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¬Dear Cassidy,


Since you are reading this, I must be dead or else you have found your way in to my security vault. An act of which I am sure you are quite capable but that is beside the point. I must apologize for commencing this letter in such a morbid fashion but for what it's worth I will attempt to make the rest very heartfelt, so bear with me.


I have a confession to make. On this day seventeen years ago, a nervous sixteen year old boy broke in to the nursery room of St. Agnes Memorial hospital. He proceeded to kidnap his new born daughter. By the way, happy birthday. Quite a jaw dropper isn't it? I've always wanted to share the unusual circumstances of your birth with you but I never knew how to go about it. After much deliberation I decided to write it out.


Now I know that theft is something I do not condone but I assure you that the circumstances left me with no other choice. I can confidently say that the ends truly did justify the means. Before I can actually indulge you in Mission Impossible: Baby Edition I should rewind let's say... nine months.


Shelby Lamoure and I were quite the couple, a real head turner if I do say so myself. In the cliché social structure that many high schools conform to, it wasn't every day that you saw the scrawny quiet kid walking down the hall hand in hand with the most recent state pageant winner. Even my foster parents thought I bought her off, but then again they never did give me the benefit of the doubt. I became somewhat of a celebrity to all skinny schoolboys that attended Piedmont High. I didn't pay too much attention to my new found fame though because well, I was in love!


One night after a couple of milkshakes at the local diner I walked Shelby home. It was a routine I had mastered and after the first couple of times I could now get all the way to her doorstep before my nerves settled in. This is where we would… oh you get the picture. This particular time things didn't go as I had expected. Biting on her bottom lip she looked at me anxiously. Her next three words were the most effective in causing a rift in the relationship between a male and his nether regions.


"I'm pregnant", she whispered. It was barely audible but the funny thing about such statements is that they can almost always be heard. Later on, she would claim that I looked horror stricken but to this day, while I am nothing but bones in my grave, I will maintain that I was perfectly calm. Shelby began to sob; I regret to inform you that these tears were not exactly of joy. Dating the most popular girl in school did not rid me of my awkwardness so I stood there stiffly patting her back as her tears drenched my favorite Van Halen t-shirt.


Her worries were pretty standard. What would her parents say? What would the Neanderthals at school think? Would she ever get her figure back?


I, being the simple minded teenage boy that I was, proclaimed that our love would help us through anything. We decided to sleep on it, in our respective beds, and discuss matters the next day. That night I walked to my foster home with a spring in my step and an excitement that would later puzzle nosy inquirers. Sleep evaded me; I was thrilled at the prospect of having a baby. A weird view for an orphaned 16 year old, I know. What can I say Cassidy? I loved you from the start.


The next day I all but charged around the school in search of Shelby. She never came, Cassidy. Morning sickness, that's the excuse I placated my nerves with. After school I rode the bus to her house. Mrs. Miller opened the door, her pleasant smile dropping when she saw who her visitor was. Shelby appeared at the door before her mother could say whatever she was about to.


Her smile was wide and I released a breath I wasn't aware I was holding. Millions of thoughts about our future with you were running through my mind. "I'm giving it up," she whispered. Her smile suddenly seemed deranged. Abortion? My heart had never stopped so suddenly before. I must have blanched because suddenly she was holding me in a tight embrace while reassuring my troubled soul that you would be put up for adoption. Oh. A strange sort of sorrow enveloped my body. I felt like the butt of a cruel joke. Why would something so precious be dangled in front of me and then snatched away? Your father is quite dramatic isn't he?


Anyway, Shelby didn't return to school that year, her parents felt it was wiser to teach her in the safety of their own home. That was the official statement Ms. Hamilton, my counselor, gave me on behalf of the family. Her parents also forbade her from seeing me but we managed to have a few secret meet ups; each of them leaving me more depressed than the one before.


You see she had no intention of keeping you and I couldn't bear the thought of losing you. With the help of a few kind souls, I devised a plan...


On that fateful night Kelly, Shelby's neighbor, called to inform me that your mother was in labor. I rode my laughable excuse for a bike to the hospital. Nervously sneaking past the front desk, I was convinced that they could hear my rapidly beating heart.


I considered going to see Shelby but I decided to just head straight to the nursery. To this day I can still vividly remember searching for you in that sea of new born babies. It didn't take me too long. Cassidy, I could see the me in you, you had my eyes. (The ID tag helped too.) All of the other newborns were fast asleep but no, not my girl. You were studying me with that same expression of confusion that you use today. I was utterly paralyzed under your gaze. Mesmerized was I.


Holding you for the first time was an experience that I'll never forget. Your newborn scent clung to my nostril hairs. You were innocent, you were pure, and you were mine.


One benefit of living in a ridiculously small town circa 1980 was their lax hospital security. Holding you snugly in my oversize leather jacket I crept out of the hospital as inconspicuously as possible. Ms. Hamilton already had our getaway car ready and we were off.


Cassidy, the last thing I want is to hurt you but you're a strong girl, nay- you're a strong woman and I refuse to give you the sugarcoated version. Your mother was not a terrible person she was just not prepared for a baby. Attached to this letter is her phone number and address. What you do with this information is completely up to you.


While many will beg to differ, kidnapping you is the best thing that I had ever done. Raising you was an honor. Watching you take your first steps, sending you off to your first day of school and reading The Outsiders over and over again, are all memories that I will cherish. Sure at times things were difficult but hey that's life. Speaking of which, we both know that my days are numbered, at the ripe age of thirty-three I seemed to have expired. But before cancer whisks me away I want you to promise me one thing. Cassidy Chambers don't you dare forget to stay golden.

Love,

Pops

Ps. It’s no coincidence that Nana's last name is Hamilton.



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