Saturday, May 3

Friday Archives

Okay- I know I'm a day late but I've decided to start making myself post at least once a week. One of my favorite crafty bloggers returned a while back (she'd taken some time off) and she is now posting every Friday with something that she made. You should check her out if you get the chance- Loobylu.

So, I could totally cheat and post a picture of Jonah as the thing I created most recently, but I don't want to cheat. Instead I will post this short story I wrote in college. I was a little inspired by Edgar Allen Poe and by my own state of mind during that time of my life. I wrote a lot about being betrayed.

Quoth the Raven

When they first announced it, I thought my head would explode. It was so unreal, like a dream of something horrific that was happening to someone else. But it wasn’t happening to someone else, it was happening to me.

Anticipation had filled the house before the evening ever began. There were about a dozen servants running circles around the house cleaning, dusting and straightening. My mother was baking enough to feed an army. The Zettegren family had been invited to a celebration for something my parents had yet to explain. I was certain my parents were going to announce my engagement.

Gathered around the candle-lit table that night I was absolutely glowing with expectation. What came instead was the culmination of Satan’s mission to destroy my life. Of this I am undoubtedly certain, and I will never withdraw that claim.

As my father stood to toast the gathering, I surveyed all who were present. No one that I loved was left out on this occasion that I believed to be so joyous. My mother kept fussing with things, wanting them to be perfect. My father was completely jubilant with pride. My sister always seemed to shine like the sun, but somehow she seemed more subdued tonight. I believed I did not feel the rays of her presence bearing down on me as I normally did because she instinctively knew this night was for me. Across the table were Roger’s mother and father. He came from a long family line of wealthy, influential people. They were stern looking but I knew that if they could raise such a loving, kind son, surely they must also be loving and kind. Roger sat between his two younger brothers who were quietly kicking one another under the table. Roger was very quiet but his handsome face rarely gave away the thoughts hidden in the deep pools of his mind. I loved him for that. I loved him for his unchanging grace and charm. I simply loved him.

My father’s booming voice lifted to toast the prosperity of our two families. The candlelight caught up in the lines of his face and in his beard to cast golden beams across his face and onto the crucifix hanging on the wall behind him. He looked like a Grecian god, full of power and strength. He thanked God for His hand of mercy upon us, that our families had suffered no tragedy or hardships. My father did always tend to ramble on about God and His infinite mercy, but after that night I never did believe it again. In the candlelight, however, it was almost believable.

“May our two families be ever joined in the days to come by more of God’s infinite Mercy, and may his hand be over the new family which will come of us. To Annabelle and Roger. May they live ever in happiness.”

At that exact moment I felt my heart stop dead in my chest. Not one flush of blood has graced my veins since those words were spoken.

Roger was looking dead into my eyes and I did not seem to understand anything that was being said by the people around me. They were tipping their glasses and cheering, but all I could understand was the agony in his eyes. They were screaming at me to forgive him. To love him, anyway.

My sister was beaming again. She had always been the one to whom the choicest things were given. She had always been the one to be pleasing. For some reason, she seemed to have God’s favor about her. And I did not.

I knew I had to say something or risk the wrath of my mother.

“Congratulations, Annabelle.” I said.

The rest of the night was little more than a blur. I went to check on the dessert at least a dozen times. Something about the little dining room bathed in candlelight made me feel suffocated and panicked. It was almost impossible to think or breathe. The conversation floated mainly around their task of preparing a wedding in the week to come. There would be no long engagement for the two oldest children of the two most influential families in town.

After dinner I escaped to the back porch. It was bleak December, and the sky was clear and crisp with the piercing starlight. A sad wind howled across the hay fields around the house and for a moment the waving hay sounded like the ocean. There was not a tear within me that was willing to fall, to comfort my breaking heart. My eyes lifted to the sky. Our little town had not installed electric lights, so the stars seemed to hover just above the house. The stars looked down at me with cold little glares, daring me to cry. But I would not. Could not.

Roger managed to escape and find me on the back porch some time later.

“Caroline….” He whispered.

I turned and looked at him. He was standing in a shadow, looking as if he were ready to run if anyone caught him, but my heart leapt. For a moment I was certain that he had a plan to save me. He would sweep me away and everything would be made right.

Our eyes locked and I knew that he could read every thought I was hurling at him at that moment, just as I had read his thoughts at the dinner table.

“But our love it was stronger by far than the love of those who were older than we. Of many far wiser than we, and neither the angels in heaven above, nor the demons down under the sea, can ever dissever my soul from the soul…” I whispered those words to him, certain that it would somehow end differently. Somehow I knew that he was there to reassure me that everything was going to be all right. Instead, his face fell in frustration.

“Caroline, it wasn’t my idea. I don’t have a choice. They just told me that it was what I was going to do.” He searched my face for understanding. “You know I love you. This isn’t the end of the world for you.”

He did not know that I was already dead. My heart had stopped, and my body was slowly growing cold. I could not move to go to him, though I truly wanted to. It didn’t matter anyway, I felt dead inside as well.

“Caroline, you’re too wild and unpredictable. You aren’t fit for presentation to the kind of people they want me to be around. I tried to tell them…but you know how they are. I’m trapped with them.”

I had to believe he told the truth, but there was nothing to reconcile the hours of time we had spent together with the betrayal of his engagement. I never felt more accepted by anyone. I was fascinated with Poe, though it wasn’t exactly popular to read Poe in 1892. Lots of people thought I was eccentric, or morbid because I enjoyed reading the grotesque. Because I felt a kinship to it. Nothing was quite like Poe to me. It was as if my spirit were caught up in the words of his poetry. My mother told me over and over that it wasn’t an attractive quality in a young lady to enjoy reading such stuff. But Roger had loved to listen to me talk about the darkness and the love in Poe’s poems. I was certain that we were destined to be together. Poe captured my spirit, but Roger captured my heart. Roger had been my consolation from God for being patient for His love.

I looked at his face in the cold moonlit night. His head seemed to float before me. It all became clear then, that Roger was not a gift to me from the God that my father so loved to harp upon, but he was a tease from Satan. He was dangled just beyond my grasp, and given to my sister to leave me in the agony of the broken hearted. It was the perfect culmination of His plan.

“The wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and Killing Annabelle Lee…” I whispered. Our eyes never averted. He saw the knowledge in mine and realized that I knew who had sent him to me. He knew.

“Caroline…” he said. It came out as a gasp, but it almost sounded like a curse. It was a curse. It was my punishment.

“Take thy form from off my door.” I uttered, waving a hand, as if to brush him away.

He went inside and I did not follow him. I did not go inside for hours. I only stood there staring up at those cold little stars that shined so bright. When I close my eyes I can still see them burned on my lids. They were watching me. They knew what I had done and they had told Satan, and He was punishing me.

It had been months since I had lain in the grass looking up at the night sky. It was that warm summer night for which I was now being punished. I had gone out of the house through the back window. I had carried a volume of poetry. The sky had been open and welcoming. Not like this sky. The stars in this sky were looking down on me, expectantly, angrily.

At my mother’s bidding I finally came into the house and went to bed. I lay between the crisp sheets for hours before I knew what I had to do. I opened the window and watched the curtains blow in the freezing winter breeze. It was as if they were moved by the invisible hands of Satan, reaching in to grab hold of me. I was no longer terrified. Slowly I removed my nightdress and stood with my arms spread wide. The cold air rushed over my bare skin but I was not cold. The truth kept me warm. I could not defeat Satan, but I could defy him.

I could feel the cold, sharp rush of the winter air on my skin as I turned toward the door. There was only one thing left to do. I carefully tiptoed my way to my sister’s room. From the shadow of the hallway I could see her sleeping. I stepped out of the shadows and walked to her bed without making a noise. She looked as if she were a princess, waiting for her prince to come and kiss her awake. She was waiting for my prince. The thought broke some dam in my mind.

“Nevermore!” I burst into giggles. I hadn’t meant to say it.

Annabelle stirred a little and I put a hand over my mouth. Her eyes fluttered open, like butterflies I’m sure.

“What is it?” She asked, looking up at me her eyes seeming not to comprehend.

“Nevermore!” I whispered louder. I covered my mouth immediately to censor my laughter. Her confusion showed plainly on her face as she took in my presence.

“Caroline, why are you waking me up to laugh at me? I’ve got a busy week ahead.” She was always oblivious to what was plainly before her.

“I said ‘nevermore’! Don’t you get it, Annabelle Lee?” I smiled at her.

“Caroline, you’re scaring me. What are you talking about? Caroline, your lips are blue!” Her eyes grew as wide as saucers as she looked closer at me.

”I’m talking about me… and Roger. Nevermore!” I whispered fiercely. I pulled my long braid over my shoulder and began to twist the end. “You don’t know anything! You don’t get it do you? As if his soul in that one word, did outpour! Nevermore!” I whispered leaning ever closer. It was so very frustrating that she did not understand. She had never understood Poe. She never understood me. She just stared in horror. I suppose it was because I wasn’t wearing any clothes, but it didn’t make it any easier to put up with her ignorance.

I sighed loudly. “You really don’t understand, do you? The dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore?” I could see that nothing was getting through to her.

“Roger doesn’t love you! He loves me. It will be me, Annabelle Lee. He will lie beside me in the sepulcher there by the sea, by the sounding sea!” I smiled and raised my arms to the ceiling in joy. “It won’t be you, Annabelle Lee- It will be me!” I broke out into a peal of quiet laughter. Then I leaned very close to her face.

“He’s already lain beside me. We are already joined forever in our love. The stars can tell you! It was in the summer, and they saw it all!”

So I told her all of it. I told her how I crept out that night with my poetry under my arm and I met Roger in the wide field. I read Poe aloud by candlelight and he kissed me. He kissed me and then… I told her about the way the moon shone on his white skin and how he touched me. I told her about how Satan was punishing me.

She looked at me in horror. “Oh God!”

“No!” I corrected. “There is no God. Only Satan for me, sister. Only Satan.”

But she didn’t seem to have heard me. “You gave your body to him! You gave your body to the man I am supposed to marry? Get away from me!” she began to cry quietly and slowly rocking her self back and forth. She buried herself in the blankets and I watched her body tremble with sobs. I was done.

I crept back to my room and sat on the window seat. The window was still open and the wind was still filling the room with cold December air. My arms and legs were covered with goose pimples, but I did not feel the cold. My heart had stopped beating long before, and I could not feel anything.

I could see the stars up above looking down at me. They winked and twinkled at me. They were watching me still, and I could tell that Satan was angry. He could put me in hell, but he couldn’t stop me from sharing it with my sister.

“Tell me truly I implore- Is there a Balm in Gilead? Tell me! Tell me! I implore!” I called upward. But I knew the answer long before and the stars did not hesitate to call it back.

Nevermore. They whispered.

I heard the crying far off the next morning when my mother tried to rouse me from the window ledge. She shook me, slapped me and wrapped me in blankets, but I didn’t feel a thing. I saw a reflection of what must have been me. My lips were blue, and my eyes were wide and wild. My mother tried to make me talk to her. I just smiled and said to her: “Nevermore.”

So I am never flitting, still am sitting. Roger comes to see me sometimes… and his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming. And the starlight o’er him streaming throws a shadow on the floor and my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted nevermore…

1 comment:

Shirley said...

More! More!