Friday, 31 October 2008

Baptize my mind.

Both my hands are filled with guilt
Give me absolution
Both my eyes are blind with filth
Give me absolution
I'm here.

I keep starting to write and then deleting everything, which isn't what a journal is supposed to be. It doesn't have to be wrapped up in a neat little package every day and sometimes I don't get around to writing it early enough because I can't seem to express myself the way I'd like to be heard. To top it off I'm having an incredibly self-conscious late morning, in which I feel like a virtual pariah, and that I have to lie to my friends when they ask me how I'm doing, how I'm feeling. I say fine through gritted teeth and a small fake smile and they accept it as the truth because they've probably grown tired of my emotions flooding them out of their contented zones. We ran out of comfort words and platitudes a hell of a long time ago and so I worry that if I say the day sucks and I feel like I'm raw and I'd like to go and cry somewhere so I don't break things, that they might roll their eyes, or find a reason to wait longer between visits or phone calls.

Because eventually, yes, that is exactly what will happen. Not because they're jerks or they're not truly my friends (because they aren't jerks and they are my friends) but because human nature is such that when confronted with negativity and grief over and over again we shut down and begin to go through the motions to preserve our own selves.

And so that's what I do, fake it, and I'm hoping it will preempt the need for them to pull away.

I graduated this morning, you know.

From Sam's grief program at the church, one he conducted just for me because I wouldn't do a group thing and one we thought was going to continue until the middle of next month, until he looked at his notes last week and realized we had mere hours left to complete. I think poor Sam knows the inside of my head better than anyone at this point (Joel included) and I feel a little sorry for him, but at the same time, I admire him and am ashamed of myself for the behavior I demonstrated most days as he tried to help me and I refused to help myself. I'm so honored to know him, and Jacob would be proud of his charge, I think. Jacob was Sam's mentor.

I came home and didn't like the fact that I've been denied the relief I thought I would feel when I was finished. That I would somehow be able to weather Jake's upcoming birthday a little better, that I would cry less spontaneously and act less fake to protect the comfort of others. That I wouldn't be in such a drive to feel something different that I resorted to trying to quash an overwhelming need to slam my head in the truck door repeatedly until I felt something other than this. But then I realized I finished something, something just for me.

Sam said not to be in despair, that there isn't supposed to be a great big instant improvement, I only have a better understanding of my feelings, and some tools to use to help myself work through them on a continued basis. That mostly it's a way to help give voice to feelings that I wasn't recognizing so easily, and also to pass the time, and have a dedicated time to talk as much as I want about Jacob, and about Bridget, and that Sam will never roll his eyes or fail to call or visit because one of his duties as a minister is to tend to those who are suffering, and sure, maybe some others are suffering worse and Bridget is a spoiled child who can't get her head on straight but she still deserves this time and she will get his time.

And you know who's proud of me, even though I came home proclaiming that I didn't feel any different and that Sam isn't any good at what he does or maybe I'm just unworthy, unfixable and pointless?

Ben is proud, that's who.

Like Sam, he ignores the fake parts of my facade, he never runs out of patience anymore with me and he's been really incredibly generous about indulging me in my whims, whether they are good for me or not, including too much affection from friends looking to get their share, and deals with the devil, never a good idea. He's weathered everything I have ever thrown at him, and the one request he made when we got married, was that I do this program with Sam, because Ben did it after his father died, and while he said he didn't outwardly feel less sad, he felt like he had accomplished something personal, something important, something good. Something just for him. And now something for you, because Ben is a really really private guy and didn't tell a lot of people about that.

And I don't know what comes next or where life is going to take me, I just know that I think I can handle it. Possibly kicking and screaming, so it will be noisy, whatever it is but I'll do it anyway. And maybe someday soon this smile won't be a fake one.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The impetus of dreams.

You know what I love? Those moments afterward, when I'm still tightly wrapped in Ben's arms and he shifts onto his back again so I can lie against him without being crushed anymore, and we talk a little as we fall asleep. He's warm those times, so warm. Strong, too. That confidence that only comes out in the dark, when we're close together and everything else goes away for just a little while.

We had a rough day yesterday. A day that drove us to our favorite hiding places to ride out the hard parts but a day that saw us team up and attempt to weather it together, at least somewhat. That's such a tall order sometimes but we did it anyway and woke up in a new frame of mind, his arms still around me, his mind clear, his eyes open. The sleep of the dead. No dreams, no waking, just dark, just nothing. Sometimes sleep needs to be that way.

This morning we dropped the children off at school and then Ben went for a meeting and I went for a run and he agreed to meet me at the end of my usual circuit and bring me home. It's nice to be able to keep running without having to check my progress and know that however far I go, I need to turn and come back, and so today found me far past my usual haunts and I had to call him and tell him, no, not there, way over here. By the museum. Yeah, I did make it pretty far this time, didn't I?

When he pulled up he had my purse, a pair of jeans and a shirt and coat in the truck and so I was indeed the woman in the passenger side of that white Ford truck you saw who probably flashed you or gave you a show. Once I was changed and had my running clothes in the bag he brought, he smiled and then he reached into his coat and pulled out my antipersperant. He said that he didn't think I needed it, since I'm perfect and I probably don't even sweat that much when I run (I don't) but he thought I might want it anyway. I asked him if he had any makeup in his coat too, so I could at least have eyelashes at lunch.

Yeah, I've got some but I don't like to share, princess.

You what?

I'm kidding. I stopped doing that years ago.

Yeah, right, Ben.

I get way more respect without it.

I'll bet.

Do you think I do?

Of course, who in the hell is going to take a guy in eyeliner and nail polish seriously?

Another guy in eyeliner and nail polish.

See any of those around?

Not yet but I'm thinking if I can get PJ when he's not looking.

Funny you should say that.

What?

Oh, you know what? Never mind.

No, now you have to tell me.

Benny, PJ is being you for Halloween.

Somehow I thought he would be pissed but I'd rather warm him up to the idea instead of having him deck PJ or something. Instead I got a big surprise.

He is? Really?

Yes. Are you mad?

Hell, no. I think it's awesome!

You're kidding, right?

You know what this means, princess?

No...?

When someone dresses up like you for Halloween, it means you've arrived.

He was grinning like a fool, wisely preferring to believe that his friend was honoring him by playing him for Halloween instead of being pissed off that he might be made fun of. And so he was feeling so good we wound up going not to McDonalds, as he had planned, but some place a little bit nicer, but a place that still wouldn't notice that Elvis and the Girl with No Eyelashes were gracing them with their very presence on a sunny day in October.

Some people are just oblivious, I guess.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

The Romero Marathon.

Today Ben is all about flannel shirts over t-shirts that are older than I am, hot sandwiches grilled just right, horror movies we've seen a hundred times if once and holding my fluttery hands, constantly, firmly, warmly.

All of it blends together into a sense a comfort that makes me shake just a little less today. It's funny how the same meds that calm my head make me appear outwardly to be...

...a total lunatic.

However, I'm a damned cute little lunatic and will now go and enjoy a movie I can quote from beginning to end, safe in the arms of an even bigger lunatic. Life on the fringe today ain't half bad.
Now get the hell down in the cellar. You can be the boss down there, but I'm boss up here!
If you can't guess that one without looking it up you don't deserve to call yourself a horror buff. Wait, what's that? You didn't? Oh, right..that was me.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Pepper Potts has nothing on me.

Wanted it back
(Don't fight me now)
I've had a job offer on the table for a while now.

I haven't said all that much about it, namely because I didn't take it seriously. That's been noticed, and yesterday I was treated to a meeting that spelled out all duties, terms, compensation, benefits and hours and all I have to do is sign the dotted line and call a number for the papers to be delivered back by November 15.

This year?

Yes, that's this coming November fifteenth, Bridget. Two thousand eight. Are you alright?

Now what are those warnings about things that seem to good to be true actually being too good to be true?

Right.

We'll start with the benefits. Salary will be more than anything I've ever made before (read: stupidly high) with full health and dental for the family. Good health and dental. Holiday bonuses and travel perks. Wardrobe (within rigid guidelines which are HILARIOUS) and vehicle. Smart phone updated twice yearly, laptop and expense account in the form of a gold visa card with my name on it. Four weeks vacation and ten sick days per annum. Maximum two weeks travel requirements and six evening shifts per year. Six total. Weekends off save for the travel and evening caveats.

Hours will be Monday-Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm so as not to interefere with the kids' schedules.

Duties include but are not limited to: keeping the calendar and scheduling appointments and coordination of tasks. Running errands. Decorating, designing, wardrobe consulting. Wake-up calls and reminders. Overseeing other staff. Personal shopping, light administration and reception when necessary. Acting as travel, real estate agent and companion for parties/special events if required.

Here's the ultimate perk: I can write in between my other tasks. And there will be downtime. I can write to my heart's content. I will be encouraged to do so. In the event that there is little time left, time will be thereafter scheduled in for me to do so.

There is no contract. Should I hate it, I can walk away and get one year's salary for my troubles.

The cons are more serious.

Very much more serious and that's what holds me back. I'm required to be on very little medication. I need to be sharp and with it and sober and under my own power. I need to keep my personal shit together and I need to be literate, effective and charming if I am to keep ahead of the old-boys' network. There is traveling involved, which I don't like at all. I think the wardrobe requirements are doable but a little over the top (no shoes with heels lower than four inches, for example) and I'll be subjected to a constant barrage of sexual harassment. I am not allowed to humiliate or poison my boss.

Darnit.

Oh and the position itself?

Personal assistant to Satan.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Out composing. Which is better than de-composing. Ugh.

Yes, I'm going to sit at the piano all damn day working out the notes to this.

Guess who else bought a piano? Yes, my brother-in-law. He had a little spending-spree last week and he also bought a Lexus station wagon (sorry, luxury SUV). He does not have children nor does he play piano.

I'm amused.

All is well. See you tomorrow.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Sunday Snapshot.

With nothing better to do
No one to come home to
I woefully conclude
To take it out on you
I'm bored to the extreme
This world of foolish dreams
Disillusion
I am not who I seem to be
Cold city with a wind warning, which means my neighbors who haven't raked their leaves will be spared a good hard job and the fourteen bags of leaves removed from my yard now becomes a pointless endeavor altogether.

A job offer, formalized and presented in an ironclad deadlined format that surprised me to pieces and now I have to think. I'll explore it in great public detail later for the eventual delight of those who serve as my detractors. Something for you to look forward to.

Noticing itunes got stuck on Bad religion. Sometimes itunes IS a bad religion. I loved it in the beginning, then it drove me nuts and I went to using Windows Media Player, and now I'm back to itunes and I fell out of love with it again. I find myself using the stereo a lot instead but sometimes I'm in a mood and frankly, save for Dark Side of the Moon, all of my Floyd is digital.

Lochlan issues, again, something to be saved for later in the week to think about out loud thanks to the overwhelming need for continued self-preservation today.

One guy in jeans and a t-shirt and hoodie who hasn't shaved in days, making a vow to keep me warm and pointing out quite correctly that really, October is done, and November and December are going to just fly by and then boom! In January it will be a whole year since I fell in love with him. And wow, how many ups and downs we've had and how difficult things have been but we're still together, knock on wood.

Wow.

Which made me think I hardly ever mark the good things in terms of days. And it made me grateful for this guy in his stubblefied, dark-circled-eyed glory. It illustrated that maybe we both are stronger than was first thought.

It's a distinct possibility, in any case.

My snapshot is going to end with a boring lunch of hard-boiled eggs which I might eat sitting on top of the woodstove where the kettle usually goes. I am too cold to type anymore.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Rainy days indoors make everyone squirrely. Especially Bridget.

Father Time steals our days like a thief
There's no price that I haven't paid to get some relief
I've become the shell of a man
I can't begin to even understand
I've forgotten who I am
Come on and resurrect me
The morning is a blur of raindrops embarking on a slow race down the windowpane.

In one drop I had a thought that my velvet bag simply won't do in the rain and since it's supposed to snow later tonight I think it's time to find something waterproof. But I really don't feel like shopping much these days.

In another drop was Ben smiling at me when I stretched in bed this morning and remarked that I was sore all over. He began remembering out loud the fun we had after we turned out the lights last night. He's got the absolute perfect blend of gentle and harsh, that's for sure. We had a good laugh last night when he pointed out that his penis is the reason I married him, that he tried to show it to me from the first day I met him and if I had only looked at it I would have seen the glory that is Ben and I could have saved myself all kinds of heartbreak. The biggest laughs came after I used the opportunity to tease him and told him I saw it and meh, it was okay but nothing to get excited about. The look on his face was so priceless I howled with laughter and woke up the kids. Took me most of the remainder of last night to assure him that it's every inch (mom forgive me) as phenomenal as I always imagined it might be (God forgive me). They don't call him the Ladykiller for nothing. Let's give him a big raindrop. Because...wow.

In a tiny drop clinging to the glass is the thought that a year ago today I was sitting in the dark on a cold wooden floor rocking back and forth and shaking like a leaf.

There's a fast little frozen drop at the top on a mission to add to itself, the snowball effect of one person being held up by many. That one little flake is so vulnerable and yet a hard ball of ice packed and rounded can enact significant damage, and I am surrounded once again by people who love me. Overall the dynamics have changed little, we're still a haphazard family and we will get through all of this together, only slightly scathed and dented, losing only a few casualties but picking up reinforcements. An army...of flakes. Hmmm. Maybe I'll come back to that and fix it later. I'm making myself laugh.

And I can no longer see the backyard out the window because of all this rain and all I can think now is I really need to go purse shopping.

Or maybe I'm thinking about Ben's penis.

I'll never tell which it is. Let's just go with both.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Things I like today.

Humor me. Seriously.
  • Big boots leaving mud and leaves tracked across the back porch and right through the kitchen.
  • The last inch of honey in the jar at breakfast and it was all mine.
  • Men who spontaneously open their arms for a hug when they see me.
  • Eyes that crinkle when they smile.
  • Breath that smells like coffee and cigarettes (bet I'm the only one who loves that).
  • Threadbare quilts on beds. Being used, not being folded and left hidden in a closet.
  • A big pot of chili bubbling on the stove.
  • My minty big old truck, gosh, she runs rich.
  • Henry's invented name for his stepfather: Ben-Dad (I don't have the heart to point out it sounds like band-aid). Ruth has started using it too.
  • Five more jars of honey in the basement dry pantry.
  • The suddenly in-full-bloom rosebush in the backyard. Snow is in the forecast.
  • Spending most of the day on the couch mushed between Andrew and Ben, arranging words on my laptop while they ignored me in favor of watching CNN.
  • Life. I like life. The hard parts, I guess eventually they'll pass and everything will even out and there will probably be more ups and downs but really they will be small potatoes compared to the last several years and I'll be ready for whatever happens next. I think I already am.
Blame the drugs. These ones are AWESOME.

One voice, louder than the rest.

Thanks to last night, today is almost okay. I didn't think it would be.

If you've done your math or read here for any length of time, you'll remember that it was a year ago tonight that Jacob told me he was leaving us. And he never came back. Well, he came back the next day and took almost everything he owned and went very very far away and spent many days straight praying, locked in a hotel room overseas and the night before his 37th birthday he jumped off the roof.

We're not going to talk about that. I can't. I am peanut brittle and I can't handle more than the odd random memory or offhand comment. I'm so not ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille.

Instead I'm going to tell you about the freezing-fucking-cold motorcycle ride I had last night. Ben borrowed a bike from a procrastinating neighbor who hasn't put his bike up yet and warned me to go and add as many layers as I could. Even chaps. I never wear the chaps he got for me. Well, not outside anyway. He likes many layers of protection on a bike. Just in case.

I thought he was nuts. Figured we'd be out for a ten minute tear across the city and back and then we could light a fire.

Nope.

Ben drove for thirty minutes in the six-degree moonlight, until the city was a memory far behind us. And his wife was a Popsicle, clinging to his waist, head down, chattering teeth and all. He managed to extricate himself from me finally when he stopped the bike out by the fairgrounds. Across the road is an endless hay field, lit up with endless stars in a prairie sky that is so beautiful sometimes it makes living here almost bearable.

He put the kickstand down and took off his helmet and walked about a hundred yards into the field. Gloves and leather jacket making him almost invisible since he left the headlight on.

He walked back and opened his arms out wide, gesturing.

Is this the perspective you need?

I just shook my head. Defiant. Frozen. Still sitting on the bike. My knees were locked against it and my teeth were clamped together so they didn't chatter so badly.

He threw his arms back down to his sides and walked back to me and pulled me off the bike and half-carried/half-marched me out to where he had walked. He put one hand on the back of my head and one under my chin and forced my head up and then he let go of the back of my head and pointed up into the stars.

Where is he, Bridget?

In heaven.

Where are you, Bridget?

Down here. On earth.

Say it again.

Ben-

Say it again, princess.

I'm on earth.

He can't run your show anymore.

I know.

You know but you're letting him anyway.

I don't know what else to do, Benjamin.

What do I always say to you when things get hard?

Take your own advice, then.

This isn't about me. What do I say?

Just be, bee.

He walked back out into the field.

Just be, little bee. Just let him go. Let the sad parts go and the mad parts and all of it. Let it go. I don't know how to help you. I want to and I don't know how. I can help with as much as I can and it will never be enough until you get to a place where he doesn't exist in every breath you take in. He's not your air anymore, princess, you've been breathing without him now for a whole year and there's a lot of years left that he won't be in. I just want you to take a full breath because Jake is gone and he isn't coming back and we're going to make a life here!

Ben was done. He got it off his chest. Maybe not so smooth anymore. Not eloquent, not articulate, just plain straightforward Ben as only Ben can be.

Yelling.

And it made perfect sense.

So when my brain revolted and exploded all in the next moment I was surprised to see the regret on his face when I fell apart. I went down on my knees in the dirt and let go of my helmet. It rolled away from me but I didn't see it because he was running to me and pulling out his phone and I very slowly keeled right over and everything went black. Dramatic self-preservation to the finest degree.

I woke up in PJ's truck, Ben saying he was sorry. Holding me close to his chest like a baby. Heater blasting in my face.

My head knows when it has had enough and between that and the rolling vertical blackouts I have had from all my higher-dose medication lately I'm now getting the walking coma I wished for for this very difficult time. True to form, I'll keep writing, it just takes that much longer to get out what I want to say.

And I've talked to a lot of people about time recently. How time is marked for me in terms of before and after, pre- and post-, individually, in Cole-time, Jacob-time and Ben-time. How in the blink of an eye you pass a milestone like a year and in that blink everything changes, absolutely everything.

Adapt or die, princess.

It wasn't Ben's voice I heard when I went down.

It was Jacob's. And something tells me I'll never hear it again.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Your demons live for me, Bridget.

Yes, Jacob, I guess they do.

This one gets a song.

Click here then just click on the song and it will play for you. You know how much Bridget likes her music. Just listen to it. Then come back.

Ready? Then here we go.

A year ago today was the last day. The last good day in which I was still completely blind to the fact that Jacob's savior complex had eaten him whole and I was blissfully unaware that the next day would be the worst day of my life.

(You think you want to correct me here, but you don't, actually, sorry. You think you know me but I'm here to tell you that you were wrong on that count as well.)

My best memory of Jacob rests in when I can close my eyes and in my head is a day two summers ago when we went camping as a group, the airstream weekend up at the lake. Jacob had about four beers which is three too many for him and he climbed up onto the roof of the camper and had a guitar passed up and he stood up there tipsily as anything, singing that song, singing his fool heart out in the sun. A pale blue t-shirt that matched the color of the sky perfectly which meant it matched his eyes. Threadbare jeans on the verge of falling apart. Wearing his wedding ring and the big watch that I now keep in the drawer in the bedroom in a box under my stockings because there is no piece left of it that's bigger than a dime.

He did that when he was happy, you know. He sang.
Memories, they wash my mind
Like the frozen rain
I am numb here but I can't forget the pain
Death was yesterday
And somewhere I have never seen
So never mind tomorrow
Tomorrow's never been

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Benjamin saves the day.

If you could only pick one place as your favorite place to be, where would it be, Bridge?

Into a hug, into your arms.

I'm serious.

So am I.

That was too easy.

Okay, next time I'll say the Taj Mahal.
I poured my heart out and it spread over the concrete in a black pool, thick like oil, slow moving and bubbling with a sickly, aching pain. I found a stick nearby and I drew patterns in that pool, shifting some of the blame, taking some of the heartache and shaping it into a boomerang and then I threw it but it never came back.

The clouds raced through the sky over my head like a nightmare in time-lapse photography and I ate some more words but I had to choke them down, they tasted awful. And so I stood, and into my apron I gathered my courage, my hope and my resolve and I took them, bundled up, inside to the fire where I shook them into the grates and watched them burn.

And then when the sky disappeared and the dark came in to quiet the world, pockmarked with tiny lights that other people pin hopes to, my heart found its way back, dragging the ache after it like dirty laundry that has been ignored for too long.

I'm doing all those things that everyone wants me to do.

I take my medicine, even though it makes my hand flutter and my head hurt. I go see my psychiatrist, even though I hate her guts and I believe she hates mine, I go for grief counseling even though it reopens the wounds day after day. I let the children talk to me about their sadness when so moved, even though I'd rather just forget it hurts them too, and I keep on going even though in the very back of my head, a once-loud, now quiet voice points out it would feel good to just go to sleep and not wake up.

I moved on and found that something I once fought against turned out to be something so wonderful and bittersweet and sorely needed.

I changed.

I did all of that and on Friday will I feel any different?

Monday, 20 October 2008

Right up there with fear of clowns.

Treachery,
Like I have never seen,
So never mind your sorrows
Your demons live for me
I'll give him credit for trying.

Caleb came over last night after dinner, with flowers, to prove his regret. I can't imagine what kind of thoughts went through his head when he rang the bell, the one inside the porch, and the front door opened into the hallway where Ben was in the middle of trying on his goalie gear for hockey this winter. He plays when he's home.

So Caleb opened the door and saw Ben standing there, a full ten inches taller than Caleb in his full gear and skates, saw the catching glove and blocking pads and helmet on and wordlessly passed the flowers across the threshold, choked out something about him being sorry, the flowers were for Bridget, and then he turned and left.

At least I think that's what happened, Ben has hardly stopped chuckling long enough to make the story decipherable. He swears he didn't mean to seem menacing. He says he didn't even have his neck guard on. And he didn't have his stick.

Somehow I don't think Caleb noticed those things. I wouldn't have either.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Milton never saw remorse like this.

I ripped a page out of one of the books of Paradise Lost, I think.

I went for an early afternoon walk with Caleb yesterday, down to the benches, his car waiting a whole three hundred yards away because his unspoken request that I comply with, equally unremarked upon is that I dress to the nines when I visit him, and so my black wool dress and long black coat and my black stiletto murder boots make for difficult walking of any distance. It's my funeral outfit for Cole. I wear it to grind that into Caleb. Jacob's memorial outfit was his ever beloved blue velvet that I will never wear again. Ever.

Caleb wanted to know how I was doing. Safe from the confines of my big brothers and incredibly passionate, immature and unruly new husband, safe from August and Joel's abilities to see through his motives so easily, safe from anything that could later used against him, he attacked verbally, from the side.

He didn't like my answers, he failed to accept my words as the truth as I know it. He figures the boys brainwash me in a different way. That they control and I obey and he refused to take my answers as my reality.

He moved here to be closer to the kids and I and I'm not sure I'm one hundred percent clear on his motives. I'm not naive as to what they are but at the same time I'm at a loss to understand how a man with Caleb's money and stature and position in a city he adores can just up and decide to 'retire' (if that's what anyone is really calling it), and leave that beloved city to come live in a place that sports one multi-star hotel and overall, little else that is of interest to him. Especially since said man has zillions of aeroplan miles that go to waste and he's rarely in one place for more than a handful of nights at a time, someone who can and does go absolutely everywhere without taking even the meagerest of a financial hit. Why here?

Please. It can't be my companionship. You can buy that kind of company. I'm sure he has. I bet it was taller and less belligerent, too.

And so I asked.

What difference does it really make to you if I'm okay?

Because I know what Friday is and I know you're not feeling strong enough to face it?

So what?

So, I'm here now.

And that should fix everything?

Maybe, if you let me help you here on your own terms, since you won't accept mine.

Your terms always seem to involve selling you my soul.

Would you stop with the devil remarks, please?

When you stop acting like the devil, sure.

Point noted.

So what's the real reason, Cale?

I think you're well aware, princess.

I want to hear it from you.

Why?

So there's no mistake.

Cole knew, once he went too far, that he'd never have a hand in taking care of you, looking out for you again so he asked me to make sure you were okay, to keep an eye on you, to look after whatever you needed, the kids too.

So you tried to kill me too. Hm. Makes sense.

We got carried away. May I finish?

What else?

I could make you happier.

We're not having a contest.

Sure we are.

Then let me put it to you another way. Want to make sure I have what I need? Then don't make this complicated. I need Ben. I need him straight and I need him here and I need to know no one is fucking with that. That's what I need to get through this.

He just stood there, peering at the clouds through a half-squint, trying to find words for his frustration, to smooth it like wrinkles in a blanket. He failed.

Bridget, I can't do that. No one can, except for Ben. And do you really want to pin all your hopes and dreams and happiness on someone with such a deplorable track record for keeping his promises? Someone who isn't strong?

Why not? Everyone else does that when it comes to me.

I'm not sure if he finally realized he's never going to be someone I trust past appearances or if he realized that the boys and I have come up with a brand new faith that is so imperfect it's more fantasy than spirituality but all of the light drained out of his eyes and he was left wordless and frozen to the ground.

I stopped walking and turned around to look back for him.

I see now why they feel the way they do.

Oh, why is that?

Because you're the strong one, and they're leaning on you, princess.

And they say I'm slow.

I turned around and continued walking up the gravel path and around the loop that would take me back to the car, jamming my hands in my pockets and hunching my shoulders forward, as if I was cold. It wasn't the cold though, it's the weight.

Caleb caught up to me just as the driver opened the door for me.

I don't get it. You're not strong enough for this. How is this even possible?

Haven't you ever been to church? You don't get to pick your path, it's chosen for you. You just have to walk it as steadily as you can, following God. Like me in these ridiculous boots on gravel, Cale. It gets easier.

It's not fair to you. We're supposed to hold you up.

I could barely hear him now. I wasn't even sure if he said it out loud but I snapped back anyway.

No one said life was fair. And the other way didn't fucking work so-

You're the angel-

DON'T YOU SAY THAT!

I balled my fists up and yelled in his face. His composure slipped and fell to the ground in a whisper.

I'm so sorry, Bridget. For everything.

Underneath I saw the tears. And he managed them quite formally, as he does with everything, letting his eyes fill while he got in the car beside me but looking the other way, out the window as we were driven back across the river to take me home, and I sat and stared at him without a single notion to allow him the dignity of some privacy, because he has allowed no dignity for me ever.

But for the first time, in twenty-three years of knowing Caleb, it's probably the first thing he has ever said to me that I trust is true.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Expectations cast in sand.

I'm up on the wall today, slowly tightroping my way across the stone as leaves scatter around me, not strong enough to push me off but threatening enough to distract me with their dance, partnered to the wind. My arms are rooted to my body at my elbows, hands cupped to keep the words from spilling, almost failing at keeping my balance on behalf of my body, stick-straight in the middle of the wall as I press forward, one foot and then the other in front of it. Eyes straight ahead, mouth set in a half-curve of foolish, misguided determination and a desire not to fall off.

If I fall off, I'll be bruised, but only on the inside, and I'll have to climb back up with help and begin again. I've come too far to do that now. I see the end in sight and then I can climb back down and walk on the ground like everyone else. I won't be the freak, perched up high above their heads, trying to at least walk somewhere, instead of getting nowhere at all. Breathing despite the lump in my throat, seeing despite the tears welling up perpetually in my eyes, and hearing everything they say about me in their hushed whispers, in spite of the ever-present thud of my erratic heartbeat in my own ears.

Here's the thing, I'm in no danger of falling off right now. Not with these steps, not on this portion of the wall. It seems to be a safe zone, see, since I have leaned out very far and still remained on top. I'm sure I dropped a few words down to the ground, I see them resting in amongst the leaves and I'm sure someone will pick them up later.

Do you understand why?

When he saw me lean, he startled, and with a shout he called out to me that it was okay. That I could try anything.

Because he would catch me.

The only trouble is, he's standing on one side of the wall. What if I fall off the other side? What then, dear Benjamin? His solution was to swear at the wind, and then he reached up with both arms and pulled me down off the wall and then he didn't let go.

You can't fall if you're already on the ground. You can't fall when someone is there supporting you. You can't fall if you're steady.

You can't fall if you're already down, Bridget.

There is no foundation here, I said.

Sure there is, it's just flimsy as hell, he laughed.

We need to make it stronger and we need to do it now. I wasn't laughing.

Yeah, he nodded. His eyes were grim in the sunlight. We are, Bridget. We are.

And with that, he took my hands and pulled me to my feet and we set off down the sidewalk.

Friday, 17 October 2008

A different kind of thief.

Wait for me.
Trust for me.
Fall for me.
Even when you don't know you're falling for me.
This one doesn't steal memories, he simply alters them, ever so slightly.

Late last night, long after the kids were asleep, I returned to the garage, a hot mug of tea for Ben balanced in my hands, because it dropped to five degrees after the sun went down and the moon rose, bright and full in the night sky.

He was still grinning, happy for having fixed my truck for me even as he had scowled and cursed his way through the job, not impressed that I just didn't plan to rely on him and everyone else to chauffeur me through the winter months.

We listened to the unbalanced hum of the engine. So it needs a few tweaks to sound smooth. He'll continue to work on it. He also fixed the tailgate, so now instead of being rusted shut it opens easily for me in case I need to put something in the box. As if I can lift anything into the back.

He suggested I climb up and sit in the box. I settled for accepting a hand up and I perched on the edge of the open gate while he stood in front of me, his arms around me, my chin against his collarbone.

He suggested that we christen the truck. For luck.

In five degrees? I whispered, surprised.

Why not?

This from the coldest man I know.

I opted to let him lead but he didn't go anywhere. The thought of him folded up in the three-person cab was comical at best, but Ben had other plans anyway. I've never had my clothes removed so purposefully or slowly in my entire life. In minutes I'm sitting there on the gate, naked and covered in shivers and goosebumps and smiling from ear to ear as Ben removed his coat and wrapped it around me and then slid me right out to the edge.

So not cold anymore.

He kissed my throat, arching me back over his arms and holding me off the cold metal by mere inches and then when we were pressed together, his coat pushed up to my shoulders, he could no longer maintain that hold. He gently pressed me into the frigid metal and I cried out loud, it was so cold and then suddenly the blend of fire above and ice below was a whole fresh kind of heaven. Just cruel enough to be beautiful, just dangerous enough to be safe.

With his hands on my face, to be sure that I was paying attention. To be sure that I knew that it was Ben, not a ghost, not a memory, not a dream. His fingers sliding over my lips, over my ears.

Over my lower lip again so many times, a thumb that hesitated just the right amount of time, and my heart broke and mended all in one smooth blow and I emerged a whole new girl.

We came back inside, me still bundled in that coat that is always warm no matter what, my spindly legs sticking out the bottom, hoping none of the neighbors were peeking out their windows, and when we made it to the lights of the kitchen he laughed, for my face was covered with smudges of grease from his hands. Upstairs we discovered giant prints followed over most of my body, concentrated on my arms and my back, full hand prints there for us to marvel over in the full-length mirror. A metaphor for something wonderful.

We spent a solid half-hour in the bath, scrubbing me with soap and shampoo and even dish liquid, and managed to get off all but the worst of the marks, I believe today I still have the grayish shadow of Ben's fingers on my right shoulder blade and my entire left hip is blanketed with his giant hand span and then once we were clean, the inviting warmth of our bed in the dark, quiet room forged a safer place for us to draw out the rest of our want for each other. When his fingertips once again traced a path worn smooth by the two great loves who have traveled it before him, a feeling bubbled up to the surface in me that I never thought I would feel again, and I realized that it isn't possible to own (or even steal) memories after all.

One can only borrow them before others will claim them back. Only Ben isn't giving them back this time. He's going to pick the ones he wants to use and then he'll box up the rest, hiding them away forever, because here they're taking up too much room.

And today, underneath my twelve-hour lip gloss by Revlon is a faint gray thumbprint that I couldn't bear to even try to scrub off.

Give me this and I will give you everything I have.

Take it, it's yours.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Yay! My new (very vintage) truck started! Ben's been working on it off and on for over a week.

I wasn't worried.

Okay, I've been a little worried.


And you all owe me fifty bucks! Each!

Perfect temperatures.

That's the color of his eyes. Molasses. Warm liquid pools that defy the rest of his cold angularity and removed presence.

Only he wasn't cold and he wasn't seemingly removed even though he was right there, sitting on the step beside me, finishing a cigarette in the freezing cold while I watched the remaining leaves cling desperately to their branches, defying winter to take over their crowning glory of a season, trading color for individual perfect snowflakes.

Last winter we fell in love.

Well, I did. I suspect and have confirmed that I've been the center of Ben's universe since the day I met him and a lot of the time I resent the hell out of that, because sometimes it has felt like a virtual too little, too late copy of how my friendship with Jake progressed and if you think I somehow missed that wallowing in my dark gothic misery, you would be mistaken.

I know all of this.

And I know that this week something became different. Briefly Ben pulled away again from the collective mindset of fix her, a chant that rises above our heads and sticks in our ears until we shut down because it's hopeless, to be strong for her.

Stop drinking, stop running, and stop fighting and just be yourself. For her. For yourself. Be independent. Be the guy she loves and not the ones she's lost. Be yourself. I could see all this on his face and so I asked Ben about it, only I let the words pour out in a huge rush of revelation and they were misordered and so it came out as a accusatory failure when it was meant to be the most touched of open emotion to him.

True to form, he came out swinging his words by their tails, fighting back to protect himself from this sudden and unpredictable blonde fury. Only my hair is dark now. Short and plain and I look like a child who couldn't hurt a fly because the darker hair only serves to magnify the circles underneath my eyes which have come to resemble a stagnant pond somewhere in the woods instead of their once-miraculous green-turquoise. He let the words fall away, bouncing harmlessly off the walls I threw up in defense and then he just stared at me, without a hint of eloquence or charm, every bit the giant unruly and defiant teenager that I know Ben to be when he's beyond pissed and running on feeling instead of good grace.

Why can't you just accept it? why can't we just BE?

I had stood up and his words turned my knees to rubber so I sat back down in a hurry. On his hand.

He didn't move and I slid sideways to let him free and I could hear him as he let out a long slow sigh in the other direction. He turned back to me.

As is, princess.

I know, Benny.

I'm done complicating this.

Me too.

But are you? Are you really?

I have to be. There's no other way.

No, there isn't, is there?

Will it work?

Of course.

How do you know for sure, Ben?

You're everything to me, bee. You're my home and my heart. There is nothing else. We'll be okay, it just takes time.

Do we have time, Ben?

We have all of it, bee. All of it. Together.

Promise?

You really want another promise from me?

Yes.

Are they any good?

You're still here, Ben.

It takes so very little to make you happy, Bridget, you know that? You should really raise your standards.

I did.

Oh.

Out of the corner of my eye I could him smile, then. It wasn't a big smile, but it was there nonetheless.


Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Only for me.

One of the most interesting things about being me is that no one else is. There are a few people who come close, people who have similar tragedies or similar lives, or maybe you've been in love so you know exactly how I feel.

Well, you don't.

Those of you who would hurl words through cyberspace in an attempt to feel righteous and above reproach have got to be the most narrow-minded people I have ever encountered and what I don't understand is why in the hell are you coming in here to read some girl's sad diary in the first place if you're so awesome and incredibly perfect and jaded and lucky?

Oh-oh (she sings). Busted.

Maybe I'm having a bad day and maybe on days like today I shouldn't write anything, and get a little pleasure out of giving you less ammunition to stuff in your fucking judgment cannon and maybe then I could garner an ounce of peace from one thing in the day but I'm the ever-dedicated masochist and so, what the fuck, here I am.

Back for more.

I woke up this morning in pain, okay? I woke up staring into brown eyes that half the time I don't even recognize. I woke up knowing that because of me a friend is starting his life over again at 35 years of age and I woke up knowing that Jacob is dead and maybe he was the only one who ever really knew me at all and knew how to make things go away and knew how to hypnotize me or comfort me long enough so that I could get through the harder parts in my own skin, a covering that is woefully inadequate for this war of a life I never signed up for.

Just don't, okay? Not today.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

On not taking solace in the arms of your shrink.

It always seems to me that when something goes wonderfully, and everyone makes a big effort to Keep Things Nice, something is up.

Something was up.

Joel's disciplinary hearing. It was this morning but no one told me, of course. So I wouldn't worry. The good news was, they didn't revoke his licence. The bad news? They suspended it instead, for two years (three with time served already), then it will be partially reinstated while he practices, supervised, for five years. This after taking a bunch of training courses and ethics workshops and a million other hoops he has to jump through. He is now seriously considering walking away from what would have been an incredibly promising career, had he never met me.

And frankly, I don't care to be called the victim in this. You can say it all you like, I don't care what kind of authority or obligation Joel had to maintain a psychiatrist-patient boundary, the simple fact is I asked him for something and I got it.

And he has to pay the price and I don't quite understand why I don't. I mean, I do, but I don't. I just don't see where he took advantage, when I was the one who made the first step inward.

In any case, he has other options and may or may not return to psychiatry in the future. But more importantly, he is still my friend.

I know, big surprise there. Ben was really hoping things would go the other way.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Three days in one, the Thanksgiving edition.

I know I didn't talk much about my reaction on Saturday. I was still processing the day when I wrote it out, still waiting to talk privately to several of the guys because the day strung out into a very long, very full production and it's hard to get that much private time with ten or twelve different people that I needed to thank in person, especially when I really could have used a couple of hours in between each to compose myself.

Ben hadn't said much, just that we were maybe headed to the farm and I dreaded that and so he said we would go see Cole before we left and take a little breather. Only August's jeep was in the parking lot and it gave things away slightly, but not completely. All the guys managed to hide out until Ben whistled and then people appeared out of nowhere just as we rounded the hilltop to walk down to Cole's bench and I saw the other bench with a shiny new plaque installed.

Everyone's eyes were on me and I started to shake uncontrollably and Ben unzipped his coat and tucked me into it and wrapped the sides around me, in his arms until I doubt you would have known I was there if you hadn't seen my legs. My knees were rubber, my heart pounded and my eyes blinded me with tears I couldn't blink away.

What a perfect idea.

The kids needed something desperately and I've been paralyzed. Unable to make any decisions when it comes to Jake because I always make the wrong ones. Unable to move forward or backward, just stuck in today, always. Get through today, plan and reminisce for nothing. Make no lists, try not to focus on the time, on the hours, the minutes, the months without him, focus on the red-blooded man who IS here for you. Get over yourself. Be brave. Let Jacob go, just a little, not a lot, so that you can breathe again.

That's been my internal pep talk for eleven months now and it's failed me miserable, hasn't it?

Ben didn't let go of me until the shaking stopped, and I was passed off to Loch with what I'm sure was a lovely expression of total distrust but Lochlan gave me a squeeze and practically tossed me into PJ's arms, where he hung on like I was a life raft. Sorry PJ, I'm going to tell the internet you cry on my behalf because I think it's awesome.

Ben had both kids in his arms now and they were crying because they take their cues from me.

PJ did not pass me along, Ben had to ask for me back eventually.

Sam said a few words that meshed nicely I'm sure with whatever he had said at Jacob's memorial service (I have no idea what they were) and I couldn't hear him yesterday thanks to the wind but Ben said it was nice and he would repeat it verbatim whenever I was ready but I don't think I need to hear it. After that they just waited and I finally stepped forward and went over and sat down on Jacob's bench and looked at the river and then I put my hands up over my face and Ben's coat was there to hide in again, against his warmth, in his strength that waffles so mightily sometimes. Only when you force him to be strong he is and I wasn't and so we traded for the day.

I did manage to see everyone and talk to everyone privately who was still here by the end of the night and at midnight or so I met Lochlan on the patio to say goodnight and thank him too, though we've been weird and at odds and not talking much, I wanted him to know that I was glad he came. He motioned to two shots on the table. Whiskey. A toast. To what I don't know, so probably less a toast and more a soothing way to put out the fire in my head, calm my thoughts, help me sleep. I lifted my glass and he started talking and he toasted me. To my strength, to my fierce needs to keep going even though it hurts, to do things the way I need to do them and to the girl who is uniquely Bridget and completely unpredictable. And to Jacob's princess, he would be proud of me now.

It was gone before he finished that sentence because by then I really needed it.

He gave me a fast hug and went out through the gate to walk back to John's house where I'm sure the rest of the whiskey would disappear overnight and I turned to go back in the house. Ben was in the kitchen washing dishes. I snuck up behind him and said I was going to go up and brush my teeth if he wanted to go to bed now. Before I could escape he turned and kissed me really hard.

SHIT.

The whiskey was still burning my lips.

He smiled and said I tasted frightening good. I tried to apologize and he just kissed me again and said he loved me, to go up and he'd finish up and get the lights and join me in a few minutes. He was coming up the stairs before I could wrestle the cap off the toothpaste and then he collapsed on the bed, waiting for me while I scrubbed each tooth and my tongue and then my face, hands, and then for good measure I brushed my teeth again.

He kissed me again as I crawled into bed and said the toothpaste was a nice improvement and I apologized but he cut me off again and so I left it and he said if I want to take a drink or have a really hard cry I don't need to go to extraordinary measures to do so. That he was better with me not living on pins and needles on his behalf. I know all this but we have some sort of compulsive need to repeat whole conversations over and over again until something takes hold.

Yesterday was tough, in comparison, really tough as more finalities came to roost in my overcrowded brain and Ben was in and out and Andrew was here keeping watch over the girl he calls Peanut Brittle (isn't THAT a lovely nickname) and I was headed to a white-knuckle finish by about nine pm and so Ben sent Andrew home and suggested we get some rest, because tomorrow we had a big day and....and I don't know what he said or did after that because the moment I had permission to sleep, I closed my eyes and that was it. I have to be told to stop moving sometimes or I'll just keep going.

Waking up at nine-thirty on a day when you have more than a dozen people coming for dinner isn't such a wonderful idea, but I feel very slightly better than i did yesterday, if only this headache would go away, and Henry is back to normal, after a brief bout with the vomit fairy yesterday morning, and everyone will pitch in so I'm not worried about the meal at all, I think it will be fun, and nice to have almost everyone together under one roof for a happy occasion.

And as per tradition within this family made of misfits and wanderers and passion, when one chair goes empty it is filled with someone new and the dynamic changes once again. Only this time the new addition to our group is going to take a lot of getting used to, but at the same time he is tolerated because he is blood and in our family blood is thicker than friendship and so no one dared to question my motives.

I filled the empty chair with Caleb.

We don't call my brother-in-law Satan for nothing. If he's going to share this city with me he's going to be introduced to the force to be reckoned with that is the rest of my guys, who have so far hung back, watching warily while Jacob and Ben and Joel have interacted with him. I've kept them all apart as much as I could on purpose, but with his move here being finalized on Friday, it's time.

But in my house his power will be moot and I expect him to behave. Starting today. He's completely outnumbered and he's going to get eaten alive. Nicely, though, because it's a holiday and there are children present and because the guys are really good with looks and words and making things known without ever having to say things. And I will watch him from the relative safety of Ben's arms because I don't plan to be anywhere else for the rest of today. I'm not sure how Ben will eat anything at dinner with me in the way but he'll figure it out. He's done it before.

And that, my friends, is something to give thanks for.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

I'll never hear your voice again.

With a rare and very innocent comment, I averted certain disaster a little while back. I referenced Nolan's farm as being a dedicated "Bridget and Ben" place, stringing together the fact that we pretty much fell in love, hooked up, got engaged and then got married there.

Good thing, that.

Because the guys REALLY weren't thinking when they decided they were going to have a memorial to Jacob put on the property, with Nolan's blessing because Jacob and Nolan were friends for years and years and Nolan misses him too. Only dammit, the farm now belongs to Ben and I as a safe and private place, not as a shrine to Jacob.

So thankfully the boys clued in and changed their plans and came up with the best idea ever. Remember Cole's bench? It's a bench with a small brass dedication plate welded to it, and it sits facing the river at the end of the walking path in a huge park about five kilometers from here. I picked it because it was close enough to visit and far enough to forget. I picked it because I don't believe in headstones or grave markers or cemeteries or granite reminders. I like functional, and subtle and simple.

Jacob has a bench now.

It sits perpendicular to Cole's bench and now there is seating for up to six people there at the end of the trail and it's funny because overall Cole and Jacob didn't like each other all that much and it's awesome because now when I take the kids to visit they will each have a bench to spread out on and they can switch now and then and everyone is happy.

And we got this present early because the evil one stepped in and pulled some strings so that we wouldn't have to wait-having a bench dedicated takes forever, never mind being able to choose a place that's already been chosen, so much and the evil one was also the one to point out I wouldn't be able to appreciate it in two weeks so may as well get it over with now and he was right and I appreciate the things he does, even though I wonder what price I'll pay later on.

Two weeks from yesterday will mark a year since Jake left and four weeks from now is his death-date and frankly I'm holding a grenade but there is no pin for it. It seems to be slow acting but who knows? I like the bench, I like where it is, it makes me laugh to see them sitting side by side, since I can count the number of times they did that in real life on one hand, since I was always wedged firmly in between them. I still am, in so many ways, and in so many other ways I'm not the girl that either one of them loved.

Thank you guys, for this gift.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Bridget, can I ask you something?

Sure, PJ, go ahead.

Do you ever wish that you'd never married Jake?

Yeah, sometimes.

Really?

I used to think that the brief epic romance he showed me was worth it but I don't think it is anymore. Ben is capable of so much more than that.

You comparing?

No, any man is capable of that once they lose their inhibitions.

I think you're right. But..

But what?

Doesn't it mean this was all for nothing?

Of course not. I was given the greatest of gifts through this.

How strong you are.

Damn right, PJ.

Can I ask you one more thing?

Sure, whatever you want.

Since when did Ben qualify as a romantic?

You'd be surprised, PJ.

You're damned straight I would be, princess.

Would you guys leave him alone already?

Never, he's too easy to pick on.

Nice. Thanks.

Ah come, on, Bridge! He's a caveman with a guitar strapped on, pretending to be civilized.

He's awesome with a capital B, Padraig.

You're killing me. You guys are so emo.

Emo? You can't be emo when you're pushing forty.

Sure you can. You both have proven that.

PJ, if you were a girl you would understand.

And if you were a guy...wait, life wouldn't be any fun then.

Sure it would. I'd be able to write my name in the snow!

I don't want that image in my head, Bridget.

Snort.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Wet sidewalks, warm soup, angry words, sappy apologies.

I've lost all that I wanted to leave
I've lost all that I wanted to be
Don't believe that there's nothing that's true
Don't believe in this modern machine.
If the month of October is to remain rainy, cold and cozy then I'll willingly oblige and sleep in front of the fire. I'm learning that if the ghosts and the wellmeaningsers would let me sleep I could do it more often than I do.

And I will.

All afternoon and evening. Ben and I are fought-out, counseled-out, and even lunched-out. So if you need us, you now know where we'll be. I'll be in his arms and he'll be in mine. Or as much of him as I can fit anyway. The odds are not stacked in my favor.

Have a good day.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Conclusion: The Memory Thief.

He ran flat out down the dark alleyway, splashing through puddles and careening around obstacles in his path.

Before his brain had a chance to compare the relative safety of the building with where he was now, a fist came out of the blackness and connected with his jaw.

Down he went, the bundle flying out of his arms. The thief stared up at his would-be mugger, and the mugger stared back. The precious bundle rested on the wet pavement between them, still wrapped in the thief's coat. Still safe, for the moment.

What do you want?

Is this all of them?

Yes. Why?

I'm taking them.

That isn't a good idea.

The mugger didn't say anything. He walked forward and gently picked up the bundle. He removed the coat, tossing it toward the thief, who didn't make a move to catch it. The mugger leafed through the stack of memories, nodding here and there, frowning and then smiling softly. He glanced up once, his dark eyes shining in the night and then he turned and began to walk away.

Those aren't safe for you to keep, you know!

The thief's sure pronouncement echoed off the brick around them.

I'm not keeping them

The thief jumped to his feet and ran after the mugger. He grabbed the mugger's shoulder and spun him so they were face to face.

What are you going to do with them?

I'm going to put them back.

You can't.

You had no right to take them.

Someone had to save them, that building is condemned. If we don't keep them safe they'll be lost forever.

They're in the building for a reason. It's where they belong. And there's a chance we can save everything but not like this.

This is the only way.

No, it's not.

Do you have a better idea?

Yes, I do.

What is it?

We leave it alone. Taking it apart before we need to isn't going to work.

I know that, that's why I'm trying to work with what I've been given, Ben.

Then try something else, Sam!

And he took off, back toward the building, back to return the memories to their places. To file them away in their locked cabinets in the locked room at the end of the hall where they would be safe. No one was in a rush to get the building torn down, structurally it was safe. He was fine with continuing to live on borrowed time as long as there was no more pain for her.

He got to the top of the fire escape only to find the window open. He entered and walked to the first door with the broken pane. It was open. He went in and sat down on the floor and opened the drawer closest to him and began to sort through the paper.

It would be a long night, but he would stay until everything was returned to its rightful place.

*****************

The sun had risen high in the sky when he stood and stretched, arms to the ceiling as his stomach rumbled with hunger. The mugger surveyed the room and smiled to himself. Job well done, he thought.

He called out loud, his voice jagged and hoarse,

It's finished. You're okay. You're safe now. I will watch over you.

He didn't hear a response.

The door opened and he turned, surprised. When he went out into the hall, he found that the building had changed. It was full, offices were bustling, elevator floors were being rung, printers buzzed, coffee was carried to desks in busy arms full of important business, and the building seemed new again. The floor was different, the scratched and faded covering replaced with muted grey carpet to keep the noise down. To his surprise, the window in the door was intact, frosted glass masking the contents but allowing the light into the hall.

His smile was a little unsure now, as he tried to blend in, casually walking toward the elevator noises. He got to the center of the floor and realized he knew a lot of the people working here. People nodded to him, a few squeezed his shoulder. One man, dressed in an expensive suit, came forward to shake his hand and thanked him for saving the building, because there was a lot of work to be done here and it was an important place and that the mugger was going to be very happy living and working here.

He nodded, saying nothing, as the realization began to sink in. He didn't have to save it alone, but neither did the thief have to tear it apart to save what he could. Everyone would work together.

That realization was fleeting, dashed to pieces as he got to the main floor lobby and saw cracks sealing themselves as he walked across the floor.

No, it wasn't everybody.

It was the building. It was healing itself. They only had to help. The doors to that room didn't have to stay locked now. The building was full of light and it had purpose.

He sucked in his breath and smiled.

Bridget wasn't a lost cause after all. He always knew that though, it was a risk he was glad he took. Even if he had to pretend to be the bad guy sometimes.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Drive-by Tuesdays.

I wanted freedom
Bound and restricted
I tried to give you up
But I'm addicted
There are three things I bring to the table today.

One is that I'm really surprised to see the fine spray of white paint on the brick trim at the back of the church is still there from a cold blustery day back in 2006 when Jacob had a very bad cold and was still trying to finish the addition before the snow started. I've looked at that mark every single time I have walked in and out of that church for the past almost-year and this morning I realized that it'll never come off unless they paint the brick (who paints brick? Not a church with a limited maintenance budget) or sandblast it (again, not in the budget) and so it will remain as proof that he existed in a tangible way and not in the way I'm forcing myself to keep him.

Which is ironic, considering the second thing I'll tell you today. I'm giving up Jacob's last name. It's part of re-imagining my life with Jacob in a way that is less-damaging to my soul. I have to let him go, just a little. This will be step one. Move on. Name change. Here we go again. Four last names in fifteen years. The fun part is I won't be sharing the new one here because I'm going to go back to being the uber-mysterious princess for a while because it's easier for me. So there.

Three, I bought a truck.

I know, big deal. Well this time it is because it was a rash, uncharacteristic decision in that it's....a really old truck. A '75 C10 in the most horrifying shade of milky minty green you have ever laid eyes on. It works, but barely. I plan to have it fixed so that it's reliable and then it will become my winter vehicle because my little brand new car isn't going to be so good in the snow and Ben's truck is HUGE and I don't think he trusts my driving all that much, which makes two of us. So the truck made a surprise appearance to the driveway this afternoon and I couldn't be happier.

As usual, everyone else thinks I have lost my mind.

As usual, they're probably right but it's better than the mental paralysis of the previous eleven months and beyond.

Right now I'm going to go see if the truck will start. Place your bets and stop laughing.

Part Two: The Memory Thief.

As abruptly as the screaming had begun, it stopped.

The lights began to go out, in the reverse order that they were turned on, he could hear the heavy clunk of the switches shutting down one after another, quicker now until the building was once again steeped in blackness. This quiet darkness was worse than before, after the calamity in the room, the only sound now his harsh breathing and the feather-light sweeping swish of the last few pieces of paper sliding off open drawers to the floor.

The door slamming shut broke the silence.

He reached down to the floor, scooped up a handful of the papers, and smoothed them into a neat stack. He worked methodically through the night, gathering hundreds of them in his arms and bringing them to the space in the middle of the floor where a pile grew. Once he was sure he had every last one, he wrapped the stack in his coat and tucked the bundle securely under his arm.

The door wouldn't open.

He waited for a few heartbeats in the room, standing motionless before finally taking a deep breath and talking softly.

Open the door, please.

He heard laughter all around him.

Open the door now, please.

More laughter, and the doorknob rattled violently.

Please?

Everything stopped.

The door opened slowly, as wide as it could go and the a single word reverberated through his skull as it echoed through the empty building.

NO!

The door slammed shut again.

He walked to the door and tried the knob gingerly. There was no resistance as he turned it and he opened it again and looked both ways down the long hallway. There was nothing to see in the darkness and so he took a step out. He walked purposefully back to the window at the end of the hall, the same way he had come in and stepped out, back onto the rusted fire escape to make his way back to street-level.

He thought he could hear the faint sound of someone crying, softly like they didn't want anyone to hear. He shook his head as the sound was carried away on the wind and descended the stairs slowly and carefully until he reached the bottom, stepping off onto the wet pavement into the deserted alley.

He broke into a run.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Part One: The Memory Thief.

amHe slipped in during closing, when no one was watching, sliding a leg down through the open window and finding easy purchase on the highly polished wooden floor. He walked carefully down the dim hallway, avoiding the boards that might creak under his weight and then froze at the first door, silent and still.

Was someone coming?

He held his breath and waited.

No, there was no one there. It must have been the wind. Or the building. Sometimes buildings settle and make noises that only seem to be important when it's getting dark outside. Filling his lungs with air again he pressed on, trying the first door and finding it locked.

He moved on.

After several frustrating minutes he came to the conclusion that all the doors seemed to be locked and so he circled back to the first door, the one closest to the window at the end of the now-dark hall. It appeared to have a rather flimsy doorknob lock in a door that was half-glass, a large window set into it, single-paned, rippled with age.

Doable, he thought.

He took one last look around, just to reassure himself that he was indeed alone.

He covered his eyes with one arm and put his fist through the glass.

It shattered all around him in a deafening crash and he tore his arm away from his face to check again to see if anyone was watching him. The hallway remain deserted but now an alarm was ringing somewhere, deep within the building. He looked at his hand, watching as the blood ran down his knuckles and dripped off the edge of his palm. Any other time he would have been hypnotized by his injuries but he knew he didn't have a moment to waste now that the alarm had been triggered.

He reached through the window and unlocked the door from the inside, throwing it wide open. The door slammed against something on the inside, ricocheting back into his face. He kicked it open again before it struck him and threw himself through the doorway.

Inside he took a quick inventory of the room. There was a small window on the opposite wall that afforded better lighting than what was now in the hall and as he surveyed his surroundings he saw the room contained only a row of wooden file cabinets on each side, their drawers neatly labeled in her modern handwriting, a distinctive blend of capital letters and loopy lowercase, easy to read and impossible to duplicate.

He crossed the room with purpose now, and with rage roiling through his veins he began to rip the drawers out of the cabinets, two at a time, letting the contents fly around the room in a paper blizzard, a storm no one would ever want to be caught in. The beginnings of an evil smile began to tug the corners of his mouth upward and he started to laugh as all the lights began to come on, one by one down the hallway and then the room he was in was suddenly bathed in the harsh fluorescent light of day even though the day was long over.

And that was when the alarm stopped ringing and the screaming began.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Dischord is such a pretty word, though.

The night is gone and all we get
A picture for a poem, and we lose her
There's something about a late-morning run that throws off my entire day. I don't know why it is, but it is what it is and this is what it is. Thrown, but in a good way.

Go rake some leaves and drink some mulled cider and find a good scary movie and a big warm blanket. I'll see you tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Reeling and dealing.

I have a headache. A blisteringly painful stabbing noise that cuts my vision in half and makes me wince every time the car door is closed and the driver (Mike..I think) is doing a damn fine job doing it gently because he knows how I feel, having been chauffeuring me around for over an hour now, stopping at the pharmacy so I could pick up a bottle of ibuprophen to go with the Evian water Caleb has stocked wherever I'm going to be.

I didn't know I could post on the go but apparently I can.

I'm playing assistant again today.

I've already gone to the loft to inspect the work that was done over the last few days, I've gone to pick out a dishwasher because Caleb can't be expected to do dishes any more than he'll be able to do his own laundry (which will be sent out) even though I can't see him cooking either, I've arranged to have his movers on the right day via phone and now he wants me to go pick out linens for him to be delivered the day before his move. I've arranged cleaning services to come and clean his old condo, which he will be giving up and also to clean the new loft before he arrives.

I still can't believe he is seriously moving here but in his state of present mind he has decided that he needs to 'retire' close to family and since his folks have each other and he wouldn't dream of moving back to Nova Scotia anyway with it's rustic charm and unsophistication he chose to come and be closer to us. And since he's only technically retiring from his CFO position at his law firm, he'll still have all his other business interests to keep him busy so I hope that means he'll have precious little time to devote to his 'family', which is the children and I.

I won't say I'm thrilled about any of this, honestly. But Ben just tells me not to worry about it, and he strums another chord on his guitar and picks up the words to a song, singing them quietly to calm me. I'm trying to hang on to that memory of last night while I get through my morning, but really, I think I'm going to try to check off the next three items on the list and then pack it in and go home and lie down. The rest can wait.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

The reading tree.

During dinner this evening, Ruth and I crafted a story about a tree that ate paper. It ate scraps of notepads and phone books and cardboard tubes and paper towels with pizza sauce and old forgotten Westerns and the books that fall down behind the tables in the waiting rooms at hospitals. It ate opened envelopes, coffee filters, concert ticket stubs and love letters too.

It grew to be many different colors, high above the other trees in the forest, in shades of green and brown but also in the pale pink of Aunt Merriweather's favorite stationery and the pretty blue of city water bills. It shone in the sun because so much paper is plain white, but there was nothing plain about this tree, oh no.

If you look very closely when the leaves begin to fall from it you'll see the faint etchings on them, discarded poems, grocery lists and abandoned stories too, a little math homework and a rough sketch of the very pretty girl you sat across from at the coffee shop, and smiled at so bashfully. Poem was her name, but you did not know that. You did not ask. Her name was Tuesday and Lyrica too. She invents all kinds of names, as many names as there are leaves on the reading tree. She will never tell you her name is Bridget. She doesn't want to be the last leaf still holding to the pretty pink bark of merriweather elm.

Do not collect the leaves and try to make your own story, just read them into the wind. This is iambic recycling and you are the collector.

Mmmmm. Phish and porn, all in one day. You are so lucky, internet.

Not my youtube, but good youtube nonetheless. Today's theme, if you will. And a really good jam.
Pantomime mixtures of heaven and earth
Jumbled events that have less than no worth
Time in the forest to dig under rocks
Or float in the ocean asleep in a box

Or sink just below all the churning and froth
And swim to the light source or fly like a moth
So toss away stuff you don't need in the end
But keep what's important and know who's your friend.
My beautiful husband rescued the disaster that was yesterday. When I couldn't put the words together anymore and nothing went right and everything fell apart in the most epic fashion ever, he took a moment and then refused to buy into the ruin after the initial exchange of words.

He rescued most of the evening and then all of the night in a wonderful, physical match of wills as his hands slid over my legs just before I fell asleep. He brought me back to earth with his hand holding down my head and his lips everywhere and then took me away again and it wasn't until I was writhing against him that I realized the little things don't matter and history doesn't matter and nothing matters once the mistakes of the day get sorted out. What matters is that we're here, we're together and that with the touch of his hands I can forget everything, which makes him half porn king and half mad scientist.

Snort.

Thank you, Benjamin, for saving the no good very bad awful miserable fucked up day. I love you.