I sat in the lawyers office and cried this morning. I cried for myself and for Jake, but at the same time he loved Henry like he was his son anyway so it's not so bad. We were lucky. I cried for Henry and I cried for the past and for the future too. Ben and Lochlan each had one of my hands and they sat and watched me and wouldn't you know it I couldn't even wipe my nose because I wouldn't let go.
The assistants ran back and forth trying to make things better. Two boxes of tissues. Coffee. Tea? Scotch? Xanax if I didn't tell anyone, from a purse stashed in a private office. A suggestion that maybe we keep this to separate offices, that it won't take long. It's just some paperwork amending guardianship and nothing more. We did everything else already. Caleb left the trust. He'll leave his will unchanged. He leaves everything in place. This should be easy. I rolled my eyes at that. I shook my head and so we moved forward uncomfortably, ten people around a conference table trying to look anywhere but directly at me. Like Medusa, except if we lock eyes you will turn into a river and I will drown.
Henry had a shift while we were away. He missed spending time with Caleb. Ice-cold cans of root beer and Red Bull TV. Fishing for nothing off the dock. Sitting in the kitchen working out essay points and other homework while they cooked dinner for Ruth on Caleb's nights. Tracking global sailing races and the twice-daily messaging marathons where Caleb would check in with Henry and they'd exchange funny little things.
We came back in the midst of this and somewhere over Detroit or Wyoming I realized I'm going to put Henry first. Still. Always. I will coexist with the Devil until the end of time if that's what Henry needs. If Caleb can make things up to me through making sure this kid feels safe, secure and loved growing up then everything else can disappear.
Caleb is now insisting that he made an executive decision to give
Henry a living father and that I knew all about it. That he had the
original papers all along and that I agreed to have him raise Henry as
his own to make things easier on me, that my denial now is simply part
of a continued long con, an attempt to take all of his money, the whole
thing masterminded by Loch who has always resented Caleb for his
successes. That any and all accusations I have against him I was coached
to create and maintain. That we are carnival people and that's what carnival people do. We take your money and provide you with questionable entertainment. That he did it to protect me too.
He says the settlement he has
paid out in installments consisting of deposits, real estate and
maintenance payments are not an admission of guilt for what he did to me
as a child but instead a 'good faith effort to see that his former
sister-in-law has a comfortable life, as life with his brother was
understandably difficult.' That everything he has done speaks to that
Caleb also talked to Henry early this week about how Caleb and I get along and how awful
Caleb has been to me. Caleb apologized to him and said he would try so
(He didn't actually tell him anything
Henry would have needed to know to make an informed decision but there's
a huge effort here to protect the children from our monsters.
Even as we carry them with us.)
He's a lawyer. I'm a carny. This is the story of my life.
have no intentions of taking him to court. I just wanted the Devil to
leave me alone. The settlements, the house, everything was his idea as a
way to make his monstrosities up to me. I asked for none of it.
The judge knows this. The lawyers too. I'm not trying to con him, and neither
is Lochlan. I don't even want him to go away, I just
want him to be here as a friend. I want him to stay and be a friend without
the frightening pressure. I want him to make amends. I want him to cover the cost of what he did and in return he can keep my soul. I don't miss it. It has no value to me.
But he won't ever have my son.
Lochlan takes guardianship of Henry now. Caleb can play Dad all he likes, but he'll be leaving this world with nothing, and that's everything he deserves.