Today we're happy to welcome Kathy MacMillan, author of Sword and Verse, and Kimberley Griffiths Little, author of Forbidden and The Time of the Fireflies, among others.
Lights come up on a simple stage with three chairs. A beautiful young woman with a slightly tragic air enters and turns to the audience.
Juliet: Welcome, everyone, to "If It's Easy, Why Would You Want It?", your weekly guide through the landscape of forbidden love. I am Juliet Capulet Montague, your hostess. Today I am pleased to welcome two extraordinary young women who know what it means to fight for the things you love. First, let's have a round of applause for Jayden, daughter of Pharez. You can read her story in Forbidden and the upcoming Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little.
A girl with long dark hair wearing a red dress and a scarf with jangling beads and coins around her hips glides onto the stage. She walks with a grace and assuredness that only a well-practiced dancer could have.
Jayden: I'm so happy to meet you, Juliet, you're such an iconic tragic figure of the future!
Juliet: Jayden, I was so moved by your story. The way you left your tribe to be with the man you loved! Tell us a little about your journey and what kept you going.
Jayden: I never expected to fall in love with a mysterious boy from the frankincense lands and I fought my feelings for a long time. Loving him was strictly forbidden because he was a foreigner and my parents had arranged a marriage for me with the prince of my tribe when I was born. But as I gave in to my feelings, I realized that having Kadesh in my life was worth more than my reputation or becoming a fugitive from my tribe. Coincidentally, I got to meet Raisa in the green room and we both know what it's like to fight for what we want.
Juliet: Yes, indeed, let's bring Raisa out. Here with us from Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan, straight from the land of Qilara, we have Raisa ke Co-
A young woman in a white dress dashes onto the stage. Her reddish-brown hair curls around her shoulders as she shakes her head and cuts Juliet off.
Raisa: Juliet, please! Most of them haven't read the book yet! No spoilers!
Juliet: Oh, of course, yes. Have a seat, Raisa dear. Tell us about your forbidden love. In your case, it was forbidden by the gods themselves, isn't that right?
Raisa: Juliet, did anyone ever tell you that you are a bit melodramatic?
Juliet: But it's true, isn't it?
Raisa: Yes, I suppose so. But you must understand, I never thought of it that way. I fell in love with Mati because he was kind and smart and -
Raisa: Well, yes, that too.
Juliet: Now here's a question for both of you. Someone, I'm not sure who, once said: "These violent delights have violent ends/ And in their triumph die, like fire and powder/ Which, as they kiss, consume." Do you agree?
Jayden: Those first glances, the touch of hands, the whispered secret words were enticing and thrilling, especially when I'd never felt those things before-I didn't know I could feel that kind of strong attraction and emotion toward someone. Unfortunately, there was so much danger in loving
Kadesh. I could be killed for leaving my tribe to be with him. Horeb, the boy I was betrothed to, slowly turned into a man filled with greed and envy and ambition that ruined him and blinded him to reality. He attacked me and tried to kill Kadesh, and then chased me thousands of miles across the desert to destroy us.
Juliet: Ah! The obstacles you faced! Is the very idea that a love is forbidden what makes it so enticing? What do you think, Raisa?
Raisa: Maybe it the beginning, in the first stolen moments, that is part of the fun of it, but if it lasts, then it has to be more than that. If a love is worth fighting for, worth giving things up for, there has to be more substance.
Juliet: Is love worth giving up everything for?
Raisa: No, not everything. There has to be something of yourself that you don't compromise. I love Mati, but part of the reason that we work is that I don't have to hide who I am with him. I've hidden my whole life, but I won't do it anymore. That might make things hard on him.
Jayden: My family and my tribe thought I was giving up everything, but through my relationship with Kadesh I learned that I was a stronger and more capable person than I'd ever been taught to think before. In my world, girls are viewed as property and Kadesh, being a foreigner, had been raised
completely differently. Someone who truly loves you will lift you into a better version of yourself.
Raisa nods fervently.
Juliet: What do you say to those who ask if it wouldn't just be easier to follow the rules and do what you are supposed to do? Jayden, if you had done what your family wanted, you would be queen of the Nepish. Raisa, you would be -
Raisa: Still a slave.
Jayden: After Horeb's ambition and greed grew violent against me, I knew I would only become his slave. Some girls might endure it for wealth and prestige but I was willing to risk death and banishment than to be miserable and chained to a life-and bed-with a man I hated.
Juliet: But you would have saved yourself and others so much pain and suffering!
Jayden and Raisa look at each other.
Raisa: Pain and suffering happen in this world whether you go after what you want or not.
Jayden: Some things are work risking your life for.
Juliet: Where did you first plight your troth - that is, confess your love to each other? Was it as cool a location as a balcony?
Jayden: Even speaking to Kadesh, or looking at him, was forbidden. When he and I found ourselves alone, he took a chance to just touch my hand. The powerful feelings between us were tangible and palpable. I knew my life would never be the same again.
Raisa: In my bedroom.
Raisa smiles sheepishly at Jayden.
Juliet: Not as cool as a balcony then.
Raisa: Well, Mati did scale the palace walls to get there.
Juliet: Yes, yes, very impressive. Tell me, have you ever considered asking your loved one to renounce his family name, given that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet?
Jayden: Renouncing your family is a very big thing where I come from. Your family is your life. If you forsake your family then you have basically just doomed yourself to die. Even with that being said Kadesh's life would not have been very long if he had renounced his family and joined mine. Horeb would have had Kadesh killed before any arrangements could have been made to break our betrothal.
Raisa: Well, Mati ended up giving up much more than just his name, but let's not give away the ending.
Juliet: Have you considered a clandestine marriage as a solution to your problems? They're surprisingly cheap and hassle-free if you know a friendly priest.
Jayden: Of course! But since my father helped save Kadesh's life when he was lost in the desert, my father's approval was very important to Kadesh. I think he would much rather have a marriage with my father's blessing than to just elope and be banished forever. All the couples who risk that end up dead.
Raisa: For us, there were other challenges to our relationship besides the law, and running away wouldn't have solved those. We would have had to fight our way through it either way. And, if I may say so, Juliet, running away didn't work out so well for you, did it?
Juliet: Hmph, well, that's all the time we have today on "If It's Easy, Why Would You Want It?" Thank you to Jayden and Raisa for joining us today. And remember, viewers, keep following your heart!
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