As you read, please keep in mind, this is not a complete story, just the idea for a story. It was inspired by a dream I had a couple nights ago.
This girl basically tags along with a beautiful boy she admires from afar. They spend a lot of time driving around in a car. She visits his house and insanity ensues. All of the violent scene was in the dream.
I really liked the idea of these two having a twisted relationship. He is constantly used by the people around him. This makes him bitter and angry. She allows him to use her, while being the only stable part of his life.
Yes, I know the title kind of sounds like a Poe story. It is deliberate.
Dream 2015-01-15 House on Usher
She liked him. He was soft spoken, beautiful, and completely out of her league. Pale blue eyes, like ice. White blonde hair, thin and delicate, he wore jelled and spiked. Everyone at school found him mysterious and cool. At least, that is what it appeared to her. Needless to say, he had many admirers, from both sexes. She had watched him from afar all through high school.
She was Beth the nobody. Her grades were decent, but not enough to get her any notice. Her figure was too chubby to fit in the fashionable clothes, if she had had the money to buy them. She toed the line and was too well behaved for the dark kids or troublemakers. She was just different enough, that she didn’t fit into any group.
Then when they started attending college, she noticed that he walked there. She happened to pass him on Usher Rd. It was a good five miles to the college from Usher. So, after a few weeks she got up the courage to offer him a ride.
To her surprise, he accepted. She didn’t let it bother her that he didn’t remember her from high school. After that she picked him up and dropped him off at the corner of Usher and Pine.
He was quiet and didn’t talk much, but she didn’t mind. Just getting to be in his presence was enough. She allowed her self to indulge in fantasies of him really being with her.
She did cry the night after he told her about his girlfriend. It didn’t last, but it put her in her place. She was the ride, not the girl.
He climbed in the car and there were bruises on his face and a split in his lip.
“Lance! What happened?”
“Nothing.” he said sullenly.
Beth was so upset she broke their unspoken rule and she reached out to touch him. “Who did this to you?”
He pulled back glaring at her. “None of you damn business!”
She put both hands on the steering wheel and stared hard at the logo. She slowly got herself under control and shifted into drive.
Beth stopped the car a block from school. As Lance was getting out she said softly, “You shouldn’t let people treat you that way.”
“What the FUCK do you KNOW?! You let people treat you like SHIT!” He slammed the door and stormed off.
She didn’t try to stop the tears. “Not everyone,” she said to the empty car, “just you.”
The next day, he did not meet her. It tore at her that it was over, but maybe it was for the best. He didn’t really want her help. Nothing she could do would really make any difference.
Still, she couldn’t stop herself from showing up again. The corner was empty, but she pulled up and waited for a few minutes anyway. She was getting ready to pull away when she saw him step from behind a tree. He climbed in and she didn’t say anything, just went to school like always.
As he climbed out he said, “Thanks.” It was low and he was facing away from her, but she heard him and smiled.
Two years of college, rides, and confidences.
On day he asked something he never had before. He wanted her to drive him all the way home. No one ever went to his home.
She pulled into the gravel drive on Usher Rd.; it was a house trailer on a quarter acre lot. It looked like there used to be neighbors closer, but the spaces on either side were vacant.
Lance looked at her across the car interior. Something in his eyes seemed to be almost a challenge. To her or himself, she didn’t know.
“Want to come in?” he asked.
She wasn’t brave, but there was no way she was going to let this opportunity pass her by.
She stepped into a world of chaos. The body of a woman lay on the floor. Empty eyes stared blankly at the ceiling. A creepy happy smile contorted the lips. The occupants of the house stepped around it as if it were a dog at their feet. Not paying it the slightest notice. Lance looked at it briefly and sighed, then turned back to his siblings.
The girl, a brunette looking only slightly like Lance, could have been younger or older, it was hard to tell. She may have been pretty if not for the vile things that spewed from her mouth and the vicious expression on her face. She was skeletal thin and the muscles under the skin of her face twisted up into the most horrible expressions.
Lance yelled back and they fought. She couldn’t follow the conversation most of it sounded like complete gibberish to her.
A young boy stood on the opposite side of the body from her. He too was thin with large brown eyes. He stared at Lance and kept saying his name over and over. Lance was too busy dealing with the girl to notice.
The girl was waving a pill bottle around stormed down a hall and slammed a door. Lance pursued and stood banging on the door hollering at her.
She volunteered to help talk with the sister and sent Lance back to his brother.
As she stood talking to the door, not really sure what she was saying, just trying to be calm. The door suddenly opened and she was drug inside. The door slammed behind her and the lock clicked.
The girl talked about Lance not like a sister, but like a jealous possessive wife. How he left her at home to wander the town, his shame of her, how he cheated on her with other men and women. She was drowning in the insanity of the conversation. A small part of her mind thought selfishly of herself. Even the jealousy mad sister didn’t see her as a possible object of Lance’s affection. The moment of self-pity passed quickly, there was no time for it.
Beth took over dealing with Crystal, but he was still wrapped up in it. Mother had finally killed herself while he had been gone and Crystal was out of control. Brian needed to get out of this house.
His little brother still stood at his side calling his name. It barely registered. Brian was on many medications and had significant allergies. He required constant care; there was no way he could remain in this house.
He turned to Brian, “you are going to live with Grandmother.” But what was he going to do with Crystal?
Uncomprehending eyes stared back at him, “oh no” Brian said.
“It will be okay.” There was no way he could get Crystal out of the house.
“Oh no” Brian turned and walked away.
“She will take good care of you.” He would have to stay and live here with her. He was the only one left who could care for her.
He watched his brother take the phone receiver from the wall.
“Do you want to call her?”
Brian pushed three buttons and put the receiver to his ear. When someone picked up on the other line he whispered, “I’m not going to make it.”
Lance finally snapped out of his internal struggle. There was something very wrong. Brian’s eyes were fully dilated and there was an empty pill bottle in his hand. Empty prescription bottles littered the kitchen. Lance snatched up the hidden set of keys to his mother’s car. He had to get Brian to the hospital now.
Beth continued to try and calm the sister, but the girl just continued to spew her anger and frustrations at the room, not listening.
Suddenly the girl stopped and turned to stare at the door. Her scream rent the air. Beth watched, shocked and frightened. The girl tore open the door and stormed out. The living room and kitchen were empty. Lance was gone. Shrieks of fury filled the air. A twisted hateful love obsession. The sister picked up a pair of ear buds and stuffed them into her ears, then she took the plug end and shoved it into the nearest electric outlet.
Beth cried out in horror as the electric arched from the outlet up the girls arm. She ran in and threw herself against the girl. Her world went black.
She awoke to strong hands shaking her. She tried to fight back. “Hey, its okay.” said a firm elderly voice. She looked up to see an old woman leaning over her.
Too many questions clogged her head; the one that came out was “is she dead?”
The old woman blinked. She glanced to the side and said “yes”
Beth didn’t want to, but she couldn’t stop herself from looking. She lie on the kitchen floor and turned her head to see the body lying next to her. It was the mother.
“My daughter is dead, but you and Crystal are going to be okay.”
Beth scrambled to her feet and the old lady helped her to stand. “What happens now?”
“I don’t have much room, but Brian and Crystal will have to come live with me. Lance will get an apartment on campus or rent a place of his own. He is-” she was cut off by a horrible scream.
“NO!” Crystal’s mad voice filled the air and a red rose blossomed on the old woman’s chest. Beth looked over the lady’s shoulder and watched Crystal pull the kitchen knife out of the grandmother’s back. She raised it over her head and slammed it down again. Crystal rode the body to the ground and continued to stab over and over.
It was too much, Beth ran.
She didn’t remember getting into her car, but she could hear the crunch of the gravel as she backed out of the drive and the jolt of the car going in the ditch on the other side of the road. She sat there trying to pull herself together; she watched the house, afraid to see Crystal charge out of the house bloody knife raised. Instead she saw curls of smoke leak out the edges of the kitchen window and front door.
With hands shaking so bad she could hardly function, Beth pulled out her cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. By the time they promised a truck was on the way, she could see flames were licking the roof.
Brian died of an allergic reaction to an overdose of drugs.
Lance disappeared; she didn’t know what happened to him.
Over the years she tried to deal with her feelings for him and how they were changed and affected by the horrible events of that day.
She became an artist.
Her most acclaimed piece “Rose Fire” was being shown at a gallery event. She was talking to people when a beautiful man with long white hair stood before her. She was stunned into silence.
Lance, the ghost from her past, the inspiration for most of her work, stood before her.
A sharp laugh broke the moment of silence. “It never fails.” A tall brunette with hair swept up into a sheik bun, exposing her long neck. Crimson red lips were pulled back in a sharp condescending smile. “No one can resist my Tristan.” She curled a hand around his arm possessively, her red nails looking like stains against his white sleeve.
‘Tristan’ looked at her with cold bored ice blue eyes. No recognition. His pale hair hung free, reaching his waist. His suit was the exact same shade of white, so the only color was his eyes. For her there was no doubt, this was Lance. Not that he would know her by name. All of her art was signed ‘Cassandra’.
Seeing him again released all kinds of emotions, her heart beat faster and she could feel heat rising in her face.
The woman laughed again. “Don’t let it bother you.”
Beth turned her attention to the lady smiling down at her. A crimson dress encompassed her slim body like a second skin.
She held out a sharp tipped hand, “I’m Sylvia French.” Beth shook the cold steel like grip. “I love your painting. As you look at it from different angles in the room, it changes form. I clearly saw a rose made of flame. My darling Tina swears it is just a beautiful red rose.” A petite woman dressed all in black with matching long black hair, slipped an arm casually around Sylvia’s waist. “While Tristan saw only a blood stain. It is fascinating.” Sylvia gave Tristan’s arm a squeeze. He reached into a pocket with his free arm and came out with a business card. He handed it toward her.
Beth took the card careful not to make skin contact.
“If you decide to sell, please let me know.”
The rest of the show passed in a blur.
Finally, she found herself standing at home in her art studio. All around her was a sea of white and blue. Paint, her therapist had said. Get your feelings out, work through the emotions and they will have no more power over you.
Years she had spent painting and in a few minutes she was pushed all the way back to that young woman, in love with a dream. But also betrayed, abandoned and angry. He had left her to handle the police, reporters, and lawyers. She didn’t know how or when he found out about his home, but he never returned or said goodbye. If she dreamed he would swoop in like a knight and save her, she would have been sorely disappointed.
For a few months she continued to drive by Usher & Pine, hoping to see him. Finally, she gave up and got on with her life.
Now fifteen years later, just seeing him had brought her world to chaos. She was just as confused about her feelings for him as she had been at 16 and 23.
She went back to her normal routine. Accountant by day, painter by night. Her agent called a few weeks after the showing, letting her know Ms. French had made an offer of a hundred grand for her painting. It was an amazing amount of money and she was tempted. But, she couldn’t do it. Not knowing that Lance saw the truth of her soul when he looked at it. She had painted blood. For her red roses were bloody wounds. No, she wouldn’t sell it to Ms. French.
The next day she arrived home to find a figure sitting on her porch swing gently rocking. Boots, jeans, long-sleeve button up shirt, and baseball cap pulled down over his face with dark glasses. She made sure the gun in her bag was within easy reach. Carefully she exited her car and approached the front door. She wasn’t going to open the garage door and give the figure access to her house. She could see his arms stretched out across the back of the bench, hands empty and relaxed.
She stepped on the porch across from him. “May I help you?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied. Reaching up he removed his sunglasses. She was speared by their icy depths, “I need a place to stay.”
She didn’t know how it happened, but Lance was staying in her guest room. Why was it she couldn’t tell him no? After all these years, it would be reasonable to turn away a man you barely knew. Something about him, made her want to take care of him.
Confrontation with French
“You all just want to use me.” Lance said bitterly
“I don’t know what kind of arrangement you had with Sylvia French, but don’t you lump me in with her. I’ve never asked anything from you.”
“No, you just gazed at me like a love sick cow.” he said viciously. “I had to stare out the window to get way from your begging.”
It was true, she hadn’t been able to hide her feelings, and she still wasn’t any good at it. It hurt to know how much he had despised her love. “So? You could have stopped accepting my ride any time you wanted. No one forced you into that car. I just enjoyed your company; I never wanted anything from you.”
“No?” he asked getting up from the couch.
She backed up as he stalked around the furniture. She found herself backed into a wall. He put his hands on either side of her head trapping her in.
“You don’t want anything?” he asked in a low voice. His eyes stared at her lips. She couldn’t resist wetting them with her tongue.
His eyes raised to meet hers, a knowing smile curled his lips. As he leaned in closer, she pressed herself tight against the wall. Her breathing increased and her heart felt like it would beat out of her chest. She wanted to lean forward and meet him, but she knew it was all wrong. His eyes were cynical and hard, whatever was happening, it wasn’t good.
He held her gaze as his lips settled on hers. She didn’t move, not daring to blink. He watched her reaction as his lips moved expertly, coaxingly over hers. Beth held back her response, this wasn’t what she wanted.
To be loved, not used.
She shuddered when he ran his tongue over her lower lip, but she did not participate in the kiss.
When Lance finally pulled back his smile had a hint of humor in it. “Okay, you win this one Beth.” He kissed her gently on the forehead and went back to the couch.
Beth sat down while Lance served dinner. “Not that I’m complaining about the meals, but you know, you’re going to need a job of your own, if you are ever going to have a place of your own.”
“I don’t know anything,” he said bitterly, “what kind of job am I supposed to get? Flip burgers at McDonalds?” He sat down across from her and stabbed a fork full of food. He shoved it in his mouth and started eating. Beth sighed, and said grace over her food. Lance stopped chewing respectfully until she had finished.
“It isn’t much, but there is a vacancy at my office. They need a receptionist. Its answering phones, getting coffee for customers and some filing. I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle, if you are interested.”
He watched her for a few minutes, and then shrugged. “Sure, whatever.”
She decided to ignore his lack of enthusiasm. He needed to get out of the house and gain a little self worth. “Great, you can ride to work with me tomorrow and I’ll introduce you to my boss. I’m sure he can squeeze in an interview some time in the morning and I’ll bring you home at lunch.”
The boss loved him and he started the next day.
Lance was full of charisma when he wanted to be. The customers were swept away like everyone else who came near him.
Ironically, it was only with her that his bitterness showed. All the hurt and anger spewed forth. He couldn’t hide his true feelings from her.
Lance accompanied her home to face her over achieving family, at her grandmother’s funeral.
Beth was more than able to take care of herself financially. Unfortunately, the members her family were doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs. Being an accountant working for someone else’s company was considered down right shameful.
Everyone assumed they were dating and Lance only encouraged that assumption, staying close and placing his arm around her frequently. He fielded questions expertly and didn’t allow anyone to spend time criticizing her life choices.
It was one of the most pleasant visits with her family that she could remember. She was actually disappointed to return home.
“Beth,” he said.
She looked up from her book, “Yes?”
“Tell me about that day. What happened?”
Beth went still. They had deliberately avoided this. She didn’t want to relive it and she didn’t know how he would handle the truth. “Lance, I think you want to know. They died and there was a fire, isn’t that enough?”
He looked at her, pain and sorrow on his face. “No, I need to know what happened when I left the house that day.”
She nodded blinking back the tears. She stood and began pacing behind the couch. “I can’t remember clearly what your sister said to me. There was a lot about you and she was angry.”
“She was in love with me.” Lance stated flatly.
Beth stopped to stare at him. “You knew?”
He nodded. “After our father died, she had difficulty cooping. Mom became so depressed; she sank into her own world of pills and booze. Then she found out she was pregnant, but she couldn’t make it without the anti-depressants. So, when Brian was born, he had lots of problems. Crystal and I raised Brian, so it was like we were his parents. She liked to pretend we were married and Brian was our baby. I didn’t know how bad it really was until I brought a girl home before a date. Crystal went crazy and accused me of cheating on her. She called Lisa all kinds of names and she ran out of the house and never spoke to me again. I was really glad she didn’t go to our school.”
“Why?” Beth gripped the back of the couch tightly. “Why did you bring me there that day?”
Lance stared at the floor. “I don’t know. You put up with all my shit, listened to my rants, I kept trying to push you till you walked away like everyone else. But you wouldn’t go.” He shrugged his shoulders, “I wanted to see if you could handle it, to see if that would finally push you over the edge.”
“You were right, it was more than I could handle. She was angry and ranting, but mostly in control. When you left with Brian, she couldn’t take it and tried to kill herself. She tried to electrocute herself, so I knocked her free and electrocuted myself. Your grandmother woke me up. I was lying on the floor next to your mother.” Beth shuddered, “I remember thinking at that moment, it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. Then your grandmother explained how she was going to take Crystal and Brian in and send you to live on campus.” Beth’s pace increased. She ran her hands up and down her arms
“Crystal went crazy and stabbed her in the back. I don’t know what happened after that. I ran away. The next thing I remember is sitting in my car in the ditch across the street talking to 911. I watched the house burn. I should have tried to help your grandmother, but I was too afraid. I’m sorry.”
Lance grasped her shoulders, “its okay.” He gently turned her around and wrapped his arms around her. Beth buried her head in his chest and cried. “You did your best; there wasn’t anything more you could have done.” He continued to speak to her softly, rubbing her back until she calmed.
They sat together on the couch talking over that day, sharing their feelings and finally laying to rest the horrors of the past.
“May I stay?”
“Of course you can stay,” she said with a smile. “Stay forever.”
He looked at her solemnly. “Okay, I will.”
Her heart skipped a beat. Her lips trembled, “okay.”
She didn’t know she was crying until he gently wiped them away. “Okay.”