Hey You,

Don't know if you'll get this but maybe you will. Just don't want anyone thinking … well, what they're probably thinking already. Paula I swear I really didn't know. I still don't know if you believe me or not but there are enough people that don't that I'm not going to assume that you do. It wasn't a game. Of course I know that makes me too stupid for words but I really didn't know. I had no idea that it was Tad on the other end of those emails.

You and Aunt Trudy told me it was ridiculous to get so hot and bothered by some guy that I'd never met face-to-face. You said he didn't sound like he was my age from the words he used in our emails. You said if he'd really had all those experiences he was lying about his age. I didn't want to believe you. You told me I was too young to be able to tell whether some old guy was being a pervert and trying to lure me … well you know what your mom thought the guy on the other end of the emails was. I get that now. Boy do I get that now. Wish I would have listened then.

You saw the emails. Heck, you hacked my computer to find and get them. You have to know that I didn't know it was Tad. I know he told me afterwards it was just a joke but I would have never done that to you Paula. I know I was a pain and you thought I was just a kid but I never would have done anything like that to hurt you. I may have been a jerk but I was smart enough to know which side my bread was buttered on … even if I couldn't remember all those times you held me while I threw a hissy about how unfair life is. Life is full of suckage but I wouldn't make your life suck on purpose, not ever.

I'm still so freaked and ick'd out. I feel like a fool. I thought I'd found Prince Charming. Geez, what an ignoramus I was. I feel so bad. But that's no excuse. Wish I could make up for it but I don't think anything can fix it. But I do want to fix something that I didn't do and should have. I want to say thanks for being family enough that when I was too much of an idiot to take your good advice that you and Aunt Trudy tried to protect me anyway.

He can claim I knew what was going on but I didn't. I swear I didn't. Hope I die if I'm lying I swear. He told me that it was just a joke on you to make you jealous and to show everyone what a goober I was underneath the "goth queen and crazy hair" and stuff. He wanted to show me I was nothing but a little fool. Well, he did that for sure. But he couldn't have if I had known what he was doing to you. Maybe you caught that, I hope you did, but I guess it's just as likely that you didn't because of the things I heard you say to Aunt Trudy. I just hope one day you can forgive me for being such a brainless wonder.

And speaking of, I now know that running away from it all was just another dumb move in a long string of dumb moves. I don't know if my next move is stupid or not but it's obvious I can't stay here. I already got blessed out by Mrs. Hotchkiss – the geranium lady from three doors down – from breaking into the house. Let me tell you, from the look of her you wouldn't know she was that verbally creative. Relax, I didn't break in; I used the hidden key. Aunt Trudy totally should have moved that thing by now, anyone could have found it in the flower pot. I moved it someplace safer … your old hiding spot so you should be able to find it when you come back. I came back because I found out you and Aunt Trudy had decided to evacuate to Uncle Beryl's place. I mean that's cool and all and I don't blame you. Carol and Mace told me.

You might not be happy with what I did though; with why I came back after you left. I took all the frig and freezer food and a lot of the other stuff in the cabinets. I'll save the jars for Aunt Trudy but I didn't know what else to do. I spent all of my money renting a truck and I've already gotten all of my stuff out of the storage locker. I'm going to try and get out of town but since you know, they won't like let me go where other people are I'm going to have to try and make it someplace else and it will take me some time to get set up. I don't have any other choice. I got infected … but it turns out I'm an immune. But you know how everyone is … OMG, she got infected so now she needs to be kept away from the humanity for all time. Geez. Just to be on the safe side though I think I will stay away from the rest of humanity for a while, it seems safest of the few options I've got.

I don't think I am the only one doing this. I think the reason Mrs. Hotchkiss made such a fuss is that she thought she could send her sons over and take the food out of the house for her family. While I was home a van of cops stopped at their place and said that they either left on their own or they'd be arrested and taken out. Mr. Hotchkiss was really bent; let's just say she was showing her creative side again. The cops stopped here too but I acted all nice and stuff and said yes sir, no sir, that I was leaving sir just as soon as my daddy and big brothers got back, yes siree. They believed me and went on to the next house down the block that still had people living there. Guess they are really serious about that mandatory evacuation stuff.

What the cops don't know is about the galvanized trash can behind the shed. And don't you open it either. I used Liquid Nails to glue it shut and also put all that duct tape around it. Tommy Crane is in there. I guess you can tell his folks that he didn't run off with that girl like that thought. Maybe they won't be so mad or sad now. He was infected and was way beyond being helped by those drugs they are talking about on the radio.

Tommy was a sweet guy, maybe a goof but he was still sweet. Or at least he was until the plague got ahold of him. Good thing I'm immune I guess because he tried to attack me with a bat he picked up out of the Tindale's backyard. I think he'd been sleeping in the big jungle gym where the Tindale kids used to play fort and he heard me or something. Anyway he bit my shoulder blade and managed to break the skin even through my t-shirt. The t-shirt was black … naturally … so the cops didn't see the blood but it hurts like a son of a gun right now. It turned into a purple, pink, and blue rainbow mess even before I got a chance to take my shirt off and look.

I guess I'll have to go get Carol and Mace to help me clean it; just because I'm immune from the plague doesn't mean I can't get some other gross junk from a human bite. But maybe Carol and Mace won't help me. They are really still mad at me because of the whole situation. They don't believe that I didn't know it was Tad. I mean they don't think Tad and I were doing the nasty thank goodness – OMG I need brain bleach stat – but they do think I was playing some kind of joke that got out of hand. They blame Tad mostly but they blame me too and not much less. Just like everyone else they said I should have known better. Maybe I should have, but I didn't and I can't change that.

They have taken over that bed and breakfast that Mace's sister ran. I think with her dead Mace actually owns it so no one can throw them out. They are set up pretty good and hopefully will be able to hold out until they find some kind of cure for the plague.

I got a long way to go so I'll stop writing here before I make things worse by putting my foot in my mouth somehow. Just felt I owed you … and Aunt Trudy … some kind of letter to let you know that I was sorry, that I don't plan on ever being that stupid again, that I know it is way too late to change what happened but that if I could I would, and that I love you and know I never told you enough.

If you never see me or hear from me again, just let it go and figure I got what was coming to me. Stupid should hurt. Really stupid should really hurt. I'm finally beginning to realize how much of a jerk I've been. Maybe I would have outgrown it if there had been more time. I like to think I would have anyway. I also like to think I would have found some way to make it all up to you. But it doesn't look like that is going to happen so this letter is going to have to be the best I can't make it.

I learned stuff being on the street. Maybe it will be enough, maybe it won't. But at least I'm not going to sit around having a pity party like I did after Mom and Dad and Shauna died. I'm so over living like that … I sure don't want to die like that.

Your Cousin,


PS Tell Aunt Trudy I'm sorry. And that I appreciate all she tried to do for me. I should have been more grateful. She put up with a lot of crap from me she shouldn't have had to. I wish I'd told her that when I should have and could have. I of all people should know that you never know what you have 'til it's gone.