I watched the flames engulf the pier whole, the heat hitting me like a solid wall. For a split second, I could do nothing. My muscles refused to work, my mind was in awe. Was this really happening? Was I dreaming this? We had just set the pier on fire. A loud cry from one of Tyler's friends brought me back to reality and I jolted backwards, unsure of what to do. Some people were rushing around, trying to put it out in any way possible. But the flames were just too big.
A small part of my mind acknowledged Nate taking off on his bike. Apparently, others thought this was a good idea as they followed his actions. Pretty soon it was me, Tyler and a few of his friends left standing. Jane had run off looking terrified.
'Shit,' Tyler cursed. He tried to grab my arm and pull me away but I threw his hand off. 'Hannah come on!'
I ignored him and ran like my life depended on it. His shouts, the heat from the pier and the events of the night still lingered with me long after I had arrived home. Without thinking about what had just gone on, I changed into my pyjamas almost mechanically and slipped into bed, forcing my eyes to shut.
What had we done? What had we done? What had we -
* * * *
'Hannah sweetheart?' my dad's voice came from the other side of my bedroom door. Light streamed in through my open curtains and the clothes I had worn the day before lay in a crumpled mess on the floor. I sat up , smoothing hair away from my eyes.
'Can I come in?'
I could tell he knew as soon as he entered the room. His eyes were serious, the familiar worry lines creasing his forehead. He sat on the side of my bed and took a deep breath. 'Hannah, where were you last night?'
'Chilling on the beach with some friends, why?'
'Did you see anything...threatening?'
'No,' I replied, perplexed. 'What happened?'
'The pier. It's completely damaged. The police suspect arson. They need to know if there's any witnesses.'
It took a great deal to keep my composure. I widened my eyes, keeping my voice smooth. 'Really? When was this?'
'They don't have a specific time. They have three tourists in custody at the minute but they think more people might have been involved. Nate's mother just rang me - he doesn't know anything about it either.'
'We didn't see anything dad, honestly. We left quite early.'
It was horrible lying to my father, but what choice did I have? He kissed my forehead, satisfied I was innocent before leaving. I calmly went about my usual morning routine; showered, dressed and breakfast. My phone had been ringing all morning from various people. Five missed calls from Jan, six from Tyler and none from Nate.
'I'm gonna go take a run now dad, I'll be back soon okay?' I plugged my iPod in before stepping out into the warmth. Of course I had only one destination in mind.
Ten minutes later and I was there. Surprisingly I was not alone. Jan was standing by the ice cream parlour; obviously having just finished her shift, one hand on her hip. She was frantically chewing her thumb. When she saw me, she almost collapsed. 'Hannah! Oh my god, did you hear what happened? They've taken them into custody!!'
'Yeah, now we're all in for it.' A new voice sounded from behind me and I whirled in surprise to see Tyler and three of his friends. Nate was stood further behind, his eyes fixed on the pier.
'Oh this doesn't look suspicious at all,' I muttered. Nate's eyes met mine and he turned to leave. I didn't stop him.
Jan did, however. 'Nate!'
Tyler's gaze followed her departing figure before turning back to face me with pursed lips.
'Save me from your shit Tyler, I don't want to hear it. Right now we should all decide on what we're going to do. The police are gonna want to interview us if the tourists snitch on us. We don't know if they are or not, but we should get our stories straight. I've already lied to my father, I guess I'm gonna have to get used to it.'
'Lied to my mother,' Nate reluctantly shrugged. 'What are we supposed to tell them? I'm not going to jail because of a stupid mistake this psycho made though.'
'If you had faced me like a man and not run off this wouldn't have happened,' Tyler retorted angrily.
'Enough!' Jan shouted. 'Put this silly childish behavior aside for one second and think. What's going to happen if our stories don't match up? I've seen CSI a thousand times - it's just like this.'
'We haven't committed a murder,' Nate scoffed.
'No, but it was arson,' Jan replied.
'I didn't set the pier on fire intentionally,' Tyler frowned. 'I'm not an arsonist.'
'Really?' Nate rose his eyebrows. 'Wouldn't have guessed it. And I'm not even being sarcastic. You've got the whole sociopath thing down to a T.'
'You're just asking for another fight,' Tyler laughed humorlessly. 'I'll give you a heads start if you want to run like a little girl again.'
'For Gods sake,' I muttered. 'Can't you two go five minutes without bickering? We have to get this sorted.'
'No, you know what? I'm out of here.' Nate grabbed his bike and headed off. Jan ran after him and I found myself grinding my teeth together.
'Looking a little jealous there Hannah,' Tyler smirked.
'You know what Tyler? I've known you for a good five years or so now haven't I? I've known that you were prone to trouble and I've accepted this about you. I've forgiven you for your stupid mistakes in the past and your snide remarks. I'm the only girl who has remained constant in your life.' He flinched. His friends looked uncomfortable. But I went on. 'I've listened to you, I've supported you, I've offered you advice when you've needed it the most. I would have still remained your friend even when Nate stopped talking to me, but you know what? You crossed the line yesterday. Telling that vicious lie is something I cannot overlook. I'm done here. Consider our friendship over.'
I turned and walked away, feeling very satisfied.