The story is about the eccentric Emily Grierson, a reclusive woman in a Southern town who kept an extraordinary secret. She never married. She never had any suitors. Her father drove them away with a horsewhip. When he died, she seemed to be in denial. She refused to even let people in for several days.
After Emily’s father died, things got stranger. Emily had a suitor, Homer, but he suddenly stopped coming around. Emily was never seen outside the house. One day there was a terrible smell. The people could not even get Emily to open the door, and it was rude to suggest to a lady that her house smelled, so they broke in and sprinkled lime.
Emily refused to pay taxes, saying that her father had loaned money to the town. She would take no for an answer. The townspeople had nothing on Emily. They couldn't get her to pay taxes, and they couldn't get her to come out of her house.
When Emily finally dies, the townspeople get to see the inside of her house at last. It is a shock. They find Homer’s body in bed, in “the attitude of an embrace.” It is clear she has been lying beside him.
What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become inextricable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of the patient and biding dust.
Of course, there would be much speculation about exactly what happened to Homer. How did he end up dead in bed next to Emily? It is not too much of a stretch to assume that she killed him. Emily lived a sad and lonely life. Her father smothered her and drove everyone away from her, and she could not stand the thought of Homer leaving too.