"..and the remainder of the aforementioned personal effects to be left to the Wadsworth Foundation." The lawyer tapped his pen at the bottom of the sheet, having finished his spiel.

Benny sat motionless. He could feel, more than see, his siblings exchange glances over his head.

The lawyer got up, shook hands with his older brother Andrew, and left the room, briefcase in hand. Tess sat down gently next to Benny, laying a hand on his.

“Ben? Are you okay?”

He forced a tight smile onto his face. “Just a bit of a shock. Totally fine.”

He hated the pity and understanding he saw on her face. “We’ll split it all three-way, of course,” she looked round at Andrew, who nodded vehemently. “Never expected Mum and Dad to do… this. Its so out of character for them, isn’t it?”

“I don’t want the money. I don’t need it.” It was true; he had made a small fortune of his own already, and any money he received now would just be a reminder that his parents, in the end, didn’t think him worthy of it.

But why? Why didn’t they think him worthy?

“I bet they just never updated the will,” Andrew said, flopping down into an armchair beside them. “It’s probably from 20 years ago; before you came to live with us.”

Tess clapped her hands together. “That must be it. It’s just outdated.”

Benny shook his head, hating himself for the second of hope he’d held. “The lawyer said it was dated from this spring, remember?”

He couldn’t bear to watch their faces fall. Pushing to his feet, Benny strode to the window, staring blankly across the lawn. None of this made any sense. He had gotten along well with both of his parents; better, even, then either of his siblings. Had spent every holiday here in this mausoleum, had called often, had helped with minor house maintenance when he could. He’d been a doting, loving son, and it still hadn’t been enough.

Was it truly as simple as that he wasn’t their flesh and blood? Even after their endless reassurances that the adoption meant nothing, that they loved him as their own?

Finally proof, at last, that that was not the truth.

But something about even giving voice to that deepest fear, that obvious answer didn’t feel right. A memory floated in, drifting on a phantom breeze; his mother several weeks ago, kneeling in the soft upturned earth of her garden bed. A ridiculously flopped hat sat atop her brow. Benny knelt beside her, his own hands crusted with dirt from the hours they’d spent toiling side by side, prepping the earth for planting. She smiled warmly at him and said, “Whatever fabrics shape this world, you and I are cut from the same one.”

He closed his eyes, tears prickling behind his lids. His mother, at least, had loved him. What had gone so wrong?

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