The Morning After: Desdemona and Othello If They Had Gotten to Consummate Their Marriage


The Morning After: Desdemona and Othello If They Had Gotten to Consummate Their Marriage


I watched him dress through my half open eyelids. First, he stood up slowly and faced the small window, the early morning sun turned the thin cartilage of his dark ears a bloody, but somehow holy, red. His chocolaty, naked backside was dusted with a soft, downy hair that I longed to reach out and touch, but I restrained myself, knowing that the moment he knew I was awake he would he would fawn over me. I cherished and craved his attention, but for the moment I just wanted to languish in his quiet presence, the simple reality of our union. He stretched, the ribs on his left side showing as he reached high to his right side, letting out a stifled yawn. He moved faster now, pulling on his tight military issued pants crumpled in a corner. I guessed it was about six in the morning. It had been our first night together since the scene in the court where in my father finally, reluctantly, withdrew his objections about my marriage to Othello. I was happy.
This bed and this chamber was unfamiliar to me, temporary military style lodgings in Cyprus, a land that had been foreign to me until yesterday. Iago had at first been in a bit of a mood when we arrived. Iago, one of the commanders under Othello, had been convicted the previous day of treachery most foul, and so had not come to Cyprus with us. Not only was Othello shocked to know about the true character of one of his closest advisors, he was inconvenienced by the personnel change. His poor mood had quickly dissipated as the revelry began.

Then, Othello turned back towards me and I closed my eyes quickly. I felt him sit down softly on the edge of the bed but I focused on keeping my breathing slow and steady, delaying the inevitable end to this charade of sleep. His hand lighted on my cheek, his big, gentle fingers traced from the edge of my mouth to my collarbone, where he slowly, delicately, traced to the hollow of my throat, then the swell of my left breast. I suppressed a shiver of desire that I knew wouldn’t be becoming for a lady.
I wrestled the urge to arise from my fake slumber and wrap my arms around this lovely man. No one knew him like I did, no one understood him. He was more than a moor or a brilliant military officer, he was kind, intelligent, and he looked at me like I was gold. I assured myself the tenderness of this moment would abruptly end as soon as he knew he had an audience, so I kept my eyes closed. He kissed me lightly on the brow then, lingering for a moment before standing up, rounding the bed and shutting the door carefully behind him.
I let my eyes come slowly open then, still feeling his kiss on my forehead. There had been many kisses last night, kisses and more, but somehow none were as memorable as this tiny, early morning love note just above my right eyebrow. I was grasping the scarf he had given me, the symbol of our love. I thought again about how strange it was that people saw him differently because of the color of his skin, that some even disapproved of our union. How could anyone disapprove of a person capable of such tenderness?
I had had to leave my father to be with my love, and I was sorry, but not as sorry as perhaps I should have been. Bigger than any other feeling, the guilt and the sadness at leaving my family, there was this fizzing joy that shot through me every time I thought about my husband. My husband. What an unfamiliar and wonderful phrase. I had a husband. I was married. Me, Desdemona, a happily married woman. I wriggled in the soft sheets with pleasure at the notion of this.
We were in Cyprus, together despite all the obstacles that had stood in our way. I was certain we would be together forever, what could possibly come between us? I thought of his gentle smile as I drifted back to sleep.


Brooke Johnson



Brooke Johnson, “The Morning After: Desdemona and Othello If They Had Gotten to Consummate Their Marriage,” Shakespearean Journeys, accessed June 13, 2024,