At the height of my fame I was known as the master of macabre, Poe the poet. But you, gentle reader may call me Edgar. It is with much displeasure I look upon your current world. The nightmares you now face are far more devastating than any I have poured from my pen. In hopes of diverting your attention I will tell you a bit about my own life.
Yes, in my day we had atrocities as well. Disease and tuberculosis. The enslavement of human beings for profit, great plantations built upon sweat of those who never saw a farthing for their labor. As for myself, I was orphaned at a young age, separated from my siblings and raised by a man called Allan. He hated me.
First, I will speak of the raven for I hear he is still an obsession of many. It was my wife, my sweet Virginia, who inspired that poem. “Edgar,” she told me, “choose a bird! One of dark and eerie countenance. Only such will move the minds of your readers, for they long to be frightened out of their wits!”
She then giggled her girlish laugh and I knew she was right. The poem I created sold by the hundreds, enabling me to begin my travels on what you in your modern world would call a ‘book tour’.
Virginia was my muse, my inspiration. She spoke of dark things; human beings buried alive, black cats and black death, the stench of coffins and great stone mansions that crumbled in the quaking earth. Many a night she would entertain me with her wild imaginings, all of which found a true place when I put pen to paper. Yet her dark fantasies worried me. Her behavior was peculiar, not like that of most women. Often in the night I found her perched on the balcony as if she meant to take flight.
Oh, she was a nubile creature! Our marriage was quite unconventional. When I wedded her she was but thirteen years old, a budding beauty, hair of silk and skin of peach. And I, in my lustful maturity (for I was then twenty seven) could not resist her coquettish charms.
What’s that you say? Pedophilia? The word was not in my vocabulary! Before you jump to any vile conclusions be assured; my love for Virginia was pure. She was family, my first cousin. We shared the very same blood! As such, I think I saw in her a bit of myself — my own reflection. I could not resist the charm of her lovemaking, the exquisite pinnacles we achieved, for who does not secretly desire carnal knowledge of one’s own self?
What’s that you say? Incest? Risk of birth defects? We knew nothing of your modern genetics! Even if we had, I certainly would not have stopped the union, for I adored Virginia with a passion that was sublime, a passion very few humans will achieve. Alas, she was to bear no children, a thing I have always regretted.
My true nightmare began when Virginia took ill with tuberculosis. In the stifled, slow moving days and the gloomy nights I watched as her body atrophied. She became a walking cadaver, a blood spewing entity, standing in the path of the reaper, doomed for the bed of death.
When Virginia passed from this world I was devastated. In my loneliness I even tried to replace her. I courted several ladies. I had affairs with the beautiful Nan Richmond and the illustrious Sarah Whitman. I even called upon the widow Elmira Shelton who had once been my fiance (before I met Virginia.) Yet my efforts were for naught. None could rival my true love. Though she was gone I still burned with passion for her.
I then traveled to Baltimore, on a speaking tour. It was there that the spirit of Virginia began to haunt me relentlessly. She came to me in dreams, visions and visitations. She was pale as chalk, thin as bone, with red stains of tainted blood still trickling from her lips. Yet to me she was lovely.
These visions lasted four nights and it became clear to me; if I wished to reunite with Virginia I must pass through the dark realm myself. I must enter the red masque, step beyond the veil and know the silencing of my own telltale heart.
And so it was outside a public house, on the streets of Baltimore that I drew my last breath.
The night was wet and blustery, chill of the early October winds setting in. I had been drawn from my chamber, beckoned by a bird. Yes, a raven. Of courses a raven! What else? I stood on the pavement in bare feet and a nightshirt. I was then encompassed in what I can only describe as a thick fog, soft to the touch of my skin, rich, relaxing and delicious. In that fog I could feel Virginia’s presence. Finally I saw her, nubile and fresh as she was on our wedding day. In that moment I was no longer tied to this earth. I joined Virginia in that place of enthralling darkness, to return nevermore.
Try as they might, doctors could report no discernible cause for my death.
This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Nightmare