I've returned to the beach again. I come here once a year, every year to visit her. I still blame myself, but I was young and selfish and completely in love. Not that she was any better. I'm convinced that there must be a god, some ultimate being in charge of keeping the balance in the universe. That's the only explanation I can think of to destroy what we had. A happiness so complete, it made the angels themselves green with envy.
I was a common man who had recently started up his own business. It was a small, drab thing, my book shop. I'll never know why she stopped in that day. With the other, better stocked and higher class book stores she was obviously raised with, she chose to enter my dreary establishment. But I've never regretted that she did. She was a high born lady with a sharp mind and keen intellect. That's how it all began, I in my plain shirt and stained trousers, and she in her tailored gown, dissecting and debating the works of Whitman, one of the most scandalous writers of the time (or any time really.) Somewhere between arguing essays and defending works, pushing the boundaries of polite society and reestablishing our own social norms, we fell in love.
It had always been her dream to live on the sea. Logically I knew I could never give her anything near the equivalent of the empire she was destined to inherit through an arranged marriage, but after many nights spent lying awake pondering our future, I began to plan. Every weekend I would take what few profits I had to bring supplies to the small bluff I had purchased several hours away by horse from the city. Months passed as I hurried to finish my project as she was running out of excuses to escape her father's favored suitor.
Finally my task was completed and we stole away on the only thing I had left after selling the shop weeks ago, my horse Julia. We rode for several more hours than I had been used to, the trip longer with two people than it had been by myself. When we had eventually arrived, tears began to run from her eyes as she looked around the cottage I had built us, our own kingdom by the sea.
That first week was every form of heaven I could have never imagined. We lived and laughed and loved more than that of those who were older than we, of many far wiser than we. I knew it couldn't last. The heavens had never favored me. The celestial imbalance had to be corrected, and they made it so.
The illness came as swiftly as the wind that blew over our beautiful home. It had taken only a night for the chills to take the life of my beautiful bride, and only an hour the next morning for the guards that were looking for us to find her body, myself frozen with grief beside it.
They buried her here on that night, those many years ago. Her family knew of her fondness for the water and the freedom it had inspired in her as a child. So here is where I return year after year;
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams,
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea-
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
-Annabel Lee, Edgar Allen Poe