The lives of two men: Edgar Allan Poe, and a regular guy, parallel as they pursue moonlit women.
EXT. CHURCH STREET, PROVIDENCE – MIDNIGHT – PRESENT
Edgar walks along Church Street, one ear bud popped in, the other dangling off his chest. His hands clutch the straps of his backpack as he hurries home. Suddenly, a dog barks. His head cocks to the left, following the noise. At first, his gaze rests on the vibrant assembly of roses, each bush carefully pruned to perfection before they settle on Helen who is bent over slightly, smelling the blooms, watering can in hand.
EDGAR: Whoa... she's beautiful...
HELEN Hmm...? who's there?
Quickly, he jumps back, hiding in the darkness provided by the small, unlit street. Helen straightens her posture, looking about but seeing no one. She refills her watering can and finishes tending to her roses before disappearing into her home. Edgar watches her every movement, captivated by the glimmer of her skin in the moonlight.
EDGAR: I've seen her before...
He ponders this for a moment before continuing his walk home. Behind him, leaves flutter from the trees, indicating the Autumn season.
INT. PROVIDENCE ATHENAEUM – NOON – 1848
Whitman bores over a three-year-old issue of American Whig Review.
WHITMAN: The skies were ashen and sober...
The leaves they were crispéd and sere...
As Whitman reads aloud Edgar Allan Poe's "Ulalume" the candle beside her flickers with the winter wind blowing through a partially open. Snow gathers on the pane. The fire crackles with life. Whitman is the only person in the room, tucked away in a small alcove.
The top step creaks as Poe descends.
POE: Dear Helen, you're as warm as Dian.
WHITMAN: Am I? I haven't noticed.
Whitman's lips twitch slightly into a momentary grin before she rises to her feet, scrutinizing Poe. Her focus is on his face, studying his features carefully. Poe rocks on his feet, his hands clasped behind his back, looking around guiltily before his eyes rest on the pamphlet she had been reading.
POE: Some light reading, perhaps?
WHITMAN: Admiring a poem.
POE: By who?
WHITMAN: It was published anonymously. A shame really. A person with this kind of talent should be well-regarded.
POE: Maybe they had their reasons.
She rolls her wrist in an offhanded manner before sitting down, one leg crossed over the other, carefully adjusting her dress skirt. Her eyes lift slowly, meeting Poe's.
WHITMAN: Join me?
POE: If you insist.
He sits down beside her, close enough that their knees touch slightly. Their eyes once again lock together, sharing unspoken words. Whitman's expression softens slightly as her face approaches his.
POE: Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her... And tempted her out of her gloom...
He trails off, pretending to forget the next line. His lips curl into a sensual smile before he leans forward, kissing her. There's a tenderness between them but the kiss is quickly broken by Whitman who presses her hands to his chest, glancing nervously at the room's entrance.
WHITMAN: You know we shouldn't.
POE: Sweet Helen, you torment me with
your rejection. Tell me, who plants these seeds of doubt in your mind? Your friends? Your mother? None of them can keep me away from you.
Poe leans in for yet another kiss but Whitman quickly rises, crossing the room to the fireplace, pamphlet in hand. She busies herself by rereading "Ulalume," her eyes scanning the text.
WHITMAN: I replied – This is nothing but
dreaming... Let us on by this tremulous light!
POE: Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
WHITMAN: Its Sybilic splendor is beaming...
With Hope and in Beauty to-night...
POE: See! – it flickers up the sky through the night!
Whitman and Poe continue to recite the poem as they circle around each other in a distanced waltz. With each line they move closer and closer. With each exclamation, Poe advances toward Whitman but she deftly avoids his grasp, a look of
amusement plainly stamped on her face.
WHITMAN: Said we, then – the two, then – Ah,
can it... Have been that the woodlandish ghouls... The pitiful, the merciful ghouls...
POE: To bar up our way and to ban it...
From the secret that lies in these wolds... From the thing that lies hidden in these wolds...
WHITMAN: Had drawn up the spectre of a
planet... From the limbo of lunary souls...
POE: This sinfully scintillant planet...
From the Hell of the planetary souls?
The couple stands in the middle of the room. Their chests heave. The fire crackles with a soft, soothing sound, complimented by the thrill shriek of wind against the window. It rattles, pelted by snow. A barren tree branch scratches at an upper pane.
WHITMAN: So, you're familiar with the poem?
POE: You could say that.
WHITMAN: Do you happen to know the author?
Whitman raises an eyebrow in question.
POE: Perhaps, I am the author.
WHITMAN: Oh? And who would be your inspiration?
POE: A beautiful creature I saw for the
first time tending to her roses in the moonlight. Despite their splendid glory, they were no match for her melancholy beauty. She took refuge in my mind the moment I saw her.
WHITMAN: You've always been quite the
Poe offers a small smile, leaning forward to kiss her once more. With her distracted, he snags the pamphlet from her hand, pulling away with a victorious grin. He pulls a pencil from his pocket and signs his name in the margin of the page.
CUTS AS HE CLOSES THE PAMPHLET.
EXT. SWAN POINT CEMETERY – MIDNIGHT – PRESENT
The cemetery is deserted. The bright moonlight reflects off the tombstones. A soft breeze rolls through, ruffling the verdant grass. Crabapple trees are in full bloom. The pink petals dance on tree limbs and across the pathway. Footsteps are heard off screen as Helen and Edgar approach.
HELEN: This is crazy.
EDGAR: Just trust me.
Edgar guides Helen to a large tree besides an obelisk-like tombstone.
HELEN: Can I take off the blindfold now?
EDGAR: Not yet.
He spreads a blanket on the ground, smoothing out the edges in a nervous manner. For a moment, he pauses, admiring Helen in the moonlight. Helen rubs her arms, hugging herself. In turn, Edgar folds her into his arms, holding her close. Gently, he takes the blindfold off, letting it flutter to the ground. Helen blinks, surveying her surroundings with an air of confusion.
HELEN: Are we in a cemetery...?
EDGAR: I know it seems weird, but trust me, it's quite beautiful at night.
Together, they sit on the blanket, looking out at the cemetery.
HELEN: This is creepy...
EDGAR: Forget you're in a cemetery for a minute. Just look out and admire how the moon shines over the monuments. How the trees sway slowly. Listen to the silence. Feel the breeze on your cheeks. Admire the stars twinkling overhead.
Helen soaks in his words as she rests her head on his shoulder. Theirs fingers tangle together. A smile spreads across Helen's face.
HELEN: I can see why you brought me here.
He takes a deep breath, rubbing the back of his neck.
EDGAR: ... I have something to ask you.
Edgar reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small black box.
Her hands rise, cupping her mouth in surprise.
Edgar opens the box, revealing a small diamond ring.
Helen scrambles to her feet.
He reaches toward her but she pulls away.
EDGAR: Will you —
HELEN: I can't!
She shakes her head, still moving backward.
HELEN: I can't... I just... can't... You're an amazing guy... but your lifestyle...
EDGAR: I promise to stop.
HELEN: How many times have you made that
EDGAR: It'll be different this time. I swear I'll stop.
Edgar inches toward her, grappling for her hand, but without avail.
HELEN: Edgar, it just won't work.
He finally manages to grab her, holding her still by the wrist.
A single moment of silence passes before Edgar yanks her forward, causing their lips to collide.
She melts against Edgar's familiarity but then her eyes open wide and she pulls away, again shaking her head.
EDGAR: Please, I promise to stay sober.
She turns, studying his face.
HELEN: Do you swear?
EDGAR: I do.
He pulls her hands into his, pressing them against his chest.
EDGAR: I would give up the air I breathe if it meant I could be with you.
DISSOLVE TO: BALTIMORE, NEAR A LOCAL IRISH PUB – DAWN- OCTOBER 3, 1849
PASSERBY: Oh my...
Poe is slumped on a park bench. His face is sunken and pale. His clothes are cheap, ill-fitting, and dirty. His hair is greasy and unkempt.
In the background, the newborn sun creeps along the horizon, painting the scenery in deep golds and bright pinks.
Poe is unresponsive.
PASSERBY: Sir? Sir... are you alright?
The passerby edges forward with caution, his ear pressed against Poe's chest. After a moment, he straightens his posture, a dire expression on his face.
PASSERBY: The leaves they were withering and
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Vanessa CalouroWrite a Review