Browsing the books on the library shelves, words and couplets and sonnets swirling around your mind as your brain tried to make sense of the required reading. As a freshman in college aiming to become a biologist, being forced to take a semester of Shakespeare of all things seemed like a complete waste of your valuable time. It also didn’t help that nothing made an ounce of sense to you.
Your eyes fell upon a collection of nicer-quality paperbacks nestled amongst the thick hard covers, bright colors and bold titles identifying them as some of Shakespeare’s more popular works. Upon closer inspection you realized that they weren’t necessarily books at all, but manga volumes.
This was the perfect solution! You would still be reading the actual plays, but the drawings would put them into context and all of your problems would be solved! You withdrew Romeo and Juliet, the play you were supposed to read this week, and began to walk away, but an accented voiced stopped you in your tracks.
“What the bloody hell is that abomination?”
You mentally winced and turned to face the man, confirming your fears. Arthur Kirkland, English “gentleman” extraordinaire, stood before you, a disapproving scowl distorting his face. He was one of the few people who actually took the class seriously, and he looked down upon everyone who wasn’t as serious as he was in the class.
“Are you deaf? What the hell is that book?” he asked again, as if you didn’t hear him the first time. You rolled your eyes and sighed.
“Look Arthur, not everyone is an English genius like you, and obviously I am getting this book to make sense of the mumbo-jumbo that is this play,” you retorted, hands on your hips and ready to engage in verbal combat if necessary.
Arthur’s emerald eyes widened because of what you assumed was an insult to his favorite play. “If you didn’t understand it, you could have just asked for help instead of turning to that monstrosity!”
That wasn’t what you were expecting at all. Arthur didn’t seem like the kind of guy who asked to help with anything. Your eyes narrowed. There had to be a catch. “What’s in it for you?”
Arthur looked resilient. “It will be a date.”
Wait, what? you thought. “Wait, what?” you said, honestly not believing what you had heard.
“It will be a date,” he repeated in an obnoxiously slow tone. You began to weigh your options. Pros: help with your worst class and a date with a Brit, which you always wanted to do. Cons: the Brit was a bit of a pompous asshole.
“All right. No funny business though.”
Four years later, you watched your boyfriend receive his diploma and heard the head of department declare him a professor of English literature. His smile lit up the auditorium and your heart swelled with pride. He approached the microphone with confidence, and swiftly things took an unexpected turn.
“If you shall marry,
You give away this hand, and that is mine;
You give away heaven's vows, and those are mine;
You give away myself, which is known mine;
For I by vow am so embodied yours,
That she which marries you must marry me,
Either both or none” he quoted, eyes glued on you. “So what do you say ______? Marry me?”
By this point your hand was covering your mouth, emotions strangling you, and all you could do was nod. Arthur smiled happily and hopped off the stage, ran over to you, and withdrew a petite velvet box. He handed you the box and watched as you opened it, revealing the most beautiful but simple ring you had ever seen.
He plucked the ring from the box and slipped it onto the correct finger before drawing you close and sweetly kissing you on the lips, the crowd’s cheers fading away in the bliss of the moment.
Your life was better then you could have ever imagined, and all because of a silly volume of manga.