A young girl lays dreaming
on a night e’er dreary,
when a tap-tap-tapping on the window
rouses her from sleep so deep
she opens the window, guessing that it was rain
and nothing more.
A raven flew in and made roost on a shelf
looking down upon the child
and it spoke softly once, and only once-
I awake to my alarm clock screaming at me to get my ass out of bed. My head is swimming, but I ignore it as I shower and dress, concluding that I simply needed a caffeine rush. I go downstairs to greet my dad, who is slumped over his writing desk like normal at five in the morning, but he never responds to me.
I turn him over to get him up, but instead his pallor is that of death and his muscles lifeless, and as I turn to call for my stepmother, I see that a girl is hanging from our ceiling. I can only cry out in shock. I don’t know what was going on, but this was insanity.
My alarm goes off again, and I’m back in my room once more, sweating and shaking in bed.
This time, my dad’s beside me, his messy fauxhawk getting into his brownish crimson eyes, staring at me worriedly, like the devil’s just possessed me or something.
"Annabel, is everything alright?" he asks, his worry shown in more than just his voice and body language. "You were screaming in your sleep."
I glimpse at his makeup, which reminds me of how pale he was in my nightmare, making my spine tingle uneasily.
"I'm fine," I lied, "I'll get up now..."
Dad kisses my forehead, making a small, thin black lipmark there in tenderness, telling me that he would be downstairs. I simply nod, praying he won't have an early death at his desk like he did in my dream.
As I shower, I think about how unfortunate I am to be a descendant of one of history's most fucked up horror and suspense writers. My name is Annabel Lee, named after my father's favorite poem from his great grandfather, Edgar Allan Poe.
Unknown to public record, Poe apparently had a secret love affair away from his cousin-wife, Virginia Eliza Clemm, and no one truly knows who the other woman was other than my father's mother, who passed away from brain cancer.
Once I'm downstairs, I dread going into the living room, but then sigh in relief as I watch my dad rise from his leather armchair to make himself coffee. He liked it black , and if he was in a good mood, he would dunk a few chocolate chips in there to make it a mocha.
I smile as I watch him make his coffee and pour out a separate mug of my own after he finishes. I wait at the table, expecting to see my mousy, blonde, preppy stepmother, but it comes as a slap in the face remembering that she left us two years ago.
As a good ol' Christian woman, she didn't really enjoy us wearing all black everyday around her, so she left quietly and without a fuss.
Father has now been reclused twice.
“Annabel,” He calls, breaking into my thoughts, “have you taken your medicine yet?”
“Not yet. I was planning on taking half a dose.” I sigh, not wanting to take the drugs. He frowns in concern as he takes a long drink from his mocha.
It makes me nervous.
“Take a full dose. The dream- or night terror as it may well have been- sounded severe, externally.”
I hated being a schizoid. When we first realized that I had paranoid schizophrenia, I was already put down in a straitjacket at the age of ten. I had fallen asleep in class and woke up screaming and prattling on about red sythes and how everyone was going to die. It took all of my dad’s self control not to sue the school after we got my mental health results saying I had legit issues with my brain.
I was prescribed one of the strongest meds for my type of schizophrenia, so I was normally to take one pill for lesser attacks, two for severe, but no more than twelve in a single week.
Let’s just say that I never really stuck to the system.
Even though I hate the taste of the medicine, I’ve been semi-overdosing because it doesn’t seem to work anymore. In fact, my hallucinations have been getting stronger over time.
“Annabel Lee,” dad coughs sternly, “did you hear me?” His crimson eyes stare with fear and worry which makes me cringe in guilt.
“Yeah, I did...”
After reluctantly taking two pills, I kiss him goodbye and get myself on my way to school.
The minute I step foot on campus, a voice calls for me in the distant background. I turn my head to the left to see Steve Johnson, the most popular boy in Davis Mason High and my best friend since fifth grade.
I grimace at him, for I had sworn off from his association because he gets way too much attention. He’s slicked his strawberry blonde locks into your good-ol-Southern-boy haircut, wearing the Mason Dove varsity football jacket, covering a Blink-182 tee and sporty sweats and sneakers.
I tend to forget how we became friends in the first place, for we’re just on such opposite sides of the cultural spectrum. I’m an outcast, and he blends right the fuck in with the mundane.
Steve smiles wide and tries to casually hug me with one arm over the shoulders, but I slap him away, not in any mood to tolerate his antics.
“What the fucking hell do you want, grease-head?” I snap. I only say this because I am not a morning person.
He pretends not to hear the annoyance in my voice or the insult I’ve been using for him since freshman year.
“I’ve just been thinking about you lately,” Steve responds sheepishly. “The Winter Ball is coming up, and I was wondering if you were still available to go with me.”
Oh, this poor man...
He’s been bugging me about this stupid ball that his military class was hosting for a fucking month now, and still hasn’t taken a hint.
“Me, go to a stupid military dance with you?” I scoffed, “they wouldn’t even let me in through the door with my looks, because I would look like a fucking horror doll to them.”
“Besides, even if I did go with you, do you really think that they would leave you the fuck alone about having the most freaky looking girlfriend ever?” I went on, “because that’s what they’re going to think. And assume.”
Steve flushed hotly to his ears in embarrassment, folding his hands behind his back.
"I figured I'd ask anyway." He apologized.
"I appreciate it," I lied politely.
Sometimes it was better to be polite than blunt, even though it was harder. We went our separate ways, and thinking over what I said, I wish I could take it all back.
Steve was no longer the boy who belonged with neither the outcasts nor the cliques, but a normal, white guy with no girl to worry about, a sporty lifestyle, and just romping through life like an overexcited puppy.
I wish he had stayed being the post-punk rocker boy I knew when I was little. It would be easier to be seen around him in the very least. Lost in my head, I was thinking over what to do in my lunch hour, then heard a bird screeching loudly overhead in its flight. A swift blur of black darted down to the sidewalk near me, making my blood freeze in shock.
"Nevermore!" It cried," Nevermore!"
I paled, for I knew only of one raven that would do that in front of me. She must've needed to tell me something important. At that point, my lunch hour was already decided for me by the spirits of the dead, it seemed.
The raven flies off after a few moments of staring at me, and my stomach lurched to my throat in anxious panic.