This hasn't got long left to go and then it's finished! Probably eight or so chapters at the most, although that may stretch to ten. Bit of angst in this chapter.
You're back home a month after your release. Molly and James are upset that you're leaving but you're secretly relieved to be back somewhere where you can escape from people. You have a feeling Megan and Alia will be happy to escape Becker in a few days when they're back with you. As it is you have another two days on your own. You can navigate the stairs okay now so you take a chance and decide to clear out the wardrobe. You need the bathroom stool to be able to reach the shelves but you're soon neck-deep in old clothes.
There's the odd dress and several jumpers which don't suit you, no longer fit or you don't plan on wearing again. You're forced to throw out several jeans when you realise the back of them is nearly see through and there are some old formal heels in a box that you never plan to set eyes on again.
There a few files on the very top shelf that need to be removed and you struggle to reach them. You frown as your fingers hit a cardboard box on though. You cant see that far back so it has to be something of Becker's; you've never stored anything back there as you could never reach it before.. You use the tips of your fingers to pull it off the shelf, almost falling back off the stool with the sudden extra weight.
It isn't actually cardboard but wood. It looks like something from the carvings store across the city. You carry it to the bed and dump it on the mattress, sitting down next to it and opening the lid. You feel guilty about prying into Becker's stuff, but he hasn't asked for it back so it mustn't be important. The box, about two foot by one foot and one foot deep, has something across the top of it to prevent you from seeing the contents. On the red velvet cover is a folded piece of paper. You pick it up and can just make out Becker's handwriting through the paper. You flip it open and your heart stops.
My beautiful wife,
I have no doubt that you will find this soon and when you do, I will no longer be there. Why I am not there is unclear to me yet; maybe I've died or maybe you've finally kicked me out as I always knew you would. No matter the reason, I hope you and our daughters are safe.
Chances are, if you've kicked me out, which is what's probably happened, the contents of this box are going to take you by surprise. I nearly threw it out, but you deserve to know the truth. If you do look through the contents of this box, please look through it all and reserve your judgement until you have finished.
I started putting this box together when Alia was five so there's five years of stuff waiting for you.
I will always love you,
You fold the letter back up and set it to one side, more than a little confused. 'I will always love you'? What's that about? You and Becker haven't shown any signs of affection since Alia was conceived. You lift up the red tray and your jaw drops. Just by looking inside you know that Becker has put a lot of time into the box. Without touching or moving anything you can see a teething rattle, two dozen photos of your children, photos of the ARC team and of your childhood and Megan's old sleeping suit. You take a deep breath and reach for the first item; a bundle of clothes. You spread them out on the bed sheet and gape at them. You recognise each of them and could name the places they came from; a green blanket with 'Master Becker' and a red blanket with 'Mistress Becker' from Rob, baby boots from Vikki, a pink and white spotted jumpsuit that belonged to Alia, again from Rob. There's also a blue jumper with a dinosaur on the front which belonged to Ben. You fold them up neatly and set them to one side, organising them into piles. You reach back into the box and pull out a stack of photos. They're old and slightly faded. They're all pregnancy photos from 2011, before Megan and Ben were born. Back when you were happy and still in love. You flick through them, noticing that you're in everyone. There's photos from Abby and Connor's wedding, days out, in the ARC and at home. Becker's in some, but they're mostly you and the ARC team. There's even one of you and Lester. You pull out more photos next, ones of Megan and Ben. On the back of each photo is the name of the person in it and the date it was taken. You sort through the photos and organise them into dates, the oldest on the top. You refuse to look at anything else until you've sorted them out. Photos of Megan and Ben, then only Megan, Alia as a newborn, Alia and Megan, Becker and the girls, you and the girls, a family photo. You count over two hundred photos, each of them dated and titled. You set them to the side when your done and sort back through the box.
Becker's saved all of the 'important' clothing from when the children were younger. Various outfits that Megan wore to weddings or other important events and her favourite outfit which she used to scream blue murder when it was taken off. There are various baby boots for all three of them, each item causing you to choke up a little bit more. The tears don't start to flow until you reach into the box and blindly pull out the last item of clothing. You haven't been looking at the contents of the box until you pull it out. You wish you'd seen this coming; it's Ben's dinosaur suit.
The suit that he wanted to wear the day he was taken away from you. The suit he lived in for a month and made you promise to let him wear once it was washed. The one thing which makes you break down in tears.
You fold it carefully and tuck it under the rest of Ben's outfits. You glance into the box, not wanting any more surprises. The only thing left in it is your white wedding album. You have most of the photos memorised, but you pick it up and begin to slowly flick through the photos anyway. At the back you find a second letter. You aren't sure you want to read it but you open it anyway.
Love is words that cannot be written
Feelings that cannot be explained
Love is that moment when you cannot speak
because so much wants to be said
Love is when you cannot imagine your life any differently
Love is friendship that cannot be broken
Love is two souls wrapped in one
Love hurts so wonderfully you cannot let go
But I did let you go. I let you go because I couldn't cope with seeing you break a little more every day and know I had done nothing to stop what had happened. I shut myself off and brought up the walls which you broke down to keep myself from breaking. Had I known it would've caused you more pain I wouldn't have done it. By the time I realised it was too late. I had lost you and I couldn't get you back.
I am truly sorry for what I have done and the pain I have caused you.
I will love you forever, though you may not believe it and I may not show it.