Something I’m working on for my Uni project due end of semester. Based off an indy game I played recently.
Annie has the most intoxicating scent. If I close my eyes hard enough and make a great effort, I can imagine it in my mind. That ageing smell of an old book, it’s like ecstasy to me. I’ve always been a fan of reading, ever since I was a young boy.
I stare at the dusty novel laying on the table in front of me and want nothing more than run my finger against it’s spine, but it seems to be too much effort for me. It was reading that first bought us together, Annie and I. We share an immense love of poetry. On the table next to the book is a photograph. This photograph of Annie and I was taken but a few months ago at Christmas by our mutual friend. It was taken just after we returned from our 2 week camping trip. We had the most wonderful time out there in the solitude of the woods. It wasn’t much of a change from our usual surroundings, but it was enough. But her face in the photograph… it’s blurry. As if water damaged. Truely perplexing, it is. I see my own face though. It depresses me. One would hope to be at least middle aged before he begins to develop wrinkles. Alas, time had caught up on me; I was not so lucky with my looks. I wonder why Annie stays with me. She is so beautiful, so young. Her hair is still a radiant shade of blonde, with not a grey hair in sight. I’m not so lucky in that respect. This was one of the only photographs we have together as a couple. Annie claims she isn’t keen on having her photograph taken. I understand — a camera can be very invasive. We did have a camera once, a few months ago in fact, but I woke up one day to find it smashed to pieces outside the back of our cabin lying adjacent to an axe. I didn’t like to ask how that came to be.
“Don’t frame that photograph darling, I don’t very much like it. Would you start on dinner?”
Annie enjoys adventure in our life, but I prefer it more bland. We’re so different in some ways. But in many more ways, we are so similar. I love her so much; we belong together. I don’t cook much for Annie as I always worry that it won’t be good enough. She loves to cook though. It is pure bliss to sit in the armchair and watch on as she prepares an evening meal. The smells dance around our little cabin, and I wish I would never have to leave. The clock ticking from across the room calms me, grounds me. I look over at the rusty stove in the corner of our kitchen. I feel like I haven’t eaten in decades, yet I don’t feel hungry. And when did we let that stove get so dirty? Annie hates mess. It’s a wonder she puts up with me, I’m quite a messy person. I walk over to the stove; it’s so cold. I needn’t even touch it to feel the freezing temperature it radiates.
“You always put too much salt in dear, remember your blood pressure!”
When we moved into this quaint little cabin, the first thing I had put on the empty wall was a stanza from our most beloved poem by our favourite poet. I had framed it on the wall in the kitchen, just above the sink. A wonderful little piece entitled ‘For Annie’ by Edgar Allan Poe. It was a poem that never truly spoke to me until I met my dearest Annie. It was strange that I fell in love with someone who shared the same name as the women from my favourite poem. It was as if we were meant to be. I didn’t purposely seek out to fall in love with someone name Annie, it just happened. I had admired Poe and his works for many years. It was he who had inspired me to start writing in fact. I write for many hours a day. I sometimes worry I let my work destroy my life, but Annie is so understanding. I recite the stanza to her every evening as we sit by the fire. It always cheers me up. And her too.
“But my heart it is brighter than all of the many stars in the sky, for it sparkles with Annie — it glows with the light of the love of my Annie — with the thought of the light of the eyes of my Annie.”
She never comments on it, but I know she loves it. It is so romantic. Annie loves to sit by the fire. She makes sure to light the fire pit every evening; she must get very cold. Though when we first bought this house, there was no fireplace. Annie begged to have one installed and I complied, though fire frightens me very much. We sit in the armchair every evening together and we watch the flames dance above the wood. Annie says it calms her. Though it unsettles me, I don’t like to say anything. I wouldn’t want to upset her.
“Aren’t the flames just gorgeous, my love?”
I pass the old wardrobe as I move towards the bed. I am so tired, and even walking seems to drain me. We bought this wardrobe soon after moving in, a souvenir of our flea market days. But the mere thought of the wardrobe tires me, as if it is sucking all the energy right out of my body. The bed taunts me. I am so tired, yet I cannot lie down and sleep. Though we never did sleep much in this bed.
“Come to bed, dear. Let us talk…”
I love her so much.
The photograph beckons me back over to it, and I comply. But as I draw closer and focus my eyes, I am startled. It has changed. No longer has it been damaged by the waters in my mind, no longer does my brain blur Annie’s face. Her mouth is now upturned into a hideous frown. She looks as if she is about to cry. But we had fun that night. We celebrated and we ate and we danced. We posed for that photograph together, hands interlocked and madly in love. Had I done something that had upset her?
I don’t let her keep the lights on at night, though I know she is afraid of the dark. But I can’t sleep with them on. The wind howls outside and rattles the windows as if a dangerous beast is trying to break in. No wonder Annie gets frightened. She asks to at least keep the fire lit as evening draws closer, but I deny her that request too. The cabin could easily catch alight. I worry it’s too much of a fire hazard, what with it being made entirely of wood. It’s for her own safety. Does this upset her? I can’t even bear to look at myself anymore. Do I ever even make her happy?
I walk to her beside table. Sat upon it is a dying… or rather dead, plant. She must have forgotten to water it recently. Annie loves all things of nature. She begins every morning with a walk through the forrest that surrounds our little cabin. Oddly enough, she rarely brings plants inside the cabin. I suppose we are surrounded with so much nature outside, we don’t feel the need to bring any inside. At least, I don’t. Perhaps I should encourage her bring more plants inside. If I weren’t so tired, I would go right now and walk through the forrest. I would find the most beautiful flowers I could, and bring them inside. Throw out the dead plant and place the new, thriving ones on Annie’s bedside cabinet whilst I wait for her to return. She would love that. Just like I love her.
I walk to the window, but it is boarded up. Annie doesn’t like the sunlight waking her in the morning, and recently insisted I board up the only window in the cabin. In the past, Annie and I would stand by this window for hours and just gaze outside through the vast forrest. But we seemed to take fewer and fewer walks as time went on. In fact, my walking boots went missing last week. I assumed a bear had taken them from the front porch. It would be improbable, but not impossible. Perhaps I should ask Annie if she’d like to take a walk this evening. I’m sure I can find some other shoes to wear.
I pass our poem again, gazing over it once more. But alas, the poem has changed too! It is the same poem, but a completely different verse. How can this be?
“And I rest so composedly, now, in my bed, that any beholder might fancy me dead — might start at beholding me, thinking me dead.”
I stumble back over to our bed; I must rest. The clock still ticks. But once again, the bed refuses to accept my tiresome body. I could never sleep without Annie next to me, maybe that is why I cannot sleep at this moment. She will be back soon. Though it feels as if I’ve been awake for ages. Did Annie leave me?
“Can we talk? Please.”
That incessant ticking of the clock. It’s driving me insane. With each tick, I fall further and further into the darker places of my mind. I’ve wasted so much time in my life. Did I ever stop to show Annie how much I cared? And what is this, sitting on the bed in front of me? A wedding ring. It can’t be. Where the hell is she? She’s lurking in the shadows, watching me. Taunting me. That damn clock, it never stops. This cabin is a prison. I feel I ought to leave, but I prefer the darkness inside. I could not face the sunlight outside. Even as it bleeds through the cracks in the boarded up windows, I draw back from it. And now the floorboards are pounding underneath my feet. A constant beating banging from below. Did I…? No, no it can’t be true. I didn’t do it!
I stumble back to the kitchen. Back to safety and happy times. But the photograph, no. It’s changed again. Annie is pushing me away, like she’s angry. She is always so angry. So violent. And me… my face. It’s withered and falling apart. It’s as if it’s been burnt. I cannot look any longer. I retreat to my bookcase where I feel comforted. But the books deny my touch. I want to rip them apart and let their pages flow along the stream of the river. Heck, I should just hurl the whole bookcase into the river! Those damn words, my whole life has been consumed by them. Annie always hated reading. I could tell. She lied when she had told me she loved it. She grimaced when I would share my stories. It was always all about her. Her feelings, her worries.
“Sit down. We need to talk.”
I hate her so much. I should take all the lightbulbs from our cabin and throw them away. That will show her. I should block out the sun, and cause incessant darkness. Or better yet, I should blind her. Perhaps throw boiling water into her face. Or chemicals. That way, she will spend the rest of her life in darkness. She will always be afraid. Just like she makes me afraid. She makes me life my life in fear. In fear of her. On the table sits her favourite mug. I should just smash it. Perhaps I could use the broken pieces to gouge her eyes out. I want to rip that photograph up too, but I can’t bring myself to even touch it. Instead, I read our poem. My poem. She never appreciated it like I did. Once again, it has changed. Morphed into something more sickening: the final verse.
“The sickness — the nausea — the pitiless pain — have ceased, with the fever that maddened my brain — with the fever called ‘living’ that burned in my brain.”
I walk to the dresser in our bedroom. Her handheld mirror still sits upon it, a small crack in the glass. It could not take her ugliness. Decide to rid itself from the world rather than having to deal with looking at her day after wretched day. I don’t blame it. How do I put up with her? A box of pills sits atop of the nearby shelf. Had I taken them today? One should take pills every morning, everybody knows that. But are they even mine? Why torture myself trying to remember? I return to the bed; I am drawn to it. It was where we would always talk. We would sit on that bed and talk through our troubles and problems. But then Annie got more physical. More violent.
“I’m done talking.”
I hate her so much. All of these pathetic souvenirs from our relationship, they’re all lies. The clock, the wardrobe — lies. I want to tear the clock off the wall and throw it into the fire, push the wardrobe on its side and set it alight. Tick tick. That clock. It’s still ticking, It’s getting inside my head, consuming me. I suddenly feel an surge of energy and rip open the doors of the wardrobe. Tick tick. What is this, hiding underneath a dark sheet? Tick tick. I gently slide it off. Tick tick. My God, what is this? It can’t… it isn’t… It’s already withered beyond recognition. Burnt to a crisp. But bodies take months to… How long has it been? I can’t even remember how I did it. I stagger back from the wardrobe, feeling that burning sensation in my throat. I desperately hold my vomit down. I need to leave. Right now. The door is so far away, but I can make it there if I try.
What is this I hear coming from the porch outside? There’s someone out there. The police, they’ve come to get me. They’ve found me. I deserve it. Is that why I’m here? Hiding from them? I walk closer to the door. I can make out the silhouette of a women. I reach for the doorknob but my hands will not grasp it. An unseen energy pushes me away from it. And then the women speaks.
“He always did worry this place was a fire hazard. It will just be a very believable coincidence, nothing more. ”
That voice. No, this cannot be. I hear liquid splashing against the windows of the cabin. The house around me begins to burn. Not like this. Please, not like this! Let me go, please! I can’t breathe. I need to get out. The door and the window are useless. I can only hide and hope that I can survive the fire.
I run to the wardrobe, cover myself with a dark sheet and I wait.