The following Monday David and I were called to the base legal office to hear my dad’s final requests.  Before I even had time to take a seat, my dad’s lawyer, a stumpy, bald man handed me a linen envelope bearing a wax seal.  Then, I was immediately dismissed.  To my surprise, a few minutes after I was escorted from the conference room to the waiting room, Miles and Constance arrived.

I stood to greet them, trying my best to conjure a smile that didn’t ask the question, why the hell are you here? 

“Hey,” I said.

Constance closed the personal space for an embrace.  “We’ve missed you.  How are you holding up, Kat?”

I looked down at my feet, twisting my fingers.

“I’m fine.”

I wasn’t in the mood to relive all of the agonizing ways that I was not fine.  Miles looked at me in that way a person does when they pat a child on the head and say, aww…poor thing. He understood that we all knew I was far from fine, but silently agreed to move the conversation forward.

“Were here for your father’s reading,” he said, answering the question I was about to ask.

Other than some old mementos of the time Miles and my dad served together, I couldn’t imagine what he left them.  Their silent sideways glances to each other left me feeling more uneasy than I already did.

Miles and Constance were escorted to the conference room in the same, move-with-a-sense-of-urgency Marine Corps fashion with which I was ushered out.  I didn’t care much for the officious mentality this meeting carried; not that I expect much compassion from lawyers, Marine or otherwise.

I sat in the hard, plastic chair, listening to the clock’s second hand tick sluggishly by.  I kept the hypnotic rhythm by tapping my dad’s unread letter on my leg.  I was dying to read it, but not here.  I needed to be alone for that one.  I examined the crimson seal closer, noting the compass rose under his raised initials.  Though I had never seen my dad use a seal like this before, it didn’t surprise me.  He always did have a romantic side to him; another trait I failed to extract from the Wheeler gene pool.

My reverie was shattered by sudden, furious shouts and slamming doors.  The voice undoubtedly belonged to David.  I ran down the hall, initially the wrong one, only to see Mr. Hamlin coax him back into the room.  Mr. Hamlin gestured with a raised hand for me to stop where I was, that he had it under control.  Then, David started again.

“This is horse sh…” The rest was muted by another slamming door.  This is bad, I thought.

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