Then I noticed something on the screen. While I’d been doing the crybaby thing, someone had sent me a private message. The name on it was Smith Jones, which was pretty obviously fake. As soon as I saw the name, I knew I shouldn’t read the message.
I read it anyway.
Welcome back, rapist. We’re going to find out where you went and make sure everyone there knows what you did. Stay tuned for further developments, unless you can’t handle the heat.
A chill shot right through me, and the breaths I’d been taking suddenly didn’t bring in any air at all. My hands shook.
I set the tablet on the table before I dropped it again and stood there staring at it.
Someone knew I was reading the posts on my wall. They would tell others. All the people who’d said that crap would know I’d read it, and they would keep posting.
According to my account, I still lived in Massachusetts. But that didn’t mean much. It was way too easy to track someone down online and find out their location, phone number, whatever someone wanted to know. Smith Jones wasn’t just blowing smoke. He, she, whatever would eventually learn that I was in Ludington, and they would tell everyone here about my past.
I almost answered the message to try to find out who was threatening me. But he or she almost definitely wouldn’t tell me who they really were. I’d done the same kind of thing to Guillermo months ago, when I tried to out him to pay him back for turning me in for beating up Evan. I’d sent him messages from the “Honesty Police” threatening to tell everyone he was gay. He might have guessed it was me, but I hadn’t told him.
If Smith Jones told me their identity, it would kill their whole purpose. They wanted me to be afraid.
Besides, answering them would give them what they wanted. They probably hoped I would start asking questions so they could yank me around. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. They could keep right on hiding behind their keyboard. Even though they’d be able to see that I’d read the message, I didn’t have to give them anything else.
Another message popped up, and this time my entire body went numb. It was the link to the sex offender registry.
So far you and I are the only ones who know I have this. But I’d be happy to share it on your wall.
I couldn’t control my hands to pick up the tablet or type anything. Not that replying would have made a difference. They wanted me to beg them to keep the link to themselves, but even if I did, there was no guarantee they wouldn’t spread it around anyway.
My brain kept spewing gibberish. Smith Jones would make sure everyone saw my name on the registry. I’d get more hate. More death threats. For all I knew, people would come to the trailer or the shop and drag me outside to beat the hell out of me.
“Everyone at home knows what I did.” I had to say it out loud. It was the only way to cut through the noise in my head. “It won’t matter if they see the link. They know anyway. And the only people who can see my wall are people at home.”
Except my profile wasn’t private. Anyone who knew my name could search me on Facebook and find my wall. Anyone, including Manny and his art club friends. Or Delia’s friends or customers. If Smith Jones posted that link publicly, everyone in Ludington might see it, and I would pay for it. Worse, they might do something to Delia for letting me work at the shop.
My vision grayed out. I couldn’t breathe. All this time I’d thought I would be safe nine hundred miles from home. Maybe I really was an idiot. After what I’d done, I wouldn’t be safe anywhere except dead.
Being dead sounded pretty good right then. I wouldn’t be afraid anymore. I wouldn’t have to spend every single day with the memories of what I’d done and what he had done to me. The times I’d sunk this low before, I’d convinced myself living with the memories was fair punishment for hurting Chastaine and Maryellen. But this time I wasn’t trying to escape the memories. I had to escape the people who could make sure everyone in the world found out the truth about me.
I stumbled into the bathroom. Delia had a bunch of prescriptions in the medicine cabinet. I didn’t know what she took them for, but it didn’t matter. Enough medicine of any kind would do the job.