Read Part 1 – Wallflower
Read Part 2 – Smoke
There was much debate and discussion about who actually started the fire, as I would read in the days and weeks that followed. Delia and Tiff had been partying in the garage with the two burnout guys they’d brought with them. As they went into the house, Delia told investigators she flicked a cigarette butt into the garage. They concluded that the cigarette butt had been lit, making contact with something on the garage floor – gasoline more than likely, causing the explosion. But there were others, wannabes looking for a few moments of celebrity, who believed that the fire was started deliberately. There were so many theories. Tommy did it because his family was broke and needed the insurance money. It was a stranger that wandered out of the woods, some weirdo who just liked watching things burn. It some weird initiation ceremony gone wrong. Only I knew the truth.
My lungs filling with smoke, I crawled from the bed to the far window, which was slightly open. I could hear them outside.
“What did you do?” Tommy was asking someone in a rough whisper. Someone, a girl, was crying, whimpering like a child. “What is wrong with you?!” Tommy persisted.
“I just wanted to burn her stuff,” Laura sniffled. I felt around on the floor, in the smoke-filled darkness, searching for the bag I brought with me, finding nothing.
“You are such a psycho.”
“I saw you go into her room!”
“It was nothing! She was passed out the whole time.”
“I love you! You’re supposed to be with ME. Not her.”
“So you took her bag, set it on fire, and threw it into the garage?! That makes total sense..”
“I didn’t want her to find it!”
“So, you threw it in there where there’s gasoline and tons of other crap and decided to blow us all up because you were mad at me…”
“Shut up!” Laura whispered loudly.
I heard more voices now, the others must have found them. Charles and Meredith were arguing, Delia and Tiff and the burnouts were slurring in the background, the jocks were yelling, their brash voices rising above the fray, Cat was crying.
“Where is Casey!” Cat was screaming over and over, her voice gaining urgency.
“Who cares?!” That was Meredith. “She should have gotten out like the rest of us…”
“You know she couldn’t have! She could still be up there! Passed out!”
“Do you see this house?! NO ONE is getting back in there! Do you want to die?!”
“Are you crazy! We can’t just leave her in there…to…to…”
“Do you want her to come out, Cat? Really? And figure out that you set her up?”
I heard Cat’s tiny whimpers, but no more protests. She’d given up. I had no time to wallow and mourn our friendship, a shared world destroyed in a moment of cowardice. I had to get out of that room. I kept low, coughing, my chest exploding, feeling the rough carpet against the bare skin of my calves as I dragged myself across the floor. I reached up to open the bathroom door and quickly kicked it shut behind me. I stood with some effort and peeked out of the one window, which faced the opposite side of the house from where Tommy, Laura and the others were. The lights of the fire flashed red and golden from the opposite wing of the house. It wouldn’t be long before the very spot where I stood would be ashes. I pushed the window open and leaned outside, knowing what needed to be done. I stood on the ledge, then jumped into darkness.