When I was 9 my older cousin (14) stayed with me and my family for a couple weeks. My cousin was a troublemaker and her parents had hoped that sending her to ours would keep her out of trouble for a little while.

One day while she was over I asked if we could go to one of our local forest areas and make a fire to roast marshmallows. When we got down there we made a little makeshift campfire out of newpaper and sticks all on top a rock. Eventually my curiosity got the better of me and I started chucking different things into the fire. Leaves, sticks, pinecones, anything I could find in the little area we were in. Then I wondered what a leaf on a tree would do if we set fire to it. My cousin got her lighter and lit a small leaf on a near by tree. I stared at the reaction in awe and my cousin set a group of leaves on fire. We laughed as we watched the fire slowly engulf the branch. Once the fire burnt itself out we carried on setting fire to bushes and branches and then we realised that the fire wasn’t dying out. In fact it spreading.

My cousin started to freak out as she realised the fire wasn’t stopping. The summer heatwave had made everything so dry that it was catching fire extreamly quickly. She grabbed my hand and we ran to the dirt road that was on the outskirts to the forest. But instead of calling 999 we just stood there. Watching it as it spread and spread and spread. My cousin almost called them multiple times but I kept telling her I didn’t want to get into trouble so she never did. It had eventually spread so much that the fire department had trouble controlling it and had to order an evacuation of a nearby village. It was said to be the biggest fire the town had seen in 150 years. No one was hurt but it did take 10 hours to get under control.

It wouldn’t have been as bad if hadn’t stopped my cousin calling 999 when we first lost control. Both I and my cousin had promised not to tell a soul but 12 years on and my guilt is still here, I still feel terrible about it.

EDIT:

Ok I think now is a good time to do an edit for extra info that I think needs to be said.

Firstly, I am female.
Secondly, as a kid I was emotionally abused. My parents had a God at me for very small things like leaving a cup out instead of putting it in the sink. And I mean my mum use to call me useless and a worthless idiot at least three times a day. It wasn’t until my cousin came to visit that I was allowed to leave my house with out an adult (even though a lot of kids could play in the park and go out on bikes ect). My aunt thought my parents ‘strict’ nature would pull her into shape. I was always seen as a ‘good kid’ when in actuality I was just submissive and did as I was told.
Lastly, the reason I won’t tell the authorities the truth is that I have a very, let’s say comfortable, job. The sort of job that holds all its employees to a very high standard. I have my own place. I have holidays booked for the future. I have a wonderful boyfriend who I love dearly and is helping me lose my submissive programing. If I was let slip that I had been the cause of one of the biggest fires our town has ever seen then I’d loose, almost, everything.

I have been stressing and dealing with anxiety my whole life. I put it here in hopes that it would lift a portion of the guilt and anxiety I have harboured for 10+ years. Thank you to everyone who has said kind words to me I really appreciate it. Also thank you to everyone who has made jokes about it all. I have never laughed as much as I have today. Thank you.