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Romeo & Karen – A Romance Thriller by Orobosa Ikponmwen

Romeo and Karen romance thriller short story

Romeo and Karen was an assignment from an Eketi Ette writing class I took in 2020. Originally titled ‘A Beautiful Death’, the story follows Romeo and Karen on the weirdest date ever.

I was searching for a different story when I stumbled on this one and thought it’ll be nice to let you read it. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Genre: Romance Thriller

Romeo & Karen – A Short Story

Romeo never quite understood why Karen enjoyed funerals and graveyard visits. She would often light up at the slightest mention of anyone dying and immediately ask when the funeral would be. She says the whole charade makes her appreciate life more and see people for who they really are – as strings on a guitar.

It fascinated her, she fascinated him but did he fascinate her? He wasn’t sure if she felt the same way he did.  She would never marry him, of course, but he would take whatever crumbs Karen threw at him. Karen makes you that way.

Romeo loved Karen but he wasn’t sure if she felt the same way. She felt something, that’s for sure. What she felt, he wasn’t sure and she never cared to elaborate whenever he asked. It seemed the only place to get her to really talk to him was at funerals. He’d decided that his uncle’s funeral would be a good place to ask her how she felt about him.

So he’d brought her along with him. To maybe meet his family? Or to finally ask if she was interested in dating him? Would she even talk to him? Romeo only had to wait for her to start on one of her monologues, then he’ll go from there.

“Death, it’s a beautiful thing. Don’t you think?” Karen tilted her head to the side, a playful smile on her lips.

“I don’t understand, Karen,” Romeo said as they moved between family and friends, greeting strangers. He was nervous and he fidgeted with things. “We’re at my uncle’s funeral. Can you for once put this fascination with death aside? For my sake at least?”

Karen didn’t respond. She didn’t need to because Romeo was always curious when it concerned Karen.

“But… ok. What do you mean?” He caved.

“Romeo, dear, just take a look.” She took his hand and turned them around, looking out the window overlooking the graveyard. “Don’t you see it?”

“See what?” Romeo’s eyes darted sharply from side to side, only seeing grey headstones and a small forest of trees on the landscape.

“A graveyard is like an orchestra. An orchestra of souls and with finished stories as symphonies.”

“In English, please.”

”Just think about it for a moment. Think of where these people had been, who they were, what they did.”

Romeo watched her, sure he didn’t understand but his interest piqued nonetheless. Sometimes, it bothered him when she spoke like that. It sent shivers down his spine to hear Karen romanticize death the way she did. It made him feel small, scared, bleak, and unfascinating.

Romeo looked down at his glass of champagne and twirled the liquid around. He felt he was losing the chance to ask her about her feelings. Did she have any? He opened his mouth to ask but instead said, “I still don’t understand, Karen.”

“When you look at it as I’ve shown you, you’ll realize that a man is insignificant until he’s dead.” Karen turned to the people in the room. “People don’t even show they love you until you’re dead.” 

“Karen, I wanted to ask if you-“

 “Look at all these people.”

Romeo reluctantly glanced around the room.

 “I’m sure that the love Uncle Benji is getting today, these people didn’t show even a half of it when he was alive.”

Karen finally looked at him for the first time since they entered the funeral. Her delicate hands cupped his jaw, making him lean into her touch. Romeo’s eyes closed as she slowly stretched on her ankles towards him. He expected a kiss but he got more; she kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear.

“Just like I’ll cherish you more…”

He heard the word ‘cherish’ and his heart spun into a Tango.

 “…When you’re dead in sixty seconds. The irony of -”

“Wait. What?!” Romeo sputtered and coughed, choking on the wine that went through the wrong hole. “What did you just say?”

“The irony of life?”

“No. Before that.”

“That you’ll die in sixty seconds, now 40?”

Romeo sipped some more wine, hoping to cool down but he resumed coughing and choking instead. As his coughs came out harder and louder, Romeo clutched at his chest. His eyes grew wider with realization as he drew closer and closer to the ground, one knee at a time.

By the time his body hit the floor, people were already gathering. He could hear someone in the room calling an ambulance; they didn’t know the address of the funeral home.

Seconds before he gave in to nothingness, he managed to turn and peep with red bulging eyes at Karen. It didn’t surprise him, what he saw on her face – a smile. Not necessarily a happy one. She wasn’t just happy. She was… fascinated?

Did she poison him? When did she do it? Did she poison him?

The last thing he saw as he died was Karen, mouthing, “Beautiful. Just beautiful.”

[THE END]

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Whew! (wipes sweat) That was a lot.

If you’re asking if Karen poisoned his drink, well, She didn’t. Romeo choked on his wine and she knew it was going to happen. She was only there to watch it happen and get her usual ‘death’ high.

I’ve got my own question. Why was Romeo so taken with this woman? What was it about her? What was it about Romeo that made him attracted to her? I’m legitimately curious. What do you think?

PS: This story may or may not be in development as a movie script.

Want to read another story of mine? Try Boundaries.

2 thoughts on “Romeo & Karen – A Romance Thriller by Orobosa Ikponmwen”

  1. Chilling. What did Romeo do in this life to deserve this darkness? Maybe he saw light in her darkness. Or who is to say that light should be desired more than darkness anyway? Either way, Romeo should have organized a near death experience for her. That would either cure her or make her feel something for him. Lol.

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