And neither the angels in Heaven above, nor the demons down under the sea, could ever dissever my soul from the soul of the beautiful Annabel Lee.
The Sun dipped down into the water as the bright purple hues started to fade away. It was dark and dreary, yet also warm and calming in a sort of way. It made Dante feel a little bit at ease to know that he wasn’t the only one who rose and fell with the sky and the stars, who changed in phases like the Moon.
In so many aspects, he was the only one. He was the only one alive on Earth, the only hope for the future of the world, the only one who could possibly save the world. He was alone - disastrously, tragically alone, just like the Sun in the sky right before it’s joined by the other bright stars in the universe.
He was the only one worth anything and the only one worth nothing. He was simply the only one left.
The waves crashed against the sand, the white edges of the ocean sweeping against the beaches creating little cells of color against the bright sandy shores. The sea was one of the few things that was unaffected by the world ending, though it was vast and dangerous through its calm demeanor. It was like a hurricane - everything dangerous coming out of a calm, watchful eye, holding the storm together. The sea, like the Sun, was one of the few things Dante could rely on in this new reality. The sea and the sky, and their perfect balance. A balance he knew he’d never have, ever. Not when he was the only one.
Dante didn’t used to be so alone, though. He used to have a family, friends, people he cared about. But now they were all gone, like that watchful eye of a hurricane, holding in the serenity while the outside was a storm. Now Dante was the only one left on Earth, the only one to carry on life. The only hope for the future of the planet. He was so desperately alone, looking for balance, that he found the sea, with all it’s dangerous glory. The sea that had swallowed his people, the ones he loved in life, and those he didn’t know, killing them all until only he was left.
He remembered that day vividly. He was holding Graciela’s hand, walking with her on the beaches, when the waves came up behind them. She was telling him something - he couldn't remember what - but then the ocean came and consumed her as she brought out her hands, the wind that had once been flowing through her beautiful black hair now pulling her towards the sea. He remembered her racing forward, screaming his name. He remembered running to try and save her, but it was too late. He remembered screaming to her, grabbing her hand, and then lying awake next to her dead body.
He recalled it all, how he woke up from the ocean’s spell only to see a person he had loved so much dead next to him. He remembered looking up to see hundreds and thousands of bodies every which way he turned, yelling out to anyone who could possibly hear him, but no one responding. He remembered it all.
But most of all, he remembered Graciela’s pale face as he closed her eyes, crying into her dead shoulder, holding her tightly, hoping she would awaken. That all of this was nothing but a dream.
But it wasn’t, he realized, after days and days of watching the bodies sway in the wind and get buried in the sand. This was no dream; it was his reality. Everyone was gone. Graciela was gone. The world was quite literally his nightmare, and there was nothing he could do about it. A few days in he would go to the little shrine he had created for her, her name written in the sand. He would sit there and cry, the waves touching his feet, wiping away her name and his tears as they dropped down, wetting the beaches.
It was then that Dante started to realize the perfect duality of the sky and the sea, the sea bringing life to Graciela when she was alive, yet also killing her, and the sky shining through it all. He started to appreciate its symmetry, hoping one day, Graciela and all those he once loved would have their own places in the sky, their souls traveling up above to the heavens. Or maybe it was literal. Perhaps they were all on another planet, in another universe. Perhaps one day, he could find them again. But until then, there were only the angels in Heaven above and the demons down under the sea.
“Hello, Dante,” a voice said, quiet, but packing a loudish echo, holding together the ocean as the waves continued to crash against the sand. Dante knew that voice.
“Graci,” he said, using his old nickname for the girl he loved. “Graci - but how?”
Dante turned around to see Graciela, almost in the flesh, her body wavering through the air, her hair blowing against the wind just like the day that she died. Her face was a ghostly white, but her smile was the same smile of the stars in the sky.
“Never mind that,” she said, a small grin coming up on her face, washing away his loneliness like the waves did the sand. “Dante. It’s so good to see you.”
“It’s... good to see you, too,” Dante replied, thinking of all those sleepless nights where all he could picture when he closed his eyes was Graciela’s dead body, her limbs stretched out on the sand and her hair blowing in the wind. It brought his flashbacks of the day she died, her arm reaching out, yelling over the waves. There were so many sleepless nights, so many days of fatigue. So much wondering and wandering.
He and Graciela, they had truly loved with a love that was more than love. They loved like the waves loved the sand, like the stars loved the sky, like the balance between them. And then, she and everyone he had ever loved was gone, and it crushed him. It crushed him so much, he was practically as dead as the bodies strewn out on the sand. Suddenly, he was all alone, alone and powerless.
Without those he loved, he was lost. Lost and never to be found, on a planet with no hope for the future.
The only hope being him. Him with the faintest chance that he could restore the human race. If only he knew how.
“Graci,” Dante said again, feeling hope for once in his soul. Feeling like he suddenly wasn’t alone, wasn’t powerless, wasn’t as vulnerable as the people he loved, now buried in sand, just like any hope for the future. “Graci. I-I don’t understand…”
“I’m all alone, Graci. I couldn’t save you, and I left you all alone…”
A smile came across Graciela’s pale, translucent face, her bright blue eyes brightening up the dim sky. “Dante. The ocean spared you for a reason,” she paused here, her voice wavering. “The ocean chose you to survive the storm. You aren’t truly alone; you have your memories.”
Memories. Memories like this memory of his Graciela, this version of her that coaxed him into sleeping at night, into surviving the storm.
“Graci,” he repeated, staring into her eyes. “Graci…”
She smiled, lightly kissing him on the cheek. “Dante. You’ll be okay without me, alright? The sea and the sky chose you. You will survive.”
I will survive, thought Dante, as he slowly began to accept this. I will survive.
A large wave came up behind Graciela, her knowing smile growing wider. “Goodbye, Dante,” she said, her eyes turning a deeper blue that matched the wave above her. “Goodbye.”
And then, like it had before, the wave pushed Graciela in, holding her tightly and pulling her into the ocean. She began to disappear into the waters, Dante’s last glimpse of the bright blue eyes he had loved so much disappearing into the ocean, as he realized he was only looking at the horizon line, the perfect balance between the angels in Heaven above and the demons down under the sea.
(Author's note: Hey guys! This is both my first post-apocalyptic story and my first romance, so I know it's a little cringy, but please bear with my as I improve my writing! I really want to drive home the point that Dante is obsessing over Graciela not because that's what their love was like, but because he's sorta going insane from all the loneliness. I also want to make it clear that while I used some Christian themes, I'm not Christian, and I don't want to be offensive (same deal as Skies Above, just tell me and I'll take it down). And one more thing...Graciela is a hallucination. That's the intended way to read it, but of course, interpret it however you please. Enjoy!)