There it is! D-P-E. Written on the wood in black permanent marker.

The letters are inside a square frame, and it only takes me a second to realize the frame is where the wood has been cut out. I split to my nightstand and find a combo knife with a blunt blade on one end and come back. Quick-as-a-discarded-Christmas wrapper, I’ve inserted the blade tip and popped out the wooden wedge. My fingers shake bad, and it’s all I can do to reach into the exposed opening. Inside, I find a box.

This is it.

Whatever’s in this box is something Dad wants me to have.

My hands tremble, and I can barely get the lid off. Inside, there’s a note, a key, and Dad’s ring. I remember it now like it happened an hour ago. I used to sit in Dad’s lap and tug on that ring. I tried and tried to pull it off his long finger. I shine the phone-light closer. The ring has a flat surface on top. A raised braided line weaves back and forth around symbols on each side. Earth . . . Caterra. I turn it over in my hand. Below each symbol, there’s a set of weird-looking letters I can’t read.

Dad knew.


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