Morning with Edgar and Annabel

Morning with Edgar and Annabel

By Steve O’Connor

It was a frustrating morning for Edgar. He slapped his forehead three times and growled at the lone article that sat on his computer screen, the cursed cursor blinking stupidly at the end of it like a flashing warning of a cul de sac. He pushed his chair back and rose muttering as Annabel Lee came into the kitchen in her red plaid flannel housecoat with the furry collar and her comfy-bunny slippers. “Morning darling,” she said. “Is the coffee ready?”

“It’s just finished…finished…cooking…finished…”


“Percolating! Yes! Goddammit!”

She took her ‘I Love Mum’ coffee mug out of the cupboard and poured a coffee. She scrutinized it for a few seconds, and deciding it was a bit dark, added some water.

“Percolating, percolating, percolating,” Edgar repeated.

“You want me to pour you a coffee?”

“That would be nice, nice, ah, you know, fantastic, sweetheart.”

Annabel Lee reached into the cupboard and took out his favorite coffee mug, the big one he had purchased at a gift shop in the Bahamas. It featured an orange starfish drawn by a local Bahamian artist, and, in aquamarine letters the name of the resort they had visited together three years ago: The Kingdom by the Sea. She poured his coffee and got the milk from the refrigerator. Edgar liked it with a dash of milk. She handed it to her husband, who was now standing above the computer, glaring at the screen. “There you are, sweetie,” she said, and then, as she was an empathetic and observant life partner, inquired, “What’s wrong, Dear?”

“It’s the damned words again. I’ve lost them.”

“You had them last night,” she assured him. “Because I remember you said, ‘Annabel, nothing can ever dissever my soul from your soul.’ Dissever, Edgar, that’s a good one. A rare one.”

“Yes! Dissever! Yes! Really no difference between sever and dissever, is there?”

Annabel shook her head, but added, “It sounds better. Ever dissever sounds better than ever sever.”

“Dammit, you’re right. I could see that last night, but this morning…what else did I say?”

“Something about a seraph?”

“Seraph. Seraph. Hmmmm. Rings a bell, but I’ve lost it. Did I call you a seraph?”

Her face bunched up in thought. She sipped her coffee and said, “Uhm, no. You said the seraphs were jealous of our love, I think. Isn’t a seraph like an angel? Like a seraphim?”

“Goddam it, Annabel! You’re right again! Of course! Angels! And I was imagining—God forbid, Annabel, that you were going to your… shit! Not your grave! Your…the other thing that means grave!”


“Not tomb. Like a tomb.”

“Uhm…charnel house?”

“No, but goddamit Annabel that’s a good one. Lemme write that down.” He sat at the computer and typed out Charnel House. “Good, yes. But it wasn’t that…”

“I forget, Edgar.”

“Well, I’m screwed. I have to contribute something to Dark Mystery Magazine, and my poetic words have pretty much evaporated. It’s just footballs and the weather and political shit up there. I can’t get any deeper. That’s what comes from reading newspapers!” He gulped some coffee and slumped in despair. Finally, after the word, “The,” he typed out “hell with it.”

Ah, but Annabel Lee set down her coffee, and took his graying head in her arms. Softly she stroked his temples and said, “You’ve just misplaced your words in some inconvenient part of your brain, Dear. It’s the stress of a deadline. They will come back. They always do. They always do.”

“Sepulchre!” he shouted, rising so suddenly that Annabel placed a hand over her flannel-covered breast. She recovered herself and cried, “Yes! That was it.”

“It was your endearing concern, my love, that triggered the cerebral neurons to showers of fiery sparks! Dear Annabel! Your love has op’ed the pale and ponderous gates of verbiage. And now I see before me that vast sparkling treasury of words, that hoard lying unguarded by the foul dragon of debilitating age and decrepitude.”

“Oh. See? Your words are back.” She kissed his cheek and said, “Write away, Darling. I’m going to take a shower.”

Edgar gazed sweetly at her departing figure, recalling their Bahamian adventure. The one real vacation they’d taken in twenty years of marriage, once the kids were old enough to be left on their own for a week. He saw her in her black bathing suit, standing with one foot in the ocean and the other on the shore, laughing in the sun and inhaling the rich sea breeze that toyed with her dark hair, and how he had shuddered to imagine what he should do if ever she… Edgar began to jab the keyboard with wild fingers.

The wind from the sea tossed the hair of you and me
In my kingdom by the sea my sweet Annabel Lee
And the seraphs on high, way up in the sky
Were jealous of the love we shared—
Jealous ever since we paired.
So the wind got cold and caused your spirit to fold
You wound up in a charnel house
But that really couldn’t douse
The flame of our feeling the seraphs were stealing

His coffee was getting cold, and he went to replace it with hot stuff. Annabel sallied out of the bathroom, rubbing a towel over about her head. “How’s it going, Edgar?” she asked.

“Oh, it needs some work. A lot of work, really. But with you, my Muse…my lovely beautiful sweet Musie girl, I’ll get it right.”

She peered over his shoulder and read, then said, “You know best, Edgar, but I’d begin it like a story in a beautiful old legend:

It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee.”

He typed quickly and then sat back and read the lines aloud. “Wow! Wow! Stunning! Okay, I’m on track now! Thanks baby! I love you with a love that is more than love!”

“Aw. It’s so romantic having a poet for a husband. I hope you love me forevermore and will leave me…nevermore!”

The fine frenzy of the wild fingers paused over the keyboard momentarily as Edgar gazed heavenward. “Hmmm. Nevermore. Oh, I can use that somewhere! Definitely!”

“Whatever you write, Edgar, I know people will be ravin’ about it.”

His eyes narrowed and he stroked his chin. “Raven. Hmmm. Nevermore. Oh yeah.”

2 Responses to Morning with Edgar and Annabel

  1. Malcolm Sharps says:

    Mr O’ having some fun with genres. What do we call this one? A bathrobe comedy? I see it as taking place in the fifties with some over-vivid colour to match the kitsch ornaments. Dark Mystery Magazine? That’s fifties all right.

  2. David Daniel says:

    This is a fun piece — and it does justice to the spirit of Poe. He’s known for his horror and crime fiction and his somber metrical poems, but he was also a genuinely funny guy. See a story like “X-ing a Paragrab” or “The Man Who Was Used Up.”

    Of local note (from Westford CTV): On October 29 from 2-4 p.m. we will celebrate and memorialize Poe’s time in Westford, the impact he had on the community and the family he became so close to. We will dedicate a new David Christiana sculpture in memorial to Poe’s life in the place called his paradise (Westford) at the Parish Center of the Arts.