“He gave custody to them,” he shouted, pointing his finger at Miles and Constance.  It was as if he was willing the thing to shoot daggers out at them.  Composure took possession almost as quickly as his outburst had, his sigh releasing the tension from his shoulders.  “He gave you to the Hamlin’s.”

David’s arms went lifeless at his side, his anguished features softened, and all I could do is stare, open mouthed like a moron.  His eyes pled for my forgiveness.  They were a deep blue today-darker than usual.  Mine get dark too-when I cry.

With my gaping mouth, I managed to form a word.  “No,” I said shaking my head, denying the truth that was evident on every other face in the room.  “There must be some mistake.”  My dad would never separate us like that.  Someone screwed-up the paper work, and this is all just a colossal misunderstanding.

The lawyer slid a sheet of paper across the table to me.

“This is the original copy, signed by your father.”

I took it and closely examined my dad’s narrow, elegant scrawl, then, read its contents.

“…And to Miles and Constance Hamlin of Camden, Maine, I bequeath full legal and physical custody of my daughter, Katherine Mica Wheeler, until such time that she reaches the age of eighteen, or my son, David Charles Wheeler, fulfills his contractual obligation to the United States Marine Corps.”

The words were instantly seared in to my memory.  I looked up from the water-marked paper, and stared blankly at the lawyer for a moment.

It came to me what he reminded me of.  His huge ears came to a slight point at the top, cob nose, and protruding brow bone.  I imagined him with a tall bushel of neon-pink hair.  Treasure Troll, I decided-but not in a cute way.

Miles and Constance rose from their seats, breaking my daze.

“We’ll be in the next room,” Miles said.

The door closed quietly behind him, and suddenly I had no words.

David’s voice was a choked whisper as he dropped his head.  “I am so sorry, Kat.”

I sank further into my chair, surrendering to that last violent shove into hell.

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