29. Lasting Emotional Damage

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"I'll be glad when those are gone," Wynter said, meaning the two cardboard boxes on the back seat of the truck.

Caleb was driving her to E Sharp on Saturday morning, and then he was going to deliver the boxes to Miriam's hotel.

He waited for her to ask if he'd snooped. Maybe it hadn't occurred to her that he would.

"Why only two?" she said. "There were three before."

"I'm keeping the artwork."

"Why would you want to keep anything of hers?"

He shrugged uncomfortably as he joined the on-ramp to the I-90. "I don't know, hun. I'm not the best judge of art, but some of it looks pretty cool. One day, if you or your brothers want to take a look..."

"Not me."

"Okay. But I want to keep a reminder that she was once a normal teenage girl."

More-or-less normal.

"What if she asks for it?"

"She doesn't know I have it. I guess she'll assume Harry threw it out at some point in the past."

"I wish he'd thrown all of it out. It's unfair you have to take it back."

"I'll dump it and run. I won't see her." He would make sure of that.

After dropping her off for work, Caleb drove north over Ballard Bridge to Shilshole Bay Marina. He wasn't quite as done with their mother as Wynter was.

He parked the truck and walked down the fairway to Harry's boat with just one item in his hand—a shoebox-sized metal cash box. He'd called ahead, and managed to rouse Harry long enough to explain he was on his way. Harry, of course, had fallen asleep again and took a good ten minutes to get himself up and invite Caleb in.

"You met with her, then?" Harry said. "I don't wanna hear about it."

"Then I won't talk about it." Caleb set the cash box on the table, and took a seat. "Recognize this?"

"Nope." Harry showed little interest, getting himself organized to make coffee. "Is that hers? Told you, I don't wanna know what's in those boxes."

In one of the boxes, Caleb had found paperwork from their early relationship—joint tax returns, leases, military papers, paraphernalia from the wedding, along with baby handprints of himself and the twins, their early scribblings, and locks from their first haircuts. The contents of the second box were more personal—pieces of cheap jewelry that presumably had sentimental value, some piano books and a few photos of teenage Miriam, and the cash box. The last box was her artwork and sculptures, much of it dated to her teen years, and that was the one Caleb had decided not to return. Until last night he knew nothing about that girl, before she met Harry, before she became his mother. Something compelled him to keep a reminder of her from before the Light.

"I want you to see this." Caleb opened the cash box to reveal a bundle of handwritten letters.

Harry chuckled. "What's that, then? Love letters from her high school crush?"

"Love letters, yes."

"You broke into her personal stuff?" He tut-tutted with mock reproval.

"I picked the lock. You taught me how, when I was fourteen, remember? Two paper clips." After the three boys had returned from the skateboard park to find themselves locked out of home for six hours because Harry had unexpectedly decided to spend the evening at the bar.

"Ah, so I did. Came in handy, huh?"

"A few times."

Harry stood at the stove, refusing to come closer as Caleb fanned the letters on the table.

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