Dear Cassandra,

When you receive this, I will be gone from this realm. I am sorry that I did not get to say goodbye. Partings are no such sweet sorrow and there was nothing more we could have said to each other. Your life was a master-craft and I treasure each moment I was able to spend with you. If I am to keep my memories, I will cherish our family as the bright part of a dim life.

I cannot bear another moment in this realm without your mother. I do not expect to see her where I am going, but living each day without her here is something I cannot do and I am willing to accept the consequences of taking my own life. It is not fair to you and your brother that you will have to bear the weight of my sins so I will try to make it as easy as possible on the two of you. You are innocents here; you have done nothing wrong. But I simply cannot, no, will not, continue on, without her.

I must stand and face judgment.

You and your brother are nearly grown now. You will want for nothing, your mother and I have seen to that. You have recently begun to care for your mother’s mother’s estate and I am so proud of you.

I especially want to free your brother from the clutches of paternal tyranny. A young boy needs freedom and I was unable to give that to him as things were. I want him to florish and grow. If I am gone, he will become someone different. He will become stronger. When I was a young boy, I wished every day for my father to disappear. I will give that to him. I will free him from the monster.

His life in my absence will be a new set of challenges but I am sure he will come out the better. I will not force you to take care of him. You have your own life, your own concerns. It is not a sister’s role to become her brother’s mother. No, I want him to get out of here and live his life anew. He is at the crest of a grand adventure.

I have established a trust of the family assets and set it to be managed by some close friends of mine. Unfortunately you have not met them yet but I am sure one day you will. They are unable to sell anything off or change the terms of the agreement without your express permission. In a few years it will fully come into your ownership but I wanted to ease you into the management and give you some time to think about what you’d like to do with the Manor. Perhaps you’d want to move back in without your parents around and make it your own. Perhaps you want to stay at your grandmother’s house. Perhaps your brother will go to college in the city and you’ll give it to him. It is yours to decide.

For now I’ve sent for one of the members of the trust to care for your brother. His name is Sebastian Eriksson. I’m sure you’ve heard of him. Don’t ask me how I know him – we have a mutual friend – it is a long story. Sebastian will come and take your brother to live with him and his wife in Sulani. The schools are fantastic out there, better than what we have, and I know it will help him get into a good college.

I was not so certain he was doing well here. He always seemed unhappy to me. This will give him the chance to change and make new friends.

You shouldn’t feel pressured to keep your job if it’s not what you want. Use the family resources to follow your passions, your dreams. Take up painting again. You always seemed at peace there.

I love you, Cassandra. You will be great.

(Your father.)