From the day I first met Tina we were close friends. She was a good influence in my life and held evil at bay for a long time. Tina wasn't pretty, but she was gentle and kind, which made her very beautiful. She had green eyes which sparkled, but occasionally I caught her looking at me sadly. I never asked why because I feared the answer.
I was an only child and my parents were old before I was born. We lived in my grandmother's house which had been in my father's family for three centuries. Most of the house was closed off and the few rooms we lived in were cold and damp, and smelled mouldy. There were fires in every room, but they could not get rid of the gloom.
The three adults didn't seem to know what to do with a child, so they treated me like just another grown up. They were rarely affectionate towards me or each other, and would shake me by the hand when saying goodnight, as if I was almost a stranger.
I waited patiently for seven o'clock every evening, when I was sent to my bed. In my own room I was free from adult eyes, to be whoever I wanted, and to do whatever I wanted, if only in my imagination. I stayed awake in the dark so no-one would know I wasn't asleep, until I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.
Mostly, I imagined my grandmother and my parents were dead, and I went to live with Tina's family. She had lots of brothers and sisters and they were happy.
That's why I burned the house down when I was five years old.