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Are you sitting comfortably...? All this week we're publishing the winning stories in our Born & Read campaign Shakespeare competition. We asked readers to write a short story influenced by the Shakespearean themes of witches, revenge or doomed lovers.

TWO DOOMED LOVERS BY HANZLA MACDONALD YOU could tell I was from the city because I said my 'o's like scorching 'oww's ; because my call-toprayer was pitch-perfect; and because I could tell apart my rights and wrongs but not my indiscretions.

Now, there was a difference of opinion about Juliet. You could side with my father who said that you could not tell whether she was from the city because she said her 'o's like blushing 'auww's; because she rushed her Arabic, making shlongs of her salaams; and because she was at pains to point between the shades of indiscretion but stood asquint before the blacks and whites of right and wrong.

Or you could side with my mother who said, quite severely, that you could tell that she did not come from the city for the reasons aforementioned. The difference was wide enough to fit our story within it.

In another story I know well, there was a Romeo who could not tell that his Juliet was dead and yet thought that he could tell that she was not living; and the difference was tragedy.

For tragedy, you can find a good curry goat in Winson Green, on Dudley Road. Again, you can side with my father and take up at the Caribbean eatery on 391 Dudley Road, or side with my mother and take up at 406 on the same street.

I was cautious to approach the house party at Winson Green at all, truth be told.

The boys who eyed me up could have been gangsters; they were certainly gangly. I met Juliet in the garden and, not knowing how to proceed - no, knowing how not to proceed - I left her there, her conversation fixed in my memory, her name fixed in my facebook search box.

A relationship fell together and before long we had memories erected across the city: in ratty parks, over Moroccan coffee, under the noses of my absolutist relatives. At first, we thought our doom was spelled (or, misspelled) in the domes and minarets of the holy city.

But we became familiar with our desires as quickly as we'd become familiar with one another: there were rules and we bypassed them; there were don'ts and we did; there was love.

Finally, Juliet had her say, "I've been reading about financial systems. Romeo, are you listening? An investor orders a trade with a click of a mouse.

"You can think about it this way: the mouse-click is a starting pistol, as soon as it sounds, the order hurtles through wires underground from one trading system to another.

"That's a transaction. It takes, let's say, two milliseconds. In that time, an algorithm attached to faster underground wires can learn of the order and beat the investor to his sale.

"If you must know, the difference between two milliseconds is wide enough to fit a few millionaires within it."

I later heard that Juliet, who was not from the city, had found a new life in The City. For me, a glooming peace.

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jan 29, 2015
Words:507
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