Her eyes watered as he turned away. His black coat swished and she knew he was off to a bar somewhere. “Edgar!” she called out, but he was already lost in his world of poetry and sorrow. Eliza started to cry as the rain began to patter on the roof. As hard as she tried, she would never understand Edgar Allen Poe. True, over the years she grew to admire, and even love, the man behind the chilling Dark Tales. Nevertheless she knew that love wasn’t enough.
Edgar shoved his hands in his pockets, glad to be away from his home and Eliza. Eliza. She was too painful and complicated to think about. Maybe if he just forgot about her, the problem would go away. But Edgar had tried this method too many times in other instances to actually believe it would work. However, he had another plan. He was just going to do what he usually did, get drunk at a local bar called The Saloon. Though it wasn’t the best way to escape his problems, it was certainly better than facing them. So now that’s where he sat. His head seemingly attached to the bar, wavy black hair drenched in sweat, breathing heavily. Getting drunk wasn’t always the most pleasant experience. Sometimes, it took hours for him to get fully plastered. Right at that time, he didn’t know the time. He knew he had been at the bar for over an hour. How many hours exactly, he couldn’t say, but judging by the slowly climbing bill, it had been three or four at least.
Edgar was mysterious, aloof, depressed and in pain. He had an independent streak and could easily become emotionless or unattached. It was a daily task to try to connect with him. They had now been living together for over a year, but it wasn’t really living when the other person was dead inside.
He tried to pick up his head and ignored the throbbing he had gotten so used to. Two women sat on the bar stools next to him. Their gossipy conversation drifted over to him. “So, did you hear what that whore Eliza said?” Edgar was suddenly full awake. They couldn’t be talking about his Eliza could they? “Yes! The nerve she has, getting snippy with Geraldine! I tell you, she thinks just because she lives with that good for nothing poet that she can take it out on the world!” Eliza? A whore? This was the first Edgar had heard of it. But surely their stories were not true, Edgar knew she wasn’t like that. So, he fished a five dollar bill out of his pocket, slapped it on the bar, and stumbled out of The Saloon. His vision was blurry and he felt rather dirty.
Eliza knew about Edgar’s first wife Virginia. She also knew that she would never be able to compete with her. At this point, Eliza felt more like Edgar’s mother than his romance. She often wondered if the attraction was mutual or if Edgar just he needed a place to stay. Underneath his rather attractive exterior, in her opinion, was a tortured soul.
The cold air stung his skin. He automatically began to shiver. Tilting his head to glance at the moon, he sighed shaking his head before walking down the street towards the barber shop. He pushed the door to Bill’s Barber Shop open and looked around nervously, not sure what to do. “Hey, do you need a shave?” “Yes please, just the beard and cut my hair a bit.” A half hour later, Edgar was shaved and cleaned up considerably. He smiled, handed the barber a dime and shook his hand. Then, he made his way back to his house.
What Eliza hated the most was her attraction to him. Her friends and family advised her against it but she had never been one to listen and figured she’d take a risk. She, in her naivete, felt she could change him. Now, Eliza realized how wrong she had been.
About five hours after Edgar’s emotional departure, he came back. Expecting his return, Eliza held the door open for him. He stumbled in, tripped on the rug and tried to maintain his balance. He wobbled and grabbed onto the banister of the stairs. He turned his head to look at her then trudged up the stairs. Eliza could tell by his walk that he was tired.
He nosily climbed the stairs, grabbed onto the handle of the screen door, yanked it open with a screech. The front door opened and Edgar didn’t expect it. He half tripped, half ran into the house and stumbled over a bump in the rug. He suddenly became very self conscious in front of Eliza and didn’t want to fall, so, he grabbed onto the banister. He turned his head to look at her and felt as though he were seeing her for the first time. He didn’t want to speak for fear that his words might get choked up. He, the poet who was never at a loss for words, always coming up with witty things to say, was speechless. So, he just turned around and slowly climbed the stairs, trying to make her think he was tired. Really, he knew he was going to be laying awake in bed, trying to sleep, but thinking about ways to make her feel appreciated. He know knew that she must only tolerate him. She probably wanted him out of her- their house.
Most nights were like this. Edgar hardly ever said a word except to mutter a greeting or farewell. That was one thing she hated. His lack of communication was frustrating. The man she had loved was different. He was happy, kind and fearless. He was also married. Then his wife died and he changed, but Eliza didn’t. She gave up everything, her life and respectability, to follow her heart. This was what she got for being a fool.
He climbed up the stairs, removed his coat and was laying in bed. Almost immediately, his thoughts drifted to Eliza. She was pretty, no denying that, everyone knew it. But he hadn’t looked, really looked, at her since he moved into her house. He was forced to leave behind his beloved New York because the memories of Virginia were too painful. He loved Virginia, he missed her Virginia, but she was gone. She was never going to come back. He had to move on. With both Eliza and Virginia on his mind, he fell into an uncomfortable sleep.
The next morning, Eliza woke up on the couch. She realized two things instantly. One, that her back was very sore. Two, she had forgotten to close the blinds last night. She usually left them open because she read by the moonlight but she also usually slept in her bed where the open curtains didn’t matter. For some reason, she didn’t go into her room that night so the sun beamed on her face. She stood up feeling very much like she had a hangover and shuffled to the kitchen.
He got up early the next morning and walked outside. Sighing, he walked down the sidewalk, trying to figure out a way to make it up to Eliza. Finally, as he was passing a carriage house, it hit him. He should show her love, show her compassion. Maybe if he let her know that he cared about her, it would make her feel better. Maybe it was time for him to be in a relationship again. Maybe he was ready.
She approached the counter, grabbed the coffee bean grinder and made a cup of coffee. Then she sat down, gripping the warm mug in her hands and inhaling it’s steam. A good cup of coffee was comforting on a cold winter’s day. When you have nothing else to do but sit and ponder your predicament. Simply put, Eliza did this most mornings. It was a wednesday. On wednesday’s she would make her coffee, then go out to town to get the groceries. The people in the town were not friendly to anyone but their own kind. They typically talked about Eliza behind her back, calling her things like a wench or a vixen.
Many of them were just jealous because he was Edgar Allen Poe the famous author. Other’s knew what he was like and felt she was foolish for being with him in the first place. Eliza tried to disregard them, but it wasn’t always easy. Their cold, blank stares made her want to cry. It took everything she had not to break down in front of them. She was proud of her ability to stand strong despite the rumors.
Now, she leaned back in her chair and poured the coffee she had left down her throat. She grabbed a napkin from the table holder, wiped her mouth and pushed out of the chair. She walked into the hall noticing on sight that Edgar had gone out. His coat and hat were not hanging on the rack. She continued up the stairs not reflecting on it too long. She reached her room. It was a drab little thing. The walls were grey, the floors were wood and retained no heat, you could barely fit a bed in there. Eliza dressed quickly and grabbed a basket from the chair in her corner.
Before she left, she paused to look at that chair. It was plain, wooden, with no seat cover or anything to cushion you. It didn’t hold much appeal to the sitter. However, it was the first thing Eliza had ever really owned. When she was fifteen, she got her first job as a nanny for three small children. Seven of those chairs sat around a very small dining room table. That family never had much money so they made do with everything they had. However, one Christmas, they had invited Eliza to eat with them. She sat down on that chair, right in between Gregory and Dora, the two oldest children, and they served her cranberry sauce. She had never tasted it before so she scooped a big blob of it and proceeded to drop it on the chair. Unintentionally as it was, her face went as red as the stain and the two Smith’s forced a smile.
Eliza tried desperately to get the stain out of the wood but despite her efforts, a large, light pink stain remained. Rather than be mad, the Smith’s insisted she take the chair home. At first she didn’t understand because she had never been given a gift in her life. After Mr. Smith actually carried the chair back to the cold water flat she was living in at the time, it finally registered in her mind and she was delighted. To this day, there was a barely visible mark on the chair and Eliza smiled softly at the thought of the Smith’s and what a nice family they had been.
Just as she was about to leave, she heard the familiar pecking at the window. Walking over, she opened it and a little raven flew in. “Would you like some food birdie?” she asked and petted it’s little head. “No, actually I’d like to talk about you” the bird replied and she jumped about five feet in the air.
“You can talk?” she whispered. “Sure. Where do you think Mr. Poe got his poem from? The thin air?” the little bird cackled and Eliza fell into her chair. “Eliza, Edgar isn’t that twisted that he would create a poem like that from his mind.” “He’s not?” Eliza felt delirious. “Certainly not” the little bird shook it’s head and sighed “but that’s not why I’m here! Edgar is going to come home soon and try to apologize. You must forgive him because it is destiny.” “Destiny? What do I have to do with a thing like that?” “What do you have to do!?” the raven screeched with a surprisingly loud tweet “EVERYTHING! EDGAR’S ENTIRE EXISTENCE DEPENDS ON YOU!” Eliza closed her eyes. “I have to forgive and he will live?” “If you forgive him, that will give him something to live for. Even if he does die, we will know that we both had our fair share in trying to stop it!”
“Okay. So what are the rules? I forgive and everything changes?” “Absolutely not!” the bird screamed “you have to forgive him and then you have to love him. More then you already do anyway.” “What happens if I don’t?” “He drinks himself to death” the raven said simply. Eliza turned her back to the bird. “He’s never cared about me.” The bird flew in so she was now in front of Eliza. “Here’s the point, if you love him enough to do what is hard or what you don’t want to do, then that is the true testament. That shows courage.” Eliza sighed and looked at the chair once more. “I’m in. I’ll help you.” “Good. I have to leave now. Edgar’s coming. Go about forgiving him in anyway you want but don’t mess it up!” the bird flew out the window. “Wait!” Eliza called “what’s your name?” “Isn’t it obvious?” the raven called from a branch on a bare tree “Lenore!” So, he walked back to the house with the sun just peeking through the clouds. Just before he opened the door, Lenore appeared. “Hey blockhead! Missed me?” “Lenore! What are you doing here?” “Telling you how it is” the small raven nodded slightly as if agreeing with herself. “What are you talking about?” Lenore flew over and landed on his shoulder. “That girl in there, Eliza, she’s a good girl and she loves you. She won’t hurt you.” Edgar looked at her in confusion. “I know. I was going to apologize when I got inside.” “I know that fool!” she hit the side of his head with her beak “I know everything! But that doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you understand that you’re not just getting some girl. You’re getting a girl who loves you very much and will do anything for you. I know that for sure.” Edgar looked down, feeling guilty about how he mistreated her for so long. “Don’t feel guilty, just change it for the next time. Continue through life but don’t make the same mistakes and don’t hurt Eliza, or you will here from me!” she hit him with her beak again and flew up to a branch.
Edgar stood out front of the door for a few moments. “Don’t just stand there numskull! Go get her!” So, Edgar opened the door just as Eliza descended the stairs with her cape on and a basket in her hand. She was shocked and asked when he had come back. He told her a few minutes ago, and explained how bad he felt about everything that had happened. She accepted his apology well enough, and they left the house to get the weekly supplies from town.
She left the room quietly and walked down the stairs. Edgar was waiting for her at the bottom. “Edgar! I didn’t you had come back.” “I know. I wanted it that way.” He looked slightly embarrassed. “I realize that I haven’t treated you right in recent months and I was wondering…” he trailed off and looked around as if searching for something to continue his sentence “if I could walk to town with you.” She was flabbergasted to say the least. “Of course, if you want that.” His face brightened considerably and she wondered what had gotten over him. “Well, my lady” he held out his arm to her “let’s give the caring towns people something to whisper about.” Eliza grinned and linked their arms.
Edgar had certainly been right about the people in town. They gasped, rolled their eyes and whispered amongst each other, nobody was subtle about hiding it. Eliza got satisfaction out of stirring the town up a bit. They finally traveled into the local bakery, flushed and giggling. Eliza couldn’t be more pleased to see this change in Edgar. The owner of the bakery, a kind old man named Mr. Whitmore, smiled kindly at them. “Hello Eliza. How are you today?” “I’m fine Mr. Whitmore!” Ever since the older man had lost his wife Emma a few years ago, he repeatedly said that Eliza reminded him of her and loved it when she came to their house.
“And Edgar! It has been some time son!” “Yes sir, it has.” Edgar smiled lightly. “Unfortunately, the sudden death of my wife Virginia quite over took me and I didn’t want to see many people” his face grew slightly grave and his eyes got a far away look in them. Eliza wanted to know what he was thinking. “But, I have realized how unjustly I have been treating Eliza and I decided that I should pay more attention to her, rather than coming and going as though she wasn’t there” he gave a rather hoarse laugh and tried, unsuccessfully to crack a smile. “Well, that’s wonderful. Eliza here was distraught over you. You better not hurt her again.” Mr. Whitmore sounded like a protective father and Eliza loved it.
‘“Certainly sir.” Eliza loved Edgar’s bewildered expression more. “Here’s your bread Eliza” Mr. Whitmore said handing the loaf to Eliza and offering her a wink. “ Thank you Mr. Whitmore” she smirked in response before grasped Edgar’s hand in her own. “Goodbye sir, have a good day!” she called to him. “You too dear! Goodbye Edgar!” “Bye” Edgar called back. The pair opened the shop door and stepped into the streets of Boston. They went to the dry goods stores, hardware store and a few others before they bought everything on Eliza’s list. They proceeded to start home.
When they stood in the bakery, Edgar felt very awkward. He hadn’t spoken to Mr. Whitmore in a long time and wasn’t in on their conversation. However, when the conversation turned to him, he knew exactly what to say. After talking to him like any father figure would, Mr. Whitmore sold them the bread and wished them a good day. The rest of the outing was a flurry of grocery stores and before Edgar knew it, they were talking in the kitchen of his home.
When they got back, Edgar held the door open for Eliza and hung her jacket up on a hanger for her. Hmmm, Eliza thought, this could be nice. They both walked into the kitchen and sat down. “Can I ask you something?” Eliza asked. “Anything of course.” “Why did you suddenly change? What happened?” Edgar looked down at his lap blushing. “Well, I heard some women talking about you, saying horrible things. It made me realize how bad I have been treating you this past year. You had always been there for me to help and I brushed you aside” he shook his head sadly. “I felt horrible. I knew I had to make it up to you somehow.”
Suddenly time stopped. Ever since she was 17 when she first met Edgar through a friend, she had thought he was sent to her. She never dated, never even looked at any other man because she was waiting for Edgar. It suddenly occurred to Eliza that it might be the other way around. Maybe she was sent to Edgar to save him. To save him from the blackness that would surround him.
When Eliza asked him why he suddenly changed, he was expecting it, but wasn’t prepared for it. He tried to explain as best he could about how he was hurting and how his feelings had changed because of those women. Just as he got into more detail, Eliza appeared to have zoned out and he tried to get her back in the present. When he begins to leave, he decides to be bold and admits that he loves her. Her reply both baffles and assures him and he’s not prepared to ever forget her sweet voice saying, “Yes Edgar, I know.”
She was broken out of her reverie by Edgar’s hand on her arm. “Eliza, are you alright?” “I’m fine.” “Good” he smiled at her. Then he stood and shuffled towards the kitchen door. Before he left, however, he turned on his heel to look at her. “You know I love you right?” Eliza smiled slightly “yes Edgar, I know.” And from the window, though not see, Lenore sat perched on a branch. “The fool did alright” she smiled and shook her head.
Age 14, Grade 9
Preston High School