night. The stars ground on. And damnéd Tybalt bullied, slew Mercutio, whose friend, my half- demented husband, bled him from his middle and down to dark earth. Thus exile and the friar’s daft plan. Two days out of girlhood, alone on my bridal bed I mumbled my goodbyes to everybody and swallowed hard. To wake on stone, gown sticky in the blood and still warm arms of my first husband, who spilled blood four times since waking. Small wonder he lies still. I’ll sleep with him again. Mine is the first and last belly he’ll draw blood from. Here’s his dagger.