Ben leaves the front door and returns to the table with another envelope. This one is a pale pearl gold with a paper snowflake affixed to the flap. He puts it on the table in front of me and I don't need to see my name neatly printed on the front in Caleb's handwriting to know that it's from him. The color is new, however and so I raise my eyes from the envelope to meet Ben's face.
He nods. Ben just looks tired. Tired but beginning to relax and beginning to run out of patience and I'm not allowed out of his reach for the rest of my life, he says. I only wish he were serious.
I open it. Inside is a cheque for seven hundred and fifty dollars with a note on the memo line that says 'bonus'. A post-it note attached says 'Is this better?'
I stifle a laugh. The formality of this, what I asked for instead of the unwelcome entire legacy of our blended, dysfunctional family makes me feel vaguely silly. But the fact that Caleb wrote it out and had it delivered anyway after I asked for a fair amount based on the work I did for the company means I must be doing something right.
Small victories. Even as he surgically removes the rest of my dignity with his patented incision-free technique.