Death and the MaidenbyBrandie69©
Author's note: This is my Halloween contest entry. Many thanks to reader pg240 for an insightful pre-read.
I had always loved Halloween. It helped, of course, that it fell on my birthday. Who wouldn't love a holiday that was celebrated with chocolate?
Last year, Halloween was my 18th birthday. My friend Randy, and his older brother Jim, hosted a Halloween party at their parents' house. Jim was already in college. Randy and I, although both aged 18, were still seniors in high school, thanks to the fact that our birthdays were in the fall.
I had never really gotten to know Jim. In high school, being one grade apart was such a divide. But that night, at the party, Jim and I had somehow struck up a conversation that carried us far into the night.
We spent a great deal of the party talking together, off in a corner of the room, although I couldn't remember much of anything we had actually talked about. I just remember that he was smart, a little bit funny, and kind, and that talking to him for those few hours had made me feel really good.
Being 18 felt so empowering to me. My body was my own now. It was no longer a crime for a girl of my age to have sex with a grown man.
I had kept my virginity to the age of 18, although I have to admit that in the last months leading up to that milestone, it had not been entirely by choice. My natural desires, well, yes they had been growing quite urgently, but they had been answered only by the innocent explorations of my own slender hands. And I had learned to find pleasure that way, but I had also begun to dream that there was something more out there for me.
So it was that I looked around the party that night, and there was no one in my own age group that I would have wanted to give myself to.
But Jim was so totally different. I plotted all of the ways that I might get him to take me outside and get that whole first-time thing over with. But I was too shy, and he was as well, and the Halloween party wound down and we were still there in the living room talking about nothing.
He had to know I was interested in him, didn't he? And he liked me, I thought, from his smile, and from the cute way he always stopped breathing whenever our eyes met.
Other girls that I knew talked about the things they had done with boys, and I couldn't keep my mind from wandering, imagining myself doing them with Jim. We could slip out into the darkness, and stretch out on the grass in the night. I would unbuckle his belt, and unbutton his jeans, and he would let me take him out with my hand....
It was late when the party finally ended. I set out to walk home with my best friend, Cathy, who lived a few houses from me.
Jim asked us to wait, and he whispered something to Randy. The two of them went upstairs for a moment, and I wondered -- no, I hoped -- that just maybe they had gone to get condoms.
Oh, geez, girl, I said to myself, you really just met the guy, and already you're picturing the two of you sneaking off into the woods and doing the nasty.
When they came back downstairs, the brothers offered to walk Cathy and me home. I think we both said at the same time, "sure, that's nice of you."
We walked out of the house and into the stillness of the late Halloween night. The houses in the neighborhood had long had all of their lights off, as a sign to straggling trick-or-treaters that they were no longer welcome. It was dead silent, and a chill was settling in.
Cathy and Randy held hands as the four of us walked out into the night. I was pretty sure from their easy body language together that they were already "doing it." My reaction to that was not judgment, but envy.
As we walked, I wished so badly that Jim would have taken my hand, too, but he didn't. And for my part, the urge to reach out and touch him was so insistent that the whole thing was making me too nervous to even think of a conversation to start.
Damn it, Liz, I said to myself. You're going to die a virgin at this rate.
We headed towards the small park that we walked through to get over to my neighborhood. The entrance sat on a sharp bend in the road, at the bottom of a long and fairly steep hill.
As we walked on, and as the crescent moon slid out from a cloud, low on the western horizon, I could just begin to make out a man ahead of us, crouched down by the split-rail fence that marked the entrance to the park.
He was placing something next to a little wooden cross that I had probably noticed but never really paid attention to before. They were flowers, and if the moonlight wasn't deceiving me, they looked like red roses. That caught my eye.
The stranger stood slowly as we approached him, and it soon became uncomfortably plain that he was staring at me.
The more this strange older man watched me, the less I liked the way his gaze made me feel, even surrounded as I was by three of my friends. I grew suddenly cold.
I took a liberty then and wrapped Jim's arm in mine, thinking it would help if it looked to this man like the two of us were a couple.
Jim picked up on my cue. "Excuse me," he confronted the man. If I hadn't been so uncertain of the stranger's intentions, I would have smiled at Jim then. He bristled, defending me. "Do we know you?"
"It's ok, Jim, let's just keep going." All I wanted now was to get out of the darkness and behind the closed doors of my house.
The stranger put up his hands. "I'm sorry if I seemed to be rude. I'm Bill Westerling. This," and he gestured toward the wooden cross and the roses, "... my wife was killed here by a drunk driver," and he paused before adding, more quietly, "a year ago, today. I just came by...." His voice trailed off, and he thrust his hands in his pants pockets.
Then he looked up from the roses, right at me again and said, "I know this may sound strange, young lady, but, I have to tell you ... you are the very image of my wife."
What a terrible, heartbreaking thing, I thought. But he still had his eyes locked on me, and I wished he would stop it.
I said, "Come on, let's go, Jim," and with his arm still in mine I urged him away from the man.
"I'm sorry about your wife, Mr. Westerling," I said, "But we need to get home."
"No, wait," he said quickly, and we stopped again, and turned back towards him. "Look, if you find yourself in my neighborhood, stop by and I'll show you a picture. Then you'll see." He looked at me one more time, and added, "I'm just on the other side of the park," and he pointed. "Fourth house on the left."
"Well, good night then," Jim said firmly, and the four of us left the stranger and resumed our path into the park.
As we left the man there behind us, Jim made no move to take his arm back from my grasp. Eventually, our strides lengthening, I loosened my grip on him, finally just taking his hand.
Nice work, Liz! I thought, with Jim's warm hand touching mine, you managed to get this far. Now what?
I looked at Jim and he looked at me, and we traded nervous smiles. I ran my other hand gently up the arm that I had trapped in mine.
We smiled at each other again and continued to walk.
We had to pass Westerling's house on our way to my neighborhood, and we hesitated for a heartbeat as we walked by the place.
As it had been in Randy's neighborhood, most of the houses here were utterly dark. The Westerling place was dark, too, except for one bare bulb that was burning on the front porch, weakly illuminating a bowl of candy. It was the kind some people left out like that when they weren't going to be home on Halloween night.
Apart from the porch, the rest of the house was dark and seemed completely closed up. There were blinds drawn in all of the windows, and no windows at all in the plain white front door.
It looked like there was still some candy left in the bowl on Westerling's stoop, and feeling more than a little lightheaded from having had Jim's hand to hold onto for so long, I said to my companions, "come on, let's go see."
Cathy protested, "No, don't Liz. That guy creeped me out. Did you see the way he was looking at you?"
"Don't be silly, Cat, I won't even go on the porch."
With me tugging him by the hand, Jim and I approached the darkened house, with Randy and Cathy hesitating a few steps behind. The walkway cut through grass that was badly unkempt. In one of the dark windows we could make out, as we crept closer, a badly faded "For Sale" sign. I pointed it out to Jim and said quietly, "That's just so sad."
At the edge of Westerling's porch, I picked out a little candy bar from the bowl, just at the moment that the dim light bulb above us flickered, and dimmed, and went dark.
I let out a gasp and clutched hard on Jim's arm when I realized the front door of the dark house had opened. Westerling was standing inside. He had a glass in his hand, and he stood there, still as a statue, looking at me.
As my heart pounded, several things swirled in my mind.
How did he get here before we did? He certainly hadn't passed us as we walked through the park.
And how had the front door opened that way without making a sound?
I peered in at Westerling. There was one small light somewhere behind him, deep in the house. All the rest was dark.
Slowly, he opened the glass storm door.
"I thought you would come," he said. "I've brought out some pictures. Come in." He took a swig from his glass.
I looked back at my friends on the sidewalk. Feeling, again, strangely emboldened, I wondered what could possibly happen. I turned back toward Randy and Cathy, and perhaps in that one instant I was hoping that one of them might talk some sense into me.
But when Jim and I turned to them, Catherine pushed Randy's hand away from her cute little butt, where it had been resting, and she announced, "you know, I do need to use the rest room, if you don't mind." She pulled Randy after her, up the walkway and toward the dark house.
We peered inside, and then stepped through the door. Westerling moved to turn on a single light in the spare little living room. On a coffee table near the middle of the room there sat a white photo album, as well as several envelopes with yellowing old photographs spilling out of them.
Westerling took another drink, emptying his glass.
He directed Cathy down the shadowy hallway to the bathroom, while Jim and I walked over and sat down on the couch. I picked up the little white book, and Randy knelt down in front of the coffee table and looked through some of the loose pictures.
The cover of the white book had words in gold lettering: "William and Elizabeth, October 31, 1993."
The words made me shiver. They were married on the day I was born.
I opened the cover of the album, to see the first picture. And for the second time in just moments here at this place, I let out a gasp.
I recognized the beautiful young bride in the ornate white dress, with the veil drawn back from her face. I recognized her, because ... it was me.
Well, of course, it wasn't me. But I was stricken to silence by the likeness.
Westerling spoke. "Can I get you all something to drink?" He looked straight at me. "Elizabeth?"
"No, thank you, and please call me 'Liz.'" Maybe the tone of my voice then was a little bit harsh, but the uneasy feeling I'd had at first encountering this man was beginning to creep back and darken my spirits.
"I'm sorry; of course," he replied. "Liz. Please excuse me a moment." With that, he disappeared somewhere down the dark hallway.
Jim and I continued to flip through the pages, until he came to a few loose photographs that weren't installed behind the album's plastic covers.
He closed the book quickly just as I blurted out, "oh my God!"
They were photos of me... well, of her, being attended to by her bridesmaids as she put on her dress. There were pictures that showed her bare breasts, and other pictures that showed her without panties, exposing the most private parts of Westerling's wife.
They were, shall we say, extremely revealing.
While the rest of me felt increasingly cold, my face grew instantly hot.
The likeness to me was so close that I wondered if someone had secretly photographed me. But I knew I had never worn that dress.
I was mortified that Jim had just seen precisely what my bare breasts looked like; just what my most intimate place would have looked like, shaved clean and adorned only by a white garter belt that held up white stockings. I was looking at my own curves, my own secrets, and so was he.
And so was Randy.
But that wasn't enough: there were more.
At almost the same instant that we had discovered the nude pictures of me -- God damn it, pictures of her, I reminded myself -- Randy gave out a little whistle. My mind reeling, I looked over to see what he was looking at. In one envelope, there were more nude pictures -- no, they were sex pictures -- and again they might as well have been pictures of me. My face, and my bare body, doing things I wouldn't even dream of attempting.
Pictures of me ... no, of her, on her knees, with Westerling naked behind her.
And ones with Westerling in her mouth.
I felt so horribly exposed there, in front of my friends. One hand went to my mouth while the other pushed the white book away from me, and it fell from my lap to the floor.
Westerling's angry voice startled me. I hadn't seen him return. "What do you think you're doing?" he demanded, and he rushed over and picked up the album, clutching it to his chest. He had a fresh drink in his hand.
By then, Cathy was back in the room and, as she settled in unsuspectingly next to Randy and spied what he was looking at, she snatched the pictures out of his hand. She looked at them, and then at me. "What the hell?"
I had to get out of there. My sheer embarrassment was suffocating me.
I could never face Jim or any of them ever again. They had seen my bare body exposed in ways I just couldn't endure. I didn't know what this man Westerling was trying to prove, but I slapped him hard on the face as I pushed past him and fled towards the door. My slap sent Westerling's drink spinning out of his hand, and I could smell whiskey as it crashed on the floor.
My hand, where it struck him, was burning as I raced outside and away. I gave no thought to where I was going, and when at last I ran out of breath, I found that I was back in the middle of the park.
The moon had finally set while we were inside at Westerling's, but in the deepening darkness I thought I could see a shape following me from the direction of his house.
I was cut off from my own route home, now, so I turned and quickly started walking the other way. If I could just get back to Randy and Jim's place, I thought, I would be safe for the night.
As I walked, I strained to hear footsteps behind me, and it seemed they matched me each time that I quickened my pace. Were they getting closer?
Something prevented me from taking the time to look back over my shoulder.
Instead, I decided to turn up into the trees, off of the paved path, thinking I could lose him that way. Having grown up not far from there, I knew those woods intimately, even in the deep darkness of the now-moonless night.
It was working; he was falling behind. But then the flaw in my plan reached up and struck me: a tree root. I fell hard, and my pursuer was on me before I could get up. He was breathing heavily, and he did not speak for a moment.
"Liz! Please. Stop and talk to me. Liz...."
Oh, Christ, it was just Jim.
I collapsed against him, wrapped my arms around him and squeezed him as hard as I could. His arms came around me, too, and soon he was stroking my back. It felt good, and we stayed there that way for a long while, until my shivering stopped.
I needed to break the long silence. Sitting up and touching his shoulder, I said, "Jim, I am just so embarrassed."
He took my hand and pressed it between his own. "It's OK. We all know those pictures weren't you. There's no way."
That was nice of him, but it wasn't enough. I waved a hand in dismissal.
"Oh, come on, Liz, you're definitely ...," he said, and he stopped, staring down intently at our joined hands. Then he drew a deep breath and looked right at me. "You're definitely prettier than her."
What a sweet thing to say. He was still looking me straight in the eye, and I leaned in toward him. We kissed, then. And kept on kissing, for a wonderful long while. Ah, first kisses, even out in the woods on a chilly, dark Halloween night.
My feelings were deeply conflicted. He and Randy had just seen pictures of what might as well have been my naked body. But despite the violation I felt from that, I had in my arms a boy that, earlier that night, I had been ready to give my most treasured gift to.
His hand moved down to the top of my pants. He was going to expose the same things he had just seen in those pictures. I gently placed my hand on top of his, and said, "wait?"
"Please, wait just a second." Oh, God, I wanted him to keep going, but at the same time I needed to talk to him about where this was headed.
"This isn't just because you saw those pictures, is it?" I asked.
"Oh Liz," he sighed. "I never really looked at those pictures." Our lips brushed together again. "Sure, I saw what they were, but...."
His hands stopped exploring me.
"Let's just go home," he said.
In the darkness and silence, with nothing but the trees and the sky watching us, I took his hand in mine and placed it back where it had been, at the top of my pants.
I wanted to do this so badly. I tried to put the images of those pictures out of my mind and just live in the moment. I focused on undressing Jim while he undressed me.
Soon enough, we were both naked together, blissfully ignoring the chill.
He explored my bare body eagerly with his hands, and my breasts with his mouth. Then he pressed against me, and the feel of his warm flesh and mine touching so intimately was intoxicating beyond any of my little-girl fantasies. And, of course, I felt the greatest of wonders of this young man's body, urgently hard and pressed against my bare lower belly.
Nothing but our two young naked bodies existed then. Not the trees, not the night, and not Westerling.
Knowing what little I did about the way of such things, I took Jim's penis in my hand and guided him to the right spot, helping him find my wetness before guiding him into me.
Some of my girlfriends had told me there was pain the first time, but others had said that never happened for them. I guess I was one of the lucky ones.
Our bodies came together then, and his hardness felt so good and so right being there. I thought to myself, with a smile, at least I won't die a virgin.
I could feel Jim's arousal growing more quickly than mine, and his movement against me became faster and harder, grinding my back roughly against the cold ground. I tried to relax, but the image of that creepy man, Westerling, drove itself into my head just as the penis inside me erupted. I couldn't get that picture of Westerling, leering and taking his pleasure in me, out of my mind.
I opened my eyes and saw Jim, but the moment was gone. I pushed him away from me and scrambled to gather my clothes.
Just then, I spotted a distant beam of yellowish-white light, moving around in the woods. We both saw it and, frozen there, watched for a moment, until it became clear it was gradually heading our way.
Someone was waving a flashlight around, and it nearly exposed us. I knew in an instant it had to be Westerling. Looking for me, his Elizabeth.
We scrambled to put on as much of our clothing as we could as the probing light came ever closer. Naturally, my panties were first, and my t-shirt was second, those two pieces covering my essentials.
Similarly, Jim managed to get on his jeans, and he reached for his shirt. But the flashlight, waving itself around methodically, and each moment closer and closer to us, was about to hit home.