Transcribed below are the contents found within a letter inside an unmarked envelope. I found it atop the nightstand at my bedside, leaning against the broken motel clock radio. The letter itself was written on plain computer paper in a messy half-cursive, half-print handwriting.
She dug in the shade of an elm tree where the dirt was still soft and moist and tried to keep her eyes off Starry. The queer thing was, nothing else touched the body. Flies avoided it, the ants and beetles marched around it, and the smell hadn't drawn any scalehound. The monster had touched it. You should never eat something a monster touches. Papa had never said this but she felt sure he would if he were with her. Perhaps that’s how you become a monster in the first place, she mused.
You're not supposed to be scared at nine-and-three-quarters, she knew. You had to be brave and strong and protect the little ones that get scared. Papa said so. Monsters weren’t real. Papa said that, too.
Beyond the field was the enemy’s land. I was almost there. And there was no going back. I could not return a failure to my family. I could not explain to them how I had allowed her to fall into their hands and not saved her. I had to do it. She was counting on me. I was all she had.