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Mystery of my dead brother’s son

The first message came via MySpace: “Are you the sister of Nathan? CALL ME.”

Every instinct told me not to call, but I called, of course, despite fears it might be related to a drug deal gone wrong. Vengeful dealers didn't use MySpace, did they? Her name wasn’t Sunshine, but that’s what I’ll call her; she’d been my brother’s girlfriend. Maybe I should have suspected, but her announcement, when it came, was almost too ordinary. Her voice was raspy and pleased.

“I had a baby in May, a little boy.” She spoke slowly, as if to a dimwitted child. “And I think he’s your brother’s.”

I was dazzled, and just as abruptly, I felt sick. The Houston sun burrowed through the window as I clutched the phone and stared at Sunshine’s MySpace profile. Her picture offered a defiant stare, heavily lined eyes and too much foundation. It was a self-portrait taken at arm’s length, her finger a blurry white blob in the corner. Her spelling was alarmingly bad. “Life happends,” the page proclaimed. She reminded me of the girls in my high school I’d avoided, fearing I was one honors class away from their fate.

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