The house didn't loom, it sat. Watching her with a million panes, not even close to a million windows. Each one blocked off from the inside by boards of cheap wood. The house was damaged, but by no means more damaged than her. Only a small twisted, rusted fence stood between her and the swell of memories. As she opened the gate, more like pushed it half over so she could squeeze through, a gust of wind blew papery leaves around her ankles. Part of her dolly white dress caught on the fence, she tugged, it ripped, it didn't matter in the least. Dragging a duffle bag she made her way up the slanted porch steps and to the door. On the other side of that door her initials and his were carved into the wood. Enveloped in a jagged heart. Her body tensed when she thought of that pocket knife. The one that had carved those letters, the one that he had held at her throat. She had come here for a reason, not to shudder at unhappy memories and so she pushed the door open and entered the dense dust laden room. No one had stepped foot in here in so very long, and it used to be such a popular hang out. Off in the corners she could see abandoned cigarette butts and scattered beer bottles. Remnants of a childhood where memory was a passing fad. She set the duffle bag down into the dust and looked across the space. There were only small shafts of light coming down through the cracks in the plywood boards that covered the windows, cracks in the ceiling and the roofing and even in the walls, the cracks caused by an old house shifting on its haunches. Even in the dimness she could see the room that she had spent so much time in.
She remembered the first time that they had broken into this old place. They used to hang out in the graveyard on the opposite side of town, far enough away that they wouldn't risk being seen, but close enough to not be lost. Her uncle used to buy them cigarettes and they'd sit and smoke ghosts against a setting of the ultimate teen angst. As they'd leave the mud would suck at their shoes creating lullabies for swamp creatures, and messes for paper towels and splashes of water. On the way home, she and he had passed the house, which had been old even then, they still smelled of cigarette smoke when he suggested that they look inside. Having left the other children somewhere along the road, they alone climbed through the one broken window. At that time there had been no boards on the windows, cause there had been no need. They had climbed the whispy tree and he had grabbed her by the wrists and pulled her up into the second story room with him. They had looked around the room in awe, a place to go in the rain, just a place to go. They had made their way down the shaky staircase and when it lurched she fell into him and looked up into his eyes. He'd wiped her hair from her face and kissed her slowly. Call it a first kiss, call it what you will.
After that there were no more smokes in the graveyard. Some kid, whose name would forever escape her, got a couple grams from the city and together in what had probably been the living room of the house a group of them rolled their, well her, first joint. He'd held it for her between his thumb and forefinger and had watched with a foul delight as her lips descended to the end. He wasn't thinking about smoking his mind was on more deviant behaviors. And then someone brought out the vodka and the alcoholic games began. When they were all good and drunk and high and those who couldn't hold a drink had begun throwing up in the dark private corners of the house he leaned into her, breath smelling of sweet smoke and sharp vodka and lulled his tongue out begging for a soft kiss. And she gave it to him. Call it drunken stupidity, call it what you will. She kissed him passionately, smoke and warmth clouding the dark void in her mind. Fill it up with alcohol and love, it whined and she was quick to comply.
They'd lounged around passing a bottle of whiskey back and forth between two couples. He'd taken out his pocket knife, a relic of war days from the army surplus store, and leaned over into the wall carving their initials into the fraying wallpaper and rotting wood. He smiled at her; she smiled back and then sipped slowly at the whiskey. They'd always laughed a little at the foolish lovers with their thoughts on romance and love but in one motion he made an attempt at proving that he was the type of boyfriend that wouldn't only provide whiskey, but also fresh flowers.
Onetime as they sat smoking cigarettes on the dusky counter of the house's kitchen he held his lighter out to her, smiling softly. He said it was for her as a way to remember him, and the momment. She had loved how it had an elegant, or what she saw as elegant, tattoo artist rendition of a dragon curling up its metal body. She had smiled appreciative and pocketed it. She used it constantly to light countless cigarettes and offered it up to help her friends light theirs.
He met her after school outside the chain link fence one hand reaching into his satchel to show the corner of a brown paper bag. She had smiled knowingly fighting the clench in her stomach at the memories of many mornings when her head felt like it was split from forehead to the nape of her neck. Or maybe it was more like she'd feel better if it really was split. He'd led her to the house and the two of them had lounged alone on the floor of the first floor. He'd told her he had something to show her and had lead her up the stairs that creaked indiscriminately up into the attic room with it's windows at floor level. He had leaned in, his lips gracing her full red blossom of a mouth just the slightest touch, she kissed him, she was used to this. His tongue rolling it's slow pursuit of pleasure into her mouth his lips creating a loving yet violent press on her face. And suddenly his hands were at her wrists and he had her against the wall his kiss deepening immensely. His lips traveling down her throat his hand into the rim of her tight jeans gracing the outline of her panties. She gasped, a breath of shock. And he whispered nothing in her ears, only bit the lobe with a violence she had never seen before. Then he was pressing his pelvis into her and she could feel him hardening as she tried to pull away. Tried to fight it. He asked her if she loved him, she whimpered a 'yes' followed by 'but'. He didn't stick around to hear what she said next he pressed his lips into hers hard enough that all thoughts of saying no passed slow, more like just faded. And then his hips were thrusting against her and she didn't know what to think and so her eyes fell in the direction of some far off wall because it was all she could do to keep from looking at him as he pulled her shirt away and unclipped her bra, as his kisses slowly trailed down her throat and then suddenly he was pulling his pants off lowering her to the floor, laying on top of her. And he let go of her wrists to pull her pants down to her ankles, in the moment he let go she was clawing at his face but then he pinned her again. This is such a weird feeling she thought, not being in control, she wanted to put it in words but he was on top of her thrusting violently and she felt pain. He didn't seem to notice what she felt but instead pressed harder into her grazing her neck with his teeth, pinning her wrists with violent betraying hands. Somewhere in this so called love making she whispered 'no' in a voice somewhere between a gravely growl and an breathless orgasm and when she did this she felt a thin cold blade press to her throat, his blade the same one that had confessed his love. And she didn't say 'no' anymore she just let him do what he wanted to her, let him come inside her. Let herself bleed into the wood. And then it was over and he was looking down at her smiling slightly breathing heavily and she was just looking off, out the window. She didn't know what she was seeing, maybe memories, maybe nightmares, who the hell knows what reality is anyway. He finished and then looked down at her and said 'That was real good baby, let's do it again sometime.' and he was gone from the room and the blade wasn't on her throat. Call it rape, call it what you will. She got up, went home, showered and curled up in her bed under the thin cover, closed her eyes and felt tears seeping down her cheeks.
The next time she sat in that house she could hardly meet anyone's eyes, or even look at the walls of the house. He slipped his arm around her shoulders and she shuddered at his touch, he couldn't care any less. When they passed around some vodka hidden in a Sprite bottle she drank as much as she could get away with before he snatched the bottle from her, taking his own sip out of it and then passing it on. She just looked at him eyes burning with anger, but unable to fight back. When his family moved away, some small part of her felt relief even though she cried and told him she loved him and wanted him to stay. Call it a break up, call it what you will. She never heard from him again. When his family's station wagon pulled away from the curb packed with all their stuff he didn't even manage to look back, to give her any sort of comfort. No phone call, as he had hurriedly promised nothing. He was gone and she was trash.
After he left she had no reason to hang out with that group anymore, she never went back to the house. Well she did, once, to get some stuff she had left their but hurried out just as her old acquaintances were leaving. Now she stood in the rooms that she had been so accustomed to. She went over to the duffle bag and unzipped it pulling out a large jug. She walked from room to room splashing clear wet liquid on everything. Floorboards, rags of drapes, the steps, she ran out and dropped the canister down picking the second one out of the bag and made her way up the now damp steps and into the second floor room. She poured the liquid on everything in that room, felt the tears trailing down her face all over again. Remembered everything. What she had thought was so wonderful, how could it turn so horrible? The liquid splashed everything turning it damp and then she held what was left of the gasoline over her head and poured it down her body in a wet shower of noxious clear liquid. It poured over her smearing her makeup as much as her tears had, drenching her hair and cloths. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the lighter, still emblazoned with the curling, twisting, conniving dragon. She held it up and sparked it. And as she was consumed in the fire all she could think was, 'I'd burn alive for you'.