Chapter 19

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I couldn't understand why Hayley was acting so different now. And I was still puzzled as to why she looked so frightened almost when she walked out of the bush so early in the morning. I decided to ask her about it, maybe she saw something.

"Hayley?" I called to her who was walking in front of me, holding hands with Jake.

"Yeah?" She looked back and gave me a smile.

"You know this morning when you said you were looking for wood? Did you see something strange or something? You looked startled when I saw you." I asked, watching her facial expressions.

I saw the same fearful expression on her face for a second when she realised what I was talking about. But it quickly disappeared and she put on a smile.

"I told you already Tess. I was looking for wood and if I saw something I would have told you."

I still wasn't convinced, but I decided to accept it. She'll tell me when she needs to.

We kept walking in silence for a few minutes when something familiar caught me eye. It was about a ten metre by ten metre dirt patch. This was where Pete and I had played in the mud almost every day. We had gotten Pete's dad to help us dig it, where we could play for hours. We were told that the vegetation would never grow back there because we had ruined it so badly by playing in the mud so much.

We always went back into the house afterwards without cleaning up and Pete's mother would get so annoyed with us because the mud was smeared everywhere. After a few angry words from her we learnt to hose ourselves down before entering the house.

I lost the ring my mum gave me for my fifth birthday in there. She told me not to wear it until I'm resposible enough to look after it, but I insisted that I was responsible enough. Pete and I tried to find it after it slipped off of my finger, but it was like finding a needle in a hay stack. I wondered if it was still in there, buried somewhere.

Jake and Hayley saw me staring at the dirt patch and they knew we were near the house now.

"More memories?" Hayley asked interrupting my train of thought.

I thought she might have figured out that every time I zone out it is because of the many memories of this place. "Yeah." I replied.

I looked at the sun and it was near setting. We might just get to the house before sunset.

"We're nearly there. If I can just remember which direction the house is from here."  This patch of dirt used to be in the centre of a large clearing, but now there are trees and bush all around it. I figured that in a few years you would not be able to see the dirt patch.

I shut my eyes and remembered me and Pete walking to and from the house to here. "It should be this way." I said leading the way towards a huge tree which I remembered me and Pete attempted to climb once. Pete fell out of the tree and broke two bones in his arm. We had to rush to the hospital and get him operated on.

After that we had to go home as Pete could not do anything with his arm. Or he insisted that he could not; wanting to be served food and watch television all day. Typical Pete I laughed.

What irritated me back then are now the best memories of him. I could not imagine my life without Pete. I had to find him.

The more we walked the more familiar the surroundings became. I saw broken swings to my left and remembered how Pete and I used to try out all kinds of tricks on the swings, only to fall off and hurt ourselves. Those were the days.

The swings were now broken and left abandoned. I wanted to rebuild the swings, because looking at them right now; all broken and destroyed made me feel empty inside. Though they were just swings; they indicated that what used to be my most fond memories of Pete were now broken and destroyed, just like the swings.

I also saw a small grass clearing under huge green trees. Pete and I always had picnics there. We packed a basket full of muffins, sandwiches, drinks and lollies that we had enjoyed in the shade of the trees.

I smiled as a tear made its way down my cheek. I missed Pete. I wanted him to be there so that we could reminisce on out best memories of this place. But I had the feeling that after this is over, if it will ever be, that he would not want to talk about anything that had happened here.

I wiped the tear away and my mind filled with things I wanted to tell Pete. Like how scared I really was at this particular moment, how much I just wanted to scream out in frustration and give up. But I knew what Pete would have told me, the same words he has told me so many times before when I just wanted to give up. "I believe in you." These four words always gave me hope and made me realise that I am not alone. Pete always knew what to say.

"How far do we have left? It will soon be dark." Hayley asked me quietly. Her voice was filled with fear of what is going on.

"Not far now." I mumbled. I heard Jake something that sounded like "I've heard that before." I ignored his comment and focused on the way to the house.

For the first time of the entire time of being in the forest I could smell the semi-wet dirt and the smell of the wild flowers and vegetation around me. I could hear the birds chirping away in song and the sound of wind in my ears. If the circumstances were different I'd be enjoying nature at its best.

I felt sick for enjoying my surroundings. How could I be thinking about all the wonders of nature right now? Suddenly the sound of Megan's screams filled my head again. All my senses were shut down again and I could only focus on the hurt in her voice. The pain I had caused her. No. I could not stand hearing that again. I am going to save her even if it would cost me my life.

I remembered when Megan and I were younger we watched the movie Superman and we both wanted to spend our lives helping people. We dreamt of rescuing people in distress and we both devoted our lives to the other. That if the other is ever in need we would risk our own lives for them.

I laughed at the little promises that young girls always make to each other; usually sealed with a pinkie swear. This was different, however. If you tell someone you would give your life for them, they must mean a lot to you. And she does. But, of course, we never thought that we would ever be in that position. We thought that for saying we would is pretty much doing it. And now, the meaning of it is so much greater. I knew right there and then that if worse came to worst, I would give my life to save someone I care about so dearly.

I thought for a moment that my mind was playing tricks on me.

But it wasn't.

In front of me, I could make out the shape of an old, two storey lake house. Pete's lake house.

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