Thursday, 30 September 2010

Good people.

Spent the morning in court. The arbitrator has labelled Caleb and I high-conflict parents. She said that's just extraordinary considering we've never been married to each other and really for the resources and the support we have at our disposal we should have our acts together a little better than this. That this case was being handed unconventionally because we're an unconventional family. She then yelled for forty-five minutes about how we could do better.

And that we are immature and self-indulgent, that we have failed to put the children first.

I was fine with all of the labels up until those last eight words and then I lost my shit and interrupted her.

I'm a good mother.

I have no doubt, Mrs. Reilly. But you need to be a good person. You cannot allow your extracurricular relationships to supersede the needs of your immediate family. Parenting is not a part-time job.

I shook my head vehemently but she just. kept. talking.

I stopped responding after that, and she softened just enough. I really don't care what sort of bias she holds against how I live my life. It has nothing to do with Henry, short of giving him male influence and support where otherwise there would have been none. She thinks I'm out running around the city going to Eyes Wide Shut parties and sleeping with all of my friends and I'm not but I am secure in the fact that my lawyers and Caleb's lawyers know what's going on and she needs to spend a little more time on our files before she decides how horrible I am.

Caleb probably already paid her off. My lawyer has filed to allow new arbitration because this one is not objective enough to oversee this delicate operation.

Had Caleb not decided to suddenly start making good on his threats of challenging our arrangements in the first place none of this would be necessary at all, but last night after begging me for an hour of my time (for reasons I still don't understand), he was a no-show, not calling or texting or anything and then this morning I get an eleventh hour invitation to appear at the offices for a full review of our custody plan via mediation, agreed upon by all the lawyers collectively because it's Friday tomorrow and they have weekend tee times or something similarly asinine.


But you know what? I haven't done anything wrong. I don't threaten Caleb. I've never told him that I would keep Henry from him. I've never used him for anything. I've never made his life difficult. So I'm going to hold my head high and choose not to be threatened by this because if push comes to shove I have trump cards I can play now. I have all of that evidence that he harasses me and he is cocky enough to assume I won't use it. I have security in that when I have had enough of this all I have to do is turn on that light and the symbol will play into the night sky summoning the real hero who can save the day because at the end of it, Caleb is a small fish in a big pond.

I have Batman.

He's a big fish.

(And I'm a good person, I swear to God, I am.)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Aghost (Like aghast, but more transparent).

A drive.


What the fuck, princess.

It's just a drive. Maybe he wants to apologize. Things got out of hand.


Forget it.

This is total bullshit.

Ben and Lochlan are talking over each other and I'm just standing there holding my phone with the email pulled up. The one from Caleb inviting me for a drive so we can talk. Just talk. One drive. One hour. Maybe out into the Valley and back or up toward the ski hills. It doesn't matter. Talk without touching me. Listen without a legal team standing behind me ready to bring down the hammer.

Hmmm. I think for a moment and decide I am game. Caleb loves to drive. He loves his little silver Nissan and if he says a drive then that's what it will be. Ben and Lochlan are not game. They are the knee-jerks. The look-what-we-just-went-throughs. The only difference is they always forget that Caleb went away before. He went away for a handful of years there between when Henry was born and when I walked away from Cole. I brought him back and God, it was so weird and then it wasn't weird anymore and once Cole was gone he became Cole to me only he isn't but dammit if he doesn't just have enough Coleism to pass for the real thing and if I squint, if I'm drunk, if I'm low or if it's a day that ends in 'y' it's good enough for me.

Only he never showed.

I waited for several hours, giving him all the time in the world, but Caleb never showed. I'm not sure if he developed cold feet or if something came up and he had to put out a fire business-wise or if he just thought better of it and decided it was too soon (it is) but he didn't come.

No one ever stands me up. I am in tears and this is ridiculous because he's a dangerous, obsessive psychopath and he shouldn't be anywhere near me ever.

He is also Cole, he is history, and he is dad to one of my children. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I just wanted the part where he holds custody of my youngest child over my head like a flaming guillotine to go away. The scary parts where he does not have himself under control? Away, please, quickly, I am afraid.

Everything else can be left well enough alone.

Going to bed now.

Fuck it.

Riding the Subway.

Last minute stop for lunch. We're starving. Out of energy, out of time. Okay, Subway it is. It's always empty, always good though so we pull in and run inside and all I'm thinking is fooooooood. I need foooooood. So I ask for a foot-long sandwich. On parmesan oregano bread. No way in hell I could eat all that but I may try. Suddenly there's a lineup a mile long behind us. Phew. Got here just in time, Toasted? Yes, please. And to go, we're not eating here. We'll take them home.

Everyone watches as the bill is tallied. Ben is paying and he says really loudly,

You got a foot-long? Jesus, Bridge. You should have told me how hard-up you were before we left the house. I could have given you a footlong.

Only he said it with that grin just as I had taken a sip of my rootbeer. Oh woes, out my nose it goes.


Ow. It hurt.

(Not as much as a footl-oh hell, you know how this goes.)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Okay, Internet? Stop worrying. I'm not naive enough to think that this is the end of my woes. Not by any means. But maybe it's the beginning of the end of them. Let's just go with that. Caleb has his entire life invested in me being his singular focus, don't think I'm dumb enough to imagine a world where he just walks away from all that.

Also? Secrets. We've got 'em. Jesus help me.

In other news? Ben. Vacation. On it.

On him?

You betcha.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Abdicating evil.

What a difference a day brings, though I think I knew on Saturday, today has brought a bit of a deeper sigh of relief all around.


He can no longer threaten me. He can't threaten Henry, he can't do a damn thing except for run this magnificent business with the flair he has shown thus far, and be a good father when he feels like it, since Henry is already rich in fathers and doesn't need more.

He can't touch me anymore. Saturday's threats were a final taunt. He already knew it was over.

It will be a tense symmetry like it has always been. The boys will continue to farm their talents collectively and the harvest will be split equally. The relationship will remain cordial, effective and friendly. I still need to be able to deal with Caleb. I still will be working for him. The difference is he won't be able to hold my son over my head in order to spend time with me doing things he has no business doing.

I already have a husband. And frankly I have a boyfriend too, sometimes. That's enough. That might be too much for some of you but that's okay because this isn't your life, it's mine. And when I got the call from my lawyers today telling me that Caleb has agreed to my terms and the only counterpoint he requested is that he not be referred to as Satan hereafter in my writing or in person, I jumped for joy. If you know me, I don't do that. I never do that.

No more devil references? I think I can manage that. Unless they meant in all languages, and then I'm probably screwed.

One thing we're going to do is leave history buried in an unsuccessful cornfield in Eastern Canada, because some dogs are better left sleeping. Even Lochlan is fine with that. Good, because I really can't manage more than one event at a time anymore.

It took me a very long time to gather up my proof. Letters, emails, notes, witnesses, phone calls, video. Some of it was legal, some of it was not but Caleb's reputation means an awful lot to him and he did not wish to refute anything I had. He didn't wish to have his debaucheries aired in a more public eye, and he didn't wish to acknowledge how incredibly myopic he had become.

All of it was presented to his legal team. And then he was advised how to proceed. But he's a lawyer. He already knew. It just took a jury of his peers and a set of closed doors to really hammer home how tenuous his life, his career was becoming thanks to his obsession with his sister-in-law. He needed a very loud and persistent wake-up call. It has come. This is finished.

Maybe I was just lucky. I like to think I am. I put myself in some awful positions recently but it was time. Enough was enough. And I'm okay. I'm relieved. I will deal with my own proclivities concerning Caleb and my memories of Cole the best I can. That wasn't the right way. Nothing about that was right.

But who is going to argue with me? No one ever tells me no. Ben will not start to impose limits because that got Jacob nowhere but he won't turn a blind eye like Cole did because then things just get worse. So Ben acknowledges and allows and he fights with me anyway and then he worries himself sick and I couldn't do that to him anymore. Ben deserves better. He deserves everything.

But this was something I had to change on my own. Just like Ben said when he asked me to be with him: he couldn't fix any of my problems but he would hold me while I fixed them myself. Almost three years later he has kept his promises. All of them. Anything else wasn't a promise made.

I can spend as much time as I want standing behind my row of knights. God love them, they've done everything for me. Absolutely everything, fighting all of my battles, raising me, helping raise my children, holding us up when I have been a thankless, selfish little monster in return. Standing by me now as I have lost whole years being silent grief, unwilling to help myself or listen to them. Demanding that they fix this, fix everything, turn back time, bring me the good parts and make everything else go away.

It's been like surfacing at last, after diving into the deep blue ocean and swimming down until my lungs might burst and then staying there. For too long, until my head ached and I had not a single molecule of air remaining.

Rescue arrived and she surprised me. A petulant five-foot tall blonde with circles so dark under her faded green eyes you might stop and stare and wonder if she ever sleeps.

Well, she doesn't. Yet.

That might change.

(Do I really think this is the end of Caleb's provocation? I really don't know. I hope so. Maybe I'll just start with that and see what happens. I have to see him several times each week and I'm just going to take it one minute at a time.)

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Please don't ask because I don't get it either.

(I am not a champagne and truffles girl, and I don't know why I'm telling you this.)

I think I proved it last night in spades with my tilty, beautiful belligerence that led to an abrupt reorganization of my dance card and saw the devil ousted in favor of the carnival comfort. The original freak. The one who doesn't look like a freak at all.

The big freak approved. Maybe, because just like me he chooses the lesser of two evils, and Lochlan isn't evil at all. Not in that way. Not in the way like Caleb is evil.

But anyway, back to the champagne, which seemed to be interspersed with heavier drinks that left me cursing the French bastard who invented stiletto heels and alternately chatting up the Russians like I did this every day or something. I don't. Jesus. I'm a deaf little freak girl who lives in the dark in a commune full of bearded musicians and artists. I have few interpersonal skills and endless affection. I hate to cook and I love to love and...and I don't belong here, so yes, I will take another drink, thank you so much.

At some point I was convinced the stilettos were the reason I was still standing. Propped up with beauty rebar, I was. Reinforced concrete blonde. So thoroughly drunk and really not able to even string two thoughts together when Caleb walked me out by the railing and put his hands up to check for the hearing aids and then smoothed my hair over the collar of Ben's suit coat. Usually I leave my hair tucked in. Now it doesn't matter, it just barely reaches my shoulders. I curse in his face and smile sweetly, swaying just a little and he smiles and leans in as if we are sharing secrets.

All I can think is that I can't feel my tongue anymore. I want to laugh but I can't.

Having passed the hearing aid and wardrobe check I am held closer while I stare out to sea. I could will it to splash over me now, drowning me. Saving me from him. Instead I am treated to his aftershave, intoxicated by the power positively writhing under his dress shirt. I am fluttering and I wish it would stop, but again, more concerned with my tongue and where it might have gone and where is Ben?

I hear him. He is singing. In the salon. Just to my left if I can push off from Caleb and walk straight through the glass. But I can't because Caleb has me in his arms and I am captive to his threats, sorry, to his 'suggestions' whispered in my ear, melting it with his laundered-money dirty soul, bending it down with his expectations, all of which are just as realistic as my fucking shoes. I still don't know what Ben said to him last week or where we stand or if there's any reason at all for me to be here right now at all.

I square myself in his embrace and focus on his eyes. No small feat. My useless tongue seems to be taking my other features with it to sleep. My eyes are all over the place, but not in the same place at the same time so I plant my hands on his chest and nod up at him.

Lochlan. I am still nodding, slurring. Ben. Not you, Cole. Sorry, baby. I stick my finger against his chest and I jab it in hard. Twice.

He laughs. Bridget, let's go cool you off a little. Maybe a long shower. He has my arm now and it hurts and I am being led down to the master suite and I don't want to go but my voice is under my tongue and I can't seem to pull it out. I see the hunger in his eyes but it's guarded for some reason. He has another drink and he gives it to me, saying it is juice, have some, sober up a little. I drink it down and then cough. It isn't juice. It's whiskey and lemonade and my new grand plan is to make myself sick, though I'm probably about to be sick anyway. Not drunker, oh, Jesus, no.

Congrats on the project and my condolences on the state of your personal life. I amuse myself saying that in a slur. I laugh out loud and almost fall down. At this point Caleb is holding me up, dragging me down the hall, eliminating a scene altogether when I think I would prefer to have one. I don't want to be alone with him. My kids are asleep in a stateroom at the end of this hallway, and what in the fuck does he think he's doing?

He opens a door and thrusts me inside and closes the door. What? Lochlan is waiting. Lochlan catches me in his arms and then Ben is there too and I am safe. Safe. I don't know why though, everything happened too suddenly. This is Lochlan's fault. I point at Lochlan and I tell him he should have trusted me because if I love you I will say so. I thank Ben for allowing me the chance to love Lochlan too and then I hit the floor.

I wake up late. The sun is licking the edges of the blinds and there is orange juice and aspirin on the table beside the bed. Ben's arms are wrapped around my neck. I am hot and sick to my stomach. Lochlan rolls over and smiles gently at me and I close my eyes and fall back to sleep for a while. Safe. When I next wake up I feel human and Lochlan is gone and I'm not sure if he really was there or if my brain has simply made room for him. Ben is kissing me, asking me if I feel better, anxious to start his day with a bang (snort) and I still can't feel my tongue.

I sit up and Ben sits up too. I lean back against him and his arms go out around me like a cage. I am not sure if it's to keep me safe from everyone else, or if it's to keep everyone else safe from me, I just know that something is off, something is different and inclined to be distant, he won't talk about it other than to reassure me that I am not a monster and that everything is fine.

I believe him.

I believed Jake too. He said this. He did this. 'Don't worry, princess. Everything is fine, just let me deal with it.' And look what happened, Ben.

It happened so fast. I am pushed away from Ben. The lamp hits the door and smashes into a million pieces. I can hear people running down the hall. Toward the noise. Toward us. I turned to Ben and he just shakes his head at me, desperate. Frustrated to the point of no return.

I'm not Jake, he says. Why won't believe in me? We're the freaks. Why would I lie to you, Bridge?

Caleb bursts into the room and smiles at the carnage. His work here is done. Payback's a bitch, Benjamin. You keep underestimating him, and I don't understand why.

Friday, 24 September 2010

This wins worst post ever.


I'm here. It stopped pouring. I broke my finger when the fridge reached out and grabbed my hand, pinning it between the freezer and fridge handles which closed completely together and now my finger is all black and puffy and horrible and painy and I keep sticking it in PJ's face to say Look! Look how blaaaaaaack! and he recoils. And then my internet crapped right out. Then the cable went out and then @Shaw_Sean on Twitter got us rolling again because I wasn't going to wait on hold and use up forty or fifty minutes of my cell minutes to be told to unplug things I can't identify (A modern? Oh, a MODEM? Which thing is that? Lights? They both have lights. Is it rooter or r-out-er?) and Lochlan wasn't home to just fix it and then I collected the kids from school and just got settled down when the Welcome Wagon lady arrived! Because I FORGOT she was here in June and so she finally caught me home.

Now I have fridge magnets and possibly a vet for Bonham but nevermind all that. Seriously useful things though. A furnace guy. Pens even. Three new ones! I'm a serial pen-stealer. Ask my insurance agent. Or my lawyer. Or anyone who works at Safeway.

It's hard to type one-handed. Damned hard. And I have a huge headache and in two more hours Ben should be gearing up to come home and really that's all I want right now. Him. Home. With me. For days and days and days and days to come, right through to Thanksgiving.

That's all.

Wait. Advil. I want advil.

And I just made my daughter cry, listening to Relient K.

You cried wolf
The tears they soaked your fur
The blood dripped from your fangs
You said, "What have I done?"
You loved that lamb
With every sinful bone
And there you wept alone
Your heart was so contrite
(I should have written porn instead. MY APOLOGIES.)

Thursday, 23 September 2010

In my own sweet time.

Here's your video for the day. I am so in love with this.
What was it brought you out here in the dark?
Was it your only way of making your mark?
Did you get rid of all the voices in your head?
Do you now miss them and the things that they said?
No worries, no one (else) is dead, besides me, Cole and Jake and really I can pass for the living quite easily these days with enough lipgloss and my lowjacked frown.

Today is sort of okay. I am deleting your emails, doing some office paperwork and making large quantities of banana bread and testing the limits of the stereo and my neighbors good graces, though we have tested those already with the Marshall stack because it's one of the loudest noisemakers in the house (aside from Ben himself) and you couldn't hear him forty feet up the drive so I think I'm safe.

I'm wearing my bulletproof thigh-high black stockings and my you've-done-it-now dress. I mean business. Well, I don't actually. Actually I mean ridiculousness and mayhem twenty-four hours a day, sometimes twenty-six and I'm thinking that this is going to be a fine slide right through into Thanksgiving.

Why? Because Ben will be on holidays at last. Finally taking a break because he's been getting comfortable with near-exhaustion and really Caleb rides him like a....oh, I had such a delightfully pornographic allegory to put there but I think I'll leave it off because my mom always reads my posts and then emails me small suggestions on how maybe I should write about happier things/times/moods and be less...perverted.

Then she tells me I look good in black.

And I should turn down the music.

And oh, Bridget, maybe you should eat a little more, you're looking so thin.

Yes Mom, check this out.

Who is that?

David Gilmour. Isn't he dreamy?

Yes, he is good looking, isn't he? He looks a little like Andrew.

No he doesn't, don't ruin it for me, mom.

How is Ben?

That's all anyone wants to know. How is Ben? Slayer of the darkness, husband of the cotton candy princess, patience of a saint, appetite of a sinner, biter of bunny-heads Benjamin.

He is delicious, as usual. Some things do not change, one of which is my lusty appetite for that man.

Luckily the larder is fully stocked.

Snort. (Sorry, mom.)

In any case, Ben will be home for two solid weeks to rest and the kids are in school and really right now we have no interest in going too far anymore or doing too much, we're exhausted and still living in fast-forward and majorly fucked up by the never-ending, always evolving dynamics of life here and everything it entails, including a commute that rivals the 'drive around the goddamn harbour' in Halifax that we've never missed for even a second, and we probably won't even get out of bed, save for trying a few new restaurants and maybe taking in a concert or two.

(Mom, come back after Thanksgiving to read, okay? I'm sure the only news for the remainder of the month will be x-rated.)

The rest of you carry on as you were, bunch of fucktards. And yes, I know I never wrote about the other night when Caleb showed up and Ben decided to get into it with him. Ever think there's a reason for that? Well there is, and there's also a reason for my steady stream of Lochlan-stories lately. Don't like it? Go read something else.
I don't want this anger, burning in me
It's something from which it's so hard to be free
And none of the tears we cry in sorrow or rage
Can make any difference, or turn back the page

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Five provinces and eleven thousand miles later.

I can't change you
So I'll change myself
And I can't save you
So I'll save myself

So what if you remember me
You knocked me out with one in lies

I'm not the only fucking one
I'm not the only one
He learned how to ride it out in the field behind the big tent. In Shediac, where what wasn't ocean was dust, it seemed. He had bought the bike for a hundred and seventy-five dollars from some kid on his way to college. The kid threw in a couple of beat-up helmets and wished Lochlan luck after showing him the basics.

Hop on, Bridge.

Okay. Are you sure you can ride this thing?

Anyone can do it. Hell, you could.

I didn't want to though. It was a big old Kawasaki 900 and I was afraid of the noise. I would get on the back and Lochlan would holler at me to hold on and he would rip up and down the back roads, threading us around the potholes and sometimes off the road entirely, through the trees. I wrapped my arms around his waist and pressed myself against his back. Every time he went around a corner he would yell something at me but I never really heard him properly. I wasn't sure if it was lean with me or lean away from me. I still don't know to this day but Lochlan's a lot bigger and more muscled than he was as a scrawny underfed teenager so it's no longer an issue.

Late that night in the camper he said we had to grow up now. That we couldn't sleep under the stars in the back of the truck because the truck was going back. His father needed it to haul wood and so he was going to get saddlebags for the bike. We had to pare down to just some clothes and our toothbrushes. My hairbrush, he could borrow it. I would have to give away or try to sell my books, the circus snowglobe that he gave me, the portable tape player and tapes that we played to fall asleep at night. I could keep the walkman though, even though we didn't have any money for batteries. You never know when you're going to have a really good week. Any money we got would go toward getting the bike highway ready. Matt would continue to rent his camper to us in each town.

And so Lochlan got on that bike and he rode it fine with me on the back and he's been riding ever since. He's never taken a course, never had a lesson and somehow along the way managed to get grandfathered in on one of his out of province moves and is fully licensed and insured. He's ridden drunk, sober, in the snow and rain, in the blazing sun, all night, all day and through arctic air masses that wouldn't quit. He has driven coast to coast seven times and I believe at night instead of dreaming, he rides.

He's had every kind of bike there is. Currently out back there's a Harley, a Victory, a Ducati and a Honda that all belong to him. I dropped a Harley on my first lesson from the boys and never got a second but any time I want he is happy to take me out for a long drive. Sometimes I am taken when I don't want to go because for some reason he seems to need me attached to his back to enjoy it. Die hard, old habit, die hard.

He pulled my hands up to his face, kissing my fingertips warm as we huddled together under the blanket for warmth. The camper was unheated and it was the last day of summer.

I'll buy you a new snowglobe. I'm so sorry, Fidget.

It's ok. I love being free with no earthly possessions. We are nomads. At least for now.

Wayfarers! That's it, baby. I'm still going to replace it.

You'll probably never find another one like that.

I'll see when the time comes.

Many years passed (exactly twenty-five to this day) and this morning through the rain and the bad blood in this house and all of the things that happened last week and last night, Lochlan came back after leaving the house for three hours and not a minute less. He came in and shrugged out of his backpack and then his wet gear and then finally his sweater and then he reached into the pack and pulled out a cardboard box. He put it in my hands and then sat down to watch as I opened it.

He found one. Another snowglobe with a tiny big top inside. Identical save for the fact that the one I left behind was chipped and this one is beautifully intact. Ironic, since I am not.

Unbelievable. It looks almost the same!

And then I turned it over to see if it played music (just like my old one!) and there was the chip on the bottom in the same place as my old one, in the back so it never mattered anyway initials are written on it in pencil: B. L.

Just like on my old one...

How, wait, why did you keep this all these years?

I figured by the time you were this old you might have your shit together. I was wrong but you can have it anyway.

You knew.

I knew? Knew what? That you would still want it?

No, that you would still be around. That you would know where I was twenty-five years in the future. That you would do this for me.

Lochlan didn't say anything more. I turned the snowglobe over and wound it. And then I shook it hard and set it down gently on the table, watching the blizzard spool up over the circus. Driving all of the townspeople away and the performers back to their campers or tents. I watched the two teenagers run to the bike and jump on and drive up the highway out of the storm, the girl clinging to the boy driving, trusting that he wouldn't spill them to the pavement or put them in any kind of danger. That he would look out for her the way he managed to keep the snowglobe intact all these years. Carefully and with intent. He would find a place for them to ride out the storm. Someplace safe, warm and dry. Because you can't hold a circus in the snow, and you can't keep history under glass.

You knew too, princess. You've fought pretty hard to keep me in your life.

For the life of me I can't figure out why, Lochlan.

Me neither, Bridget.

We sat there and rode out the end of the storm, sitting in a tiny little truck stop diner seventeen miles from nowhere, eating chicken soup paid for with a twenty-dollar bill Lochlan found in the parking lot, warming our hands in the steam rising from the bowls.


Waiting for the circus to begin again.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

This would be the part where the devil and the rock star disagree.
You insult me in my home, you're forgiven this time
Things go well, your eyes dilate, you shake, and I'm high
Look in my eyes deep and watch the clouds change with time
Twenty hours won't print my picture milk-carton size
Oblivion was an impossible brass ring, hooked on the other side of the track to provide the faith in remaining on the carousel. I reached for it over and over again and came up short. Maybe I need a stretching machine. Or a second piece of cake, or perhaps a little more wine. The wine was taken away when I wasted it, however, letting the sticky dry liquid seep down between the keys of Caleb's beloved Macbook Pro. An uncharacteristic display of property damage. Gee, sort of like the damage Caleb does to me.

Are we even? Not on your life. And certainly not on mine.

I think I will have a second piece of cake. Ben usually declines his because the only sweet thing he likes is me. And I am still sweet in spite of the efforts of the devil to turn me into poison.

Up against the glass until the noise took over and that was as far as I could reach toward that ring. I had help. He braced my wrists together high above my head to the point where in my pain I was sadly grateful I might finally be tall now. He pulled all of my hairpins out from my carefully constructed low knot (barely held together now since my hair was cut) and let them fall to the floor. He turned the music up so loud I wondered if my ears would bleed and I paid for my insolence and my spilled wine and my inability to fulfill the loyalty he thinks he deserves. I paid for his obsession like I always do. The fuel for his fire, I am poison already and I tarnish the brass rings I do get, a caustic, gentle vengeance all my own.

Love me like you love him.

I am confused. Standing there pressed between the devil and the ice-cold plate glass I am struck by a sudden fit of giggles and tears. Pinned, shaking. The purgatory between laughing and crying. It was such a convicted whisper, one of those deep, guttural ones conveying nothing but pure want and I've reacted poorly.

He drops my hands and wraps his hand around my neck, squeezing it until the air is gone. My head hits the glass and the answer is in the stars now circulating behind my eyes.

Say his name, Bridget.


Tighter now and the edges of my world are framed in black and all the lights in the sky through the window across the room are swimming into a bokeh fold. I chose wrong. If I make that mistake again I'm dead. Oh, look, a fifty-fifty split. Just what I always wanted.

Try again, princess.

(Cole. Of course. Jesus, Bridget, you can't even keep them straight anymore. Forgive me but Caleb is no longer jealous of Cole now is he? So with that reasoning it can't be Jacob either. So does he mean Lochlan or Ben? Shouldn't they be interchangeable? Wait a minute. Would they be interchangeable?)

Caleb presses his forehead against the glass beside me. Breathing heavily and I don't understand this at all. I just know I need air. I throw my caution out the window and it joins the grudge I have carried here, perched on the ledge together now, swinging their bare toes while I die on the other side of this shatterproof glass.


I can't even get out his full name. Air comes rushing down my throat and fills my lungs and I'm sure Caleb is wrong but he looks almost relieved. The right answer, the obstacle for everyone. The constant that stands like a pillar blocking the smooth passage of time between the past, present and future. It occurs to me that the devil who can read my mind has no idea of the true direction of my heart and for once I have a secret from him instead of so many secrets with him, wrapped and tied with shiny cheap red foil ribbon in twisted bows, loops bent and dented from being crushed together in his hands. Holding my fate over me in the forms of my children. Making me do this. Making me be this.

What a monster. This is what I have become. All because I did something so incredibly selfish in leaving Cole to save my life, taking his instead. And now I am forced to my knees before ones who have been selfish their entire lives. HE CUT MY HAIR. I'm still angry about that. I'm angry about being here at all. This tears Ben apart. I'm shutting down and I want to go home. I want to see Ben, I want to be safe in a place where there are no wrong answers and he loves me because I am there and because I am awesome, in his eyes. Not because I owe him and not because he saw me a hundred years ago and decided he would deify himself to have what he wanted.

So everyone wins?

It doesn't work like that.

Caleb kisses me. Hard. My head is wedged against the glass and my precious breath is his again. My lips sting and my lungs ache for air and I can feel every last drop of what Caleb feels now. His arms block me from moving and then one hand drops and it takes my wrist, takes my pulse, feels my life. It is the single most frightening moment of my life because it's an emotional mirror to the way I felt when Jacob left and I wanted nothing but him back. I wanted him back so badly I sold my soul five times over even though it hasn't been mine to offer for a very long time. Awake for five days straight. But my soul is here with this man. All of this is his fault. He is responsible. He is to blame. I lay the blame upon him like a blanket. It is burning but he'll never notice.

Use what you have. Cole's voice. I duck out from under Caleb's arms and I take the long way around, grabbing my handbag and then the doorknob and I am almost on the floor, wobbling quickly in my little shoes, holding the handle to stay on my feet and then I am gone, pulling my dress down.

He is screaming my name but I don't really care. Fuck you too, monster man.
Now the body of one soul I adore wants to die
You have always told me you'd not live past twenty-five
I say stay long enough to repay all who cause strife
When I get outside I hail a taxi and throw myself into it, blubbering my address to the driver, who asks me something I can't catch because he is facing the wrong way and I just say that I'm fine and ask him to drive quickly, guessing at the question based on my demeanor and I repeat my address to make sure I got it right. Only then do I open my hands and see that I am holding the ring. It's not brass. It's platinum and Ben gave it to me the day we got married.

Monday, 20 September 2010


(Roll with it, Bridget has a headache.)

is on and the stereo is turned up to distortion level. I drank fourteen ounces of coffee this morning far too quickly and learned that there may just be a lifetime maximum for coffee the way there is for our dental insurance. I might be close to the coffee one. When I reach it I don't know what I'll do, but I know that I really looked forward to running into Starbucks Sunday afternoon while we were out and then paid for it later feeling queasy all through our movie night, resorting to curling up in a ball against Ben and fighting to escape into the film and forget how much my stomach hurt. I think I succeeded and I didn't fall asleep. It was lovely, actually.

Bonham doesn't mind the volume on the stereo. He is on the floor in the hall on his back with all four legs up in the air, quite resembling a sheep that someone has tipped over. He is probably dreaming of radishes and of other dogs' rear-ends. His two favorite things.

If I could sleep right now I would dream of a world where Ben has a week or two off. Hold tight, we are waiting to see if next week or the week after might be a good time for a little break before the next project, even though he has already started not one but two new projects at the same time! I believe I was good enough to Caleb on Saturday to warrant a little mercy but then again clemency from the devil is a tall order requiring a heaping side of grace and the laptop incident didn't earn me much of that. It earned laughter, because every now and then I will exhibit the behavior of a total brat and it's out of character by far for me.

No worries, Caleb did earn the damage I did after all. I should have filled his car with wine. Perhaps next time.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Magic markers.

Every light is on in the city now, it seems. It feels alive. It feels like all the people are these little carnivorous ants gobbling up the energy, the gristle of emotion, the meat of this night. I can hear the noise if I press my ear to the glass. Sirens. People laughing. Horns honking. Music. The low rumble of the white Ferrari that just inched down the street, seeing and being seen.


It's contagious, a drug. A fine light that entices me to come forward. Dance. Take your turn at the trough of life. Have your fill. Grow fat off the moment, live in the now, Bridget.

I am standing still in the center of the chaos. It swirls around me in a blur and I am dizzy from trying to focus. I stifle a yawn and grin. I am so tired. I press my forehead against the cool glass and wonder what the night holds, when the noise will die away, when I will go to the place that makes me forget that I am here, whether or not I will meet the devil or the angels tonight, I am never instructed. Heaven, hell or purgatory. It's a roll of the dice and I was never a lucky girl.

I turn around and Caleb passes me a glass. A sip confirms my suspicions. Hell it is. He apologizes and tells me he has a quick conference call that he will take in the living room so would I mind retreating to the study until he comes to collect me? I can surf the internet or perhaps write something in that infamous, infernal blog of mine.

Yeah, I can do that.

He kisses my hair and looks at me, waiting for approval. He is trying so hard I want to cry, but he has also taken my phone and my wedding ring and they won't be returned until morning. I force the smile again and take a sip of the wine as he walks away. All the way down the hall and he is gone.

I slosh the wine around in my teeth and then spit it into his keyboard. I return to the window, where I count the people walking up and down the street and hope for true oblivion. Writing it is only wishful thinking.

Getting there, well, that's going to take some effort tonight.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The same words. The same ones, goddamit.

I am drifting. Lying on a raft of weathered boards, tied to the dock with ropes thicker than my wrists. Bobbing gently and sometimes softly, violently on the sea. I can hear the birds. Stupid seagulls, replete with french fries from the tourists who don't know any better but mercifully have gone in town for supper. The sun bakes me into a pale golden hue and I am working from my toes to my nose, to make every muscle relax completely and keep my mind clear at the same-


I am waking up, loathe to leave my place in the dream. Ben is over me. He is kissing up my throat, his hands are pulling back the sheets, I can feel his hunger from the raft and am still looking for purchase.

Oh hell. I'm fully awake now, returning his kiss, putting my arms up around his neck, opening my eyes to see that he is naked and beautiful. I am lifted off the bed briefly and returned and I cry out and then that won't happen again because his hand is over my mouth and his lips are against my ear whispering to be quiet. He's so intense and he forgets that he can't be like that. Sometimes it is too late and I have to talk him back down from his black cloud.

We are finding our cadence now. His arms are locked around me and then I am pushed down and turned over and strung out on his initiatives. He is unrelenting. Sleep is for the weak, love is for the broken. Bridget is for Ben. He just whispers Everything is alright. I am here and you are safe.

There is no mistake. There are new rules. We keep changing and testing and trying life in different sizes and colors just like he is trying different ways now to make me scream, choke or tremble. I can't handle him, this. This is too much and I burst out with his name, abruptly halting his trip to heaven in which I am in danger of falling back to earth, slipping from his hands, slick with sweat and tears and he reaches down and pulls me back up to him, secure this time. Safe this time. So much better. I am in no danger anymore. I bite hard into his shoulder when I come. I never thought heaven would feel like this.

Not surprisingly, the other boys are backing Lochlan. Ben again wants to enforce the plans we made up over the summer so that we can have more time together, ironically so there will be less fighting, clearer definitions and no hurt feelings. Only look how well Bridget does when she has unrestricted access to Lochlan and why fix something if it isn't broken (but isn't it?) and Hey Benny, have you asked Bridget what she wants or are you just arbitrarily changing things up because you feel threatened?

Threatened? Broken? I look up, eyebrows raised in irritation. What the hell, guys? I'm trying to be happy, and that's very hard to do when everyone is pulling me in different directions. I feel like a stuffed bunny being fought over by two determined children. Eventually I'm going to have my ears ripped off and then no one's going to want me.

They are choosing sides. Loyalty to Lochlan, to history. Ben still reigns as the outsider, the new guy and God help him, he doesn't do anything to ever change that.

I argue that it's my life and they don't get to choose and maybe I believe in what Ben is trying to do here, maybe finding some peace and eradicating some of the constant tension would be nice. Why wouldn't you want that? They have reasons and they begin to throw them out, one after another until the tears are streaming down my face and even Lochlan says enough.

Just enough.

Ben touches the back of my head. He runs his hand down my hair and then my hair is gone and his hand is on my back. I am shaking, dabbing at my eyes with the napkin and attempting composure. We are in public. They have already sent the wait staff away numerous times, the restaurant is virtually empty at this time of day anyway.

Ben levels a threat at Lochlan. If he doesn't like what he is being offered he's free to go.

Lochlan swears and then Ben does the most frustrating thing ever. He abruptly stops fighting and throws an entire buttered croissant at Lochlan. Lochlan asks him what the fuck his problem is as the pastry hits him square in the chest.

This is bullshit.

Ben shrugs and throws a grape, and then an apple slice too and Lochlan warns him to fuck right off.

From quietly across the table, PJ wields a pancake and suddenly they are playing extreme frisbee with breakfast items and then finally Lochlan gets pissed off enough (he hardly ever participates) and picks up his entire bowl of fruit salad and aims. I protest, I'm sitting right beside Ben. Lochlan's not going to miss but that's a lot of fruit and I have this pretty dress on. Lochlan says, look at you Bridget, you're a goddamn mess anyway and lobs the bowl toward us. Fruit salad rains down everywhere. I am grabbing handfuls of the fruit off my lap and throwing it back at Lochlan and the manager rushes over, horrified. We are asked to leave. Ben is grinning from ear to ear. He's very good at turning one thing into something else entirely. He is unpredictable and childish and wonderful. And it's those same qualities that worry the others so.

He takes out his credit card and asks the restaurant to charge the costs for cleaning and time to him and adds a significant amount for their graciousness. The manager tells Ben he can come back anytime but the rest should not return. PJ is completely impressed with that. It was his idea. He loves that place. I could defuse it but I say nothing. I am still shocked and angry that they would gang up against Ben like that.

We drive back to the house in a caravan. Like a funeral procession. I am bearing pall and somber in my duties. I know what needs to change, everyone knows. This isn't new. Ben just needs to learn to approach conflict, touchy subjects with a less aggressive approach. Only I don't think he has that sometimes. We talk about it a little and he promises to work harder. We get to the driveway and I ask if we can just keep going. Just drive for a little while. Ben complies and steps on the gas and we are winding through the mountains above the house soon enough. I look for my owl while we talk. The drive is short though. Soon school will be out and I like to be there when that happens. I tell Ben it's time we head back. In short order once again we are at the driveway. Ben pulls in and parks. It seems like no one else came home either yet.

Out of nowhere, Lochlan pulls in behind the truck and gets off his bike. I am just opening my door when I hear shouting and his helmet rolls to my feet. Dammit, I think and I pick it up. Now it's going to have to be replaced. But I don't have time to think very hard about the helmet. Lochlan and Ben have squared off on the other side of the truck.

Lochlan has decided he isn't going to play by the rules anymore.

At all.

He won't have his access to me restricted, he won't allow for only seeing me when Ben is busy or away, he won't be told when he can and can't see someone he has looked after and loved his entire life.

His eyes flicker to me. Looked after, he said. The fucking nerve of that.

I stand there, holding my grudge. It is so heavy and awkward. I am straining under the weight and yet I refuse to let go. He sees this. He is so angry at me. I love him and I can't help this. This is the way it is. I promised my twelve-year-old self something and I keep my promises. Every last one.

Ben watches the exchange. It makes him crazy that he can't hear us when we talk without saying anything.

I repeat Ben's earlier threat so that Lochlan knows nothing is going to be different. I obey my husband because it's my choice too but I can frame it in this way and magically piss off the ENTIRE UNIVERSE in the process. And then maybe everyone will leave me the hell alone.

When he's busy, Lochie. When he's away, okay? I can't do any more than that but if that's enough for you then that's what I would like.

I go inside. I drop my grudge on the polished floor and grab one of the handles. Inside, I drag it around behind me because it hurts less than trying to manhandle it all over the place.


He is too rough, scrubbing my face with the hot washcloth. Cradling my head in his hand while he tries to remove the bruises and scrapes along with the dirt from my twelve-year-old skin, Lochlan is frowning, near tears but still composed. Barely. He is scaring me and at the same time he is trying to comfort me. We'll get you fixed up okay? Everything is alright. I am here. And you are safe.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The food wasn't that good anyway.


Family meeting.

Kicked out of another restaurant.

Blame Ben. He started the food fight when the voices were raised, when things began to escalate. He doesn't give a fuck. He just thumbs his nose at all of them and plays with his wedding ring.

More later. I'm really not in the mood. Unless you have more pineapple ammunition. We're incorrigible. Which is exactly what everyone seemed to be complaining about.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Monsters, Inc.

Caleb doesn't like it when I write about Cole. I can talk about him all I want, in a positive light. I cannot, however, relay any memories to the page because all of them, even the good ones, are singed around the edges, sealed with fire, black with night and God forbid I disrespect someone who isn't around to defend themselves any more.

I can tell you that was the first thing out of his mouth yesterday when the elevator doors opened into his penthouse and instead of having to go look for him, I found him standing there at ease in his perfectly-pressed Hugo Boss pants and shirt, with his perfectly messed up hair and his completely affected stubble, phone in hand, anxiously awaiting my arrival but choosing to begin our day as adversaries instead of cordials.

Bad idea, Caleb. I haven't had any coffee yet.

Little monster and big monster proceed to have a ninety-second staredown and then little monster breaks it off and stalks away to the kitchen to make coffee. Screw this. I'm here to work, not be told what I can and can't write about, think about, tell.

Cole was many things to me, and I tell his life from my perspective. Caleb is free to start a blog, if he likes. Then perhaps he can talk about the kind of brother he was to Cole.

I am slamming things around and it occurs to me after fifteen minutes of looking (slam!) for the (slam!) goddamn coffee (slam!) that he hasn't said anything at all since that one sentence.



I stop. I'm not sure I meant to be that loud. Maybe I did. Little monsters sometimes get really, really out of sorts. And then they blow up. My hands go up to my mouth in horror. I'm a statue. Maybe he can't see me any more. Maybe he didn't hear me. Maybe I just thought about saying it but I didn't, really.

I'm hyperventilating but my hands stay where they are. No, I said it out loud. His face. His face wouldn't look like that if I hadn't. That much I know. I am close enough that I see the bottom of his eyes begin to fill up with tears and then I watch his self-control kick in and slowly they drain again. He sets his strong jaw and checks his own expression. He's like a well-oiled composure machine and I wish I had an ounce of it to work with but I have none.

I am nice to you. I don't know very many assistants who work three months out of the year and make six figures.

He turns around and heads toward his office. My office. Our office? I can never go in there again. I'm sure the whole thing is on fire. He works comfortably in that sort of disaster arrangement. I would burn, my dress melting to my legs, shoes turning blacker still, hair breaking off in light sticks that glow before turning black as well.

Thank heavens black is my favorite color.

I pour two big mugs of steaming Mexican roast and head toward the smoke. It's billowing out under the door. I kick the door with my foot and in a beat Caleb opens it, framed in columns of crackling flames, his horns visible, sweat on his brow, tail flicking behind him. I wonder if Hugo Boss allows for a tail pocket the way they neatly sew the cuffs as to not have any fray, in a sort of pocket seam.

I swallow down my fear and enter the room, walking purposeful and slow, making sure I don't spill anything. I set one mug down on his desk and then continue on to the window and set the second mug down on my desk. Then I meet his eyes again.

I have tried to be nice to you, Bridget.

It is a soft statement. Defeated. Disappointed.

I do not buy it.

And suddenly my nerve returns. His soft unberbelly is exposed. Strike now. Do it, quick.

Bullshit, Cale.


Your 'nice' is guilt that comes out when you remember what kind of man you are. So then you throw money at the problem and you feel better. When do I get to feel better? When do I get to let go of the past?

I have spent my life ensuring your comfort.

Don't even.

Do you remember when you were nine, and I was halfway through high school? I asked you what kind of job makes a lot of money. That you should tell me and then I would go and do it because I didn't know what I wanted to do and my father was pressuring me. It was almost my senior year and I had to start looking toward university and the future. Do you remember what you said?


Yes, I know you do. You said, 'Be a lawyer, Caleb. They wear suits and drive nice cars and everyone is afraid of them'. Well, I did that, Bridget. I did it for you. I wear a suit. I drive a nice car. I make a lot of money.

And everyone's afraid of you. Congratulations.

I managed to spend the next seven and a half hours not talking to him, and then I went home. I collected my things and found my coat in the closet and stole a banana from the bunch on the counter and walked out the door, locking it behind me.

I think we are making progress.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Listen well.

I woke up cold. Alone in the bed, blankets trailing off the frame and across the floor as if they had followed Cole out the door. I stretched my hand across his pillow and it was cool, meaning he had been up for a while.

I got up and found his discarded t-shirt on the floor and put it on. It's halfway down my legs. Good enough. I walked barefoot across the wooden floor and out into the hall, the muted rain-light shining in through the windows, filtered by the trees, now almost empty of their leaves again. The floor is cold. So cold.

I reach the sun room at the end and push the door open. Cole is there, in jeans and bare feet as well, shirtless. Holding his palette in his right hand, brush underneath, studying his canvas. His dark blue eyes rise up over the top of his canvas to greet me and he smiles.

Hello, sleepyhead. Come and see.

I come around and he leaned over and kisses my forehead, hard. I am thrown off balance and I rock back on one foot before regaining my momentum.

The picture is black. At first it seems to be a series of jagged vertical streaks. Abstract. I can't make heads or tails of it. I only feel what it wants me to feel. Despair. Fear. Rage. It isn't a nice picture. It is nothing like his nice pictures, whether they be paintings or photographs.

It's you.


He traces the line in the center and suddenly I can see my nose and my lips and the soft ridge of my brow and then oh, yes, there it is, that errant lock of hair that always flips out just beside my chin.

But it is so dark.

You don't like it.

No, I like it, it's just so...

Nevermind. I'll be finished up here in a minute. Why don't you go make some coffee?


It's hours later, evening now and I am sitting by the wood stove, drinking wine and listening to PJ's latest tale of snowmobiling through the outskirts of the city, complete with close calls of barbed-wire and dogs off-leash. PJ can wind quite a story and I wish I could believe half of it but I know he isn't that reckless. My friends aren't, usually. Adrenaline junkies sure, but not wishers of death or certain injury

Jacob comes in very late, having missed dinner for being stuck at the airport waiting for his bags.

Hey guys, Bridget.

Preacher. What the fuck. The pot roast was delicious. Thanks for your helping.

Don't listen to him, I saved you some. Welcome home. Come with me.

Cole watches me. His eyes are still smiling but they have turned now. Inquisitive. Baleful. I look at him and he does that beautiful move where he nods once and then tips his head to one side as if he is about to shake it, no, but then stops abruptly. I know that move so well. That move is watch yourself Bridget. Watch yourself carefully.

I ignore it like I always do. He no longer has anything. He just doesn't know it yet. My heart got on a ship and sailed far away into the open sea and he hasn't gone looking to see why it's so quiet yet. He has missed the boat. He missed the cues. He thinks he is so clever. My friends are not reckless but I am.

Once we reach the kitchen, Jacob steps to one side and I hurry to the stove, reaching in with the big mitts to collect the pan, covered with tinfoil. Everything was warming for him, just the way he likes it. I load his plate. Carrots. Potatoes. Roast beef. I ladle the broth on everything, almost gravy now anyway and then put his plate on the table. I add a smaller plate loaded with bread and butter and then I pour him a huge glass of milk and put the tea kettle on the stovetop for tea. I know it will take him around seven minutes to wolf this down and by then his tea will be perfect.

He sits down and smiles at me and then picks up his fork. There will be no talking until he is finished.

I sit down across from him and watch. Lochlan picks that moment to walk into the kitchen with his empty beer bottle. He puts it in the bin under the sink and opens the fridge, looking for another. I frown. I think he drinks too steadily. Too much. He wouldn't listen to me and so I say nothing. I don't bite the hand that feeds me.

Outwardly Cole rules this universe. He is dark and creative and a true leader. He doesn't hesitate. He doesn't question. He lives so purposefully it's sick. Driven by something even Jacob can't explain. It isn't faith, it's compulsion.

Inwardly, Lochlan still rules everything. We fly that paper airplane under the radar. So far so good. It is rare but there. Once a year, maybe less. Sometimes more. We wait until it builds and then history starts to get in the way of things like trips to the library and breathing and then we go back to the circus, just for the day and everything is okay and Lochlan has no idea what kind of monster he is up against because I don't talk about Cole.

I don't talk about Caleb either. I act cordial and familiar with Caleb because if I don't it will be worse and I am traded to him on a regular basis for bankroll and security and a different sort of preoccupation for glory, unspoken but permitted because this is how curses thrive. This is what gives evil an appetite. Because Caleb won't go away and Cole has something in him that he let out once and now he can't put it back in.

Jacob sees all of this. My eyes are a television and my soul never goes off the air at the end of the night, flickering into white noise, a steady hum and hiss on the screen. It's insatiable, broadcasting all of my secrets to him with the volume on low. I try to change the channel but the knob is stuck and broken off, glued back on and forever locked to this. I stand in front of the screen and he tilts his head around me and sees it all. The nightly news, the horror movie, the carnage filmed for our curiosities.

And Jacob has a hero complex.

My plan is to see that complex fulfilled. It will complete him and save me. Lochlan is indifferent, cold to me. He wants the part of me he always loved best but he can't deal with the insecurities and the fears and the out-loud stream of consciousness that scares grown men into total incapacitation. Caleb isn't going to save me, hell, the brothers have hung me out to dry. Once the refuge from Lochlan's avarice, just-rewards because I didn't know how else to stick it to him at the age of fourteen, they have become the regret of my young life.

Redemption is sitting across the table from me and I don't deserve it, but I'm going to go for it anyway.

Jacob pushes the plate away and takes the mug of tea that I have put on the table, perfectly steeped, a spoonful of fresh honey stirred in just to make it smooth without adding much sweet. He declines the pie but makes sure it might still be available tomorrow if he comes around.

He has watched enough television.

You done yet?

I need to check on the kids, I'll be back in a minute.

Bridget, the kids are fine. Cole is in the living room. They'll hear the kids if they need something.
Are you done yet?

I think Ben is coming home this week. Have you heard anything?

Princess. Are you done yet.

No. (It's a whisper. I'm not done. I am paralyzed because I don't actually have a steady job. I have no savings and I don't know anyone except for the boys in this flat city full of violence and dust and this endless snow-ice. Writing is a thankless low-paying piece of shit. Sure, the cheques are big. Every eighteen months. Not enough to live on and I know Jacob makes pennies. You can't feed children on pennies.)

He pushes back from the table and stands up. I rise too and we meet at one end. I smile because it's comical. I reach for the plate but he already has it and he rinses it in the sink and then puts it down and turns around.

When are you going to tell them the truth?

I shake my head. I have my own signals too, know. This is shutting down, goodnight, bye-bye.

We can protect you from him.

From THEM. My mind corrects him. My mouth says nothing. Never ever ever tell, Bridgie. Just never tell, okay? I will fix this for you, just give me time. I am listening. I listen well.

Jacob pushes past me. This is done. For tonight. He is helpless and frustrated. I have Cole and Cole is what I know and for those moments when he takes my picture and I see something beautiful framed at one of his shows and then I realize it is me, it's worth it because I don't understand how he gets these images of the girl who used to exist because she became whatever she is now. I don't understand how to unlock her from those frames under the glass where he holds her prisoner but I do know that was the girl I was supposed to be.

That's her. No question. I need to stay close to her in case there is a chance I can get her back.

We walk back into the living room and Jacob abruptly says goodbye, thanking Cole for the chance to get some supper but he's got a lot of laundry to start and he's exhausted so he's going to head up the street to his house. Jacob's house is on the other side of the next block up, a pretty little yellow house that he has owned for a year. A whole year of trying to convince me that the grass would be greener in his yard and a whole year of me pointing out that it would be suicide to try and leave Cole because standing behind Cole is someone I never ever want to be on the wrong side of.

Cole says anytime, and reminds Jacob that when he travels I am like a lost puppy. I defer and say that I love having everyone safe at home, and remind Cole that Ben will be back this week. Cole confirms, he has spoken to him already.

Before you go, did you want to see the latest? Cole throws it down like a challenge. Jacob nods and they disappear up to the studio. I hear their voices drop because the children's bedrooms are on that floor.

PJ asks if he can have preacher's slice of pie and I admonish him, placating him with cookies instead. The pie will keep one more day for Jacob. If not, PJ can have it tomorrow. PJ's arms go up in a mock victory celebration.

Cole and Jake are coming back down the stairs. Cole is explaining the new blackest Bridget-painting to Jacob and Jacob is cautiously congratulating him on getting his latest inspiration out, astutely skirting the subject matter entirely. Cole is famous for having huge, painful artistic blocks in which he will stand there holding the brush while the black clouds roil into view all around him and he won't be able to put the brush to the canvas. For months. Those times are dark indeed.

Cole is thrilled that Jacob understands him, and sees him out. I call a goodbye and Jake returns it.

He is gone.

I know the painting will give him nightmares. I'll be having them too. And then maybe I will sleep.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Goofnight indeed.

Okay, so the wine had a bit more of an effect than I would have liked. Though I think they liked it. Hard to fight back when you can't recall your argument.

And in any case, I slept. All night. God love me, I didn't wake up even once, though apparently it wasn't for lack of trying.

This morning I am formatting the media card on my Blackberry because I KEEP PULLING IT OFF THE USB CORD WITHOUT EJECTING. (This never happened with a Windows laptop. Also, Bridget really needs to learn to remember things.)

And I have cleaned all the carpets. With the big carpet steamer-thingie. It is amazing. Everything smells good! Like flowers. Mondays find the princess efficient. Seriously dull even.

Oh, but I have news!

The movie theater inside my house appears to be shaping up quickly now that Ben is back into a regular routine (almost! almost.) They have taken down the paintings I had up. The entire north wall now appears to be a 200-inch screen. I've never seen a movie on a screen that large without paying eight dollars a person and having to sacrifice my shoes when I stick to the floor.

My theater is fully carpeted and plush. It seats enough people to put most theaters to shame and last night we watched Clash of the Titans (again because! so good!) and made pasta and opened a little bit of wine and had the most relaxing evening ever. Ben has a list of things to pick up (like a new receiver and other assorted technological things that I didn't understand a word of) so that, as he explained it, the kids can play the Xbox on it too, Bridget. Because I was all like "It's done? we're ready to roll? Cool." and they all said "Hell, no, we're just getting started."

We're going to get silver screen paint, and velvet curtains, plus blackout curtains for the window. We're going to get a big old-fashioned popcorn popper and build a snack bar. The Tiki/African theme will remain, everything in browns, wooden masks on the walls, etc. etc. I'm pretty sure I blathered on about this room when we moved in. I just never expected it to be THIS awesome.

I'll post pictures when it's done but presently it looks like Best Buy threw up a bunch of hardware and cables in the middle of the floor. Oh and nothing is actually hooked up anymore because Ben took it all apart again to attempt to explain to me why it wasn't ready.

I'm just. Well, I'm a simple girl and really the first VCR arrived in my life at the age of what, fourteen? and I've been charming people to make my movies play ever since.


And yes, it's a movie theater. Not a room with a TV. Full projection. The entire wall. I said the house was big. It's bigger than that even. Oh my God, the rumors are true. I sold my soul for square footage.

And after seeing Clash that big, I'm not sorry.

(The BlackBerry is fixed! All hail copy & paste. Thank you Lochlan.)

Sunday, 12 September 2010

alrtightpresent. I am!

Oh hello. I'm sorry, I can't type right now. It's rainign and the power keeps going out and the wine keeps going and they're setting u the home theater which is pretyy cool ineven though I don't like spending money all that much really. It's okay though. It rains ALOT.

BEnw as home all weekend and he never let go of me. That I like and it's worth more than meony. Hes awesome. :) goofnight?

Saturday, 11 September 2010


It was a lovely rainy day to wake up slow, walk the dog while I was still in pajamas and then climb back into my warm bed with the big sleepy guy still wedged firmly in the middle and drift off again in his arms, only to wake a few hours later to my surprise. I made coffee, croissants, and hugs for breakfast and we lingered forever before deciding to go for a drive. Sometimes it's nice to just get away for the day.

So we did and now we are home early and winding down from a day that involved having no commitments at all save for the one we made to each other. I'm off now to make tea with honey and probably fall asleep on Ben's shoulder while we watch a movie.

Tomorrow I am hoping for more of the same.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Is it Friday yet?

Here's a ramble. People seem to get concerned when I don't really post much.

I am drinking reheated eleven-hour-old coffee (I passed a coffee shop no less than nine times today), listening to Seventh Void cut with High Holy Days and Bif Naked and thinking to make spaghetti for dinner, possibly pizza if no one wants a heavy meal. I'd like a large glass of wine and a deep breath, for today brought the most energy I have had in four weeks.

Routine is a fickle sort of relief. We're barely back into the school year and I find myself thoroughly annoyed by everything from lunches that come back uneaten to last minute party invitations and Other Parents, in general.

Sigh. I am working furiously on being less judgmental. I am losing the battle.

In other news, the grapes are gone. Yes, all of them. There's a black squirrel who was here all last week treating the vineyard as his own personal farm market. We did get to try the grapes and they were wonderful and next year step number one will be installing netting over the top of the arbor to keep out the critters.

I still have the tomatoes to look forward to. And the oranges too. And the dahlias are coming back, the roses never stop blooming and all I have to do is look out the windows and I am smiling because everything is so beautiful.

We were caught in a monsoon today and I'm getting smarter. When I left the house I grabbed the children's umbrellas because the sky looked...well, it looked heavy somehow.

I was right.

My weather-telling skills are so rusty after eight years of tornadoes and blizzards and no coasts but they're coming back nonetheless, slowly and with feeling.

Last week sometime Proud usurped Breath as my favorite song ever. It was inevitable, really. Just like I can pretend to like tea but I'd rather have coffee any day, even if it's ancient. Actually I think I'd prefer a steady diet of Jack Daniels but those days are long over so coffee it is.

I need to have some serious fun. We are overdue.

I need fresher coffee.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Ha! I have found a new way to distract Ben while he plays Warcraft.

I'm playing King Diamond Christmas tunes.

At full volume.

Let me be your monster.

Articulate, humanesque nightmares are the worst ones.

(Stop and take that breath and relax, loosening your grip on life for just a second. Taste that. Freedom from anxiety seasoned with a hint of rest.
Now go away. This is not yours. This will be served to someone already character-free, someone who doesn't even realize they don't deserve this unencumbered existence. That fucker isn't aware of how good they have it, they only know life as a bubble of sunshine and ignorance, breezy winds and plans best made. Did I just catch you trying to take another deep breath? Give it back. You're flammable.

Look, here's a leak. Put out your flames here. Yes, I understand you hate them.
Familiar is the tension, the low-level hysteria put aside only long enough to concentrate on something specific and then you pull your finger out of the hole and the stream begins anew. You're up to your waist and you can't swim. The water is thick with indecision and cloudy with hope and fear. It's undrinkable, unswimmable and unstoppable too. It covered your freedom easily and now it's working on your courage. With enough time, erosion will begin and there will be no turning back. Run, Bridget, run!

I can't. I'm still unable to take a very deep breath. My knees are positively shot and I don't know which way is safe. I can run straight to the sea but then I am trapped because I am not a strong swimmer. I am trapped because I am not a strong person. Take the fear. I DON'T WANT IT. Take my indecision too. Leave me the fuck alone already. I have been through enough.)

Sitting with his sleeves rolled up, tie loosened, hair perfectly tousled, six o'clock shadows playing across his face, Caleb frowned at me and rested his head on one hand, balanced against his temple in a painful display of exhaustion. He is slouched way down in the low library chair with his eyes closed and his left hand balancing a brandy glass in mid-air. It has been empty for almost thirty minutes but he's still cupping it between his fingers, warming invisible liquid gold. Maybe he wants me to refill it but I make no move to do so.

You look beautiful.

It will grow. I put my hand up to my neck, self-conscious.

Don't do that. He frowns. Don't even be uncomfortable with the way you look. Jesus, Bridget. You're beautiful. Uncannily so. You always have been.

His words are sweet poison to me. I'm not willing to listen to him extol my virtues when he didn't leave me with any at all. I'm not willing to listen to him editorialize my life from his perspective of obsession.

What does Henry need?

We don't co-parent in any sort of organized fashion. Caleb provides for the children in any way that I request. It's that simple. He also provides a pure representation of Cole, because it's not as if I can take the children to the concrete room where I keep the Cole-angel. They would be frightened. Caleb offers a Cole that they remember well. Kind. Fun. Permissive but consistent. His only request is access to them. Time with them. Time with me. Play nice, Bridget and it will all be okay.

It's okay, that isn't sinister or anything. Cole said it to me every night. Now it just sounds funny. I stopped playing nice years ago, as you can see.

I take my brandy up and swallow the contents of my glass in one gulp. It burns and I grab the windowsill. I gasp and choke and Caleb is there rubbing my back as if you can dislodge certain death with massage and I want to tell him not to touch me anymore but I can't breathe. I cough hard and then I wave my hands at him and thrust the glass toward him and leave the room.

Water. I need water.

I get a glass at the sink and stand there, drinking it slowly. Staring at my reflection in the kitchen windows because no one closed the blinds and I can't reach them but it's okay because the only person who watches me from that one place on the road is the one sitting in my library now drinking all of Jacob's ancient, valuable brandy that I didn't know what to do with so I packed it and it came with me.

I hear voices.

August and Ben are sitting out on the patio with forbidden cigarettes and herbal tea. I can hear the tones but not the words proper. They had a splendid argument when I returned from the airport with August because no one else gets a vacation but somehow August is able to disappear for ten days even though presently is a high stress time for the company. How is this possible? The world doesn't stop for hippie festivals and desert-worshipping but somehow he did it anyway because August puts life ahead of living. Lucky for us. He keeps his head on straight and his universe relaxed and then he can be a good friend and confidant and in-house social miracle worker here because Ben won't let anyone else do it and here Ben is strung out on overtime and his eyes are bleary and he has just enough strength at night to come home, eat a big dinner, play an hour of warcraft and ravage me completely before falling asleep and waking up again too soon and it's heartbreaking and maybe, just maybe he doesn't need to know that August came back renewed and reborn, smiling from ear to ear.

They made up just as fast. August is made from a patience we have never encountered before. He had Ben placated quickly and they retreated for some stream of consciousness that will see Ben psychologically propped up for another little just to get him through the end of this workload and then we get to breathe for a minute or two, watched by the others for any hairline cracks in the facade. Never mind that we have repeatedly presented ourselves to be examined with staples holding big ragged segments together, duct-taped limbs and reinforced organs, fibreglass spray and plaster dust in our hair. We hold hands and stand there grinning like stupid fools.

Hairline cracks, Ben? Do you see any hairline cracks?

Nope, princess, can't say that I do.

Guess we're good for now.

Yup. Guess we are. Can we go now?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Eleven is standing still.

This morning I was summarily dismissed at the door to the school. It's the first day back today.

Uh, mom, you can go now.

I can walk you to your class, make sure everything is cool.

It's okay. We'll see you later. Bye.

The door closed in my face and I was left out in the rain. It's okay. I ran home, hopped in the car and went shopping, only being pulled back out of the reverie (of not having the mopey twins taking forever to get down an aisle because they have to pick everything up) by a call from the school.

Mrs. Reilly? Ruth said you didn't know that it was only a half-day today. Pickup is at 11:30.

Well, damn. I thought I had hours left. I thought I had a lifetime left.

I was greeted with big hugs and almost knocked down outside the front doors.

We missed you, mom! Mom, can you carry my backpack? It's heavy. (it was empty).

Ha. They're only half-grown! So there. I still have time left.

Monday, 6 September 2010


Lochlan is where I learned that birthdays were to be dreaded and then pointedly endured and it took Jacob the better part of three years to teach me differently. Just as I began to get excited about them again for the first time since I was in the single digits he was gone and birthdays revert back to an odd sort of industrial-emotional obstacle that I'm never sure I fully clear.

I would try harder to deflect Lochlan's opinions on things but it's so hard. Too hard. Once we were back home from his birthday dinner and I had the kids safely in bed I returned to him. He pulled me into the bathroom where he proceeded to roughly scrub the remainder of the sharpie marker off my fingers from Saturday and then he steered me back into the den.

He passes me his library card.

What is this?

The privilege of borrowing, princess.

I have one.
I try to pass it back but he just hammers his index finger on it to grind his point home, a hole through the plastic, straight on through to the other side, baby.

Life is a library card, Bridget. You borrow emotions, events, experiences and then you put them back on the shelf for someone else. All of it is temporary. Life is borrowing love, breath, joy. Then we're done.

Don't, Lochlan.

Why the hell not? I'm in love with a fucking library book! I can check you out but you're a bestseller so I can't renew! Fuck your fucking allegories, princess. And fuck Benjamin too! I was here first!

I'm going to go. I'm not doing this tonight.

You're not alone. Why would you care

I have been alone.

Yeah, for a whole hour.
Maybe less.

What do you know? You've NEVER been there when I needed you.

Yeah, well then maybe I'm not worth it. Get the fuck out.

How much did you drink tonight?

CLEARLY NOT ENOUGH. It hurts. It fucking hurts so bad and it never goes away.

You made the call.

I know. Don't you think I know that, Bridget? What I don't know is how to make you forgive me. How to make you mine again. I've watched every one of them home in on you and then take you from me and I don't know how to stop this. Once and for all. I just want it to stop. How do I make it stop?

Go to sleep, Lochlan. You need it.

Yeah. Goodnight, library card. Check you out tomorrow.

Goodnight, Lochlan.

Like my pun?

No, not really.

You should stay, Bridgie. I just wish you would stay. I miss you. God, I miss you so much.

I am already gone. I close the door quietly so that it doesn't click. I'm sure he is asleep before I make it down the hall.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Anything to make you smile
You are the ever-living ghost of what once was
I never want to hear you say
That you'd be better off
Or you liked it that way

But no one is ever gonna love you more than I do
No one's gonna love you more than I do
Written across my knuckles in Caleb's neatly printed script with a sharpie from his big wooden desk in the other room.


I'm wondering if it will last through a few more showers so I don't forget, ironically. Maybe if it washes off soon I'll have it written again on my forehead instead because that's what they read when they look at me. Forgets everything. The slights, the betrayals, the violence, the struggle.

(Forget history, forget the present and forget about the future, for now, baby.

Live in your sweet circus fugue and everything will be okay. Life is a big-top cotton-candy bubble for you, the outside can't touch you, the inside won't stop, and you can make as many rules as you like and paint them, numbered on a huge wooden board that you prop up by the entrance and we'll read it and then serve to ignore or break every last one.

For you.

Because that's the way you wanted it. Your needs are like the tide, always shifting. In and out. Aquamarine dreams, froth disguised as rapid eye movement, twitching, aching limbs from paddling against the current. Scattered, random waves.)

He watched us last night because Ben allowed nothing more, the correction for changing my appearance without permission, reparations for scaring me so badly and yet staying away is something I can't seem to accomplish at all and so I am brought, vaguely tranquilized on wine and unsteady. Undressed, given a marker and license to let go of my thoughts on their flesh, assent to print blame should I want to, or make promises to be tattooed. I remember distinctly writing I wish you were Cole down Caleb's muscled left arm. I remember writing don't leave me on Ben's impossibly-broad back where he would never find the conscious of my self. I remember nothing more than landing in the soft sheets after that, Ben's arms around me, the way I like life best. I no longer held the marker. The lights of the city were the last thing I saw.

I turn over and gaze out the window. I am upside down, facing the windows and therefore, the water. Ben sleeps easily beside me, rightside up. Caleb is nowhere to be found. I trace the letters on my fingers and turn my hands palms up. I love you is written on each one in my own handwriting. I am surprised by that, and pleased.

It is a first.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Grace in Ben's dark.

Ben's head pushes against mine. A subtle nudge. I turn and his lips cross the bridge of my nose. He whispers something but I miss it because his hands are over my ears. The kiss takes my breath away and doesn't return it. I'm drowning in his life, in his hands.

Closer still, his arms keep me against him. It's pitch black. I can't see, can't hear. Oh God, I can't breathe you are so heavy Ben and then suddenly an exquisite agony comes over me. When I cry out the weight lifts and his hand covers my mouth.

Shhhh, it's okay. It's okay. It's okay.

It isn't. I am pushing him away, bracing myself against him, uselessly blocking his advance and he moves right through me, no obstacles, no hesitations. I am clawing at air and skin now, pulling his fingers away from my mouth, scraping his shoulders all to hell and still he is close and tight against me, always reassuring, always unapologetic, rougher than he knows, fighting me, pulling my limbs in until I am powerless, shut down.

Suddenly there is air again. I am on the other side, free to move, the ache is gone, the power returns. Suddenly every single hint of movement is bringing waves of a drug that I am addicted to, gratified for those small moments before the thirst returns, mortified when it returns worse than ever. We are matched move for move, depravities accepted, welcomed. His hands slide up my leg and I am crushed again as he muffles my cries, cradling my head in his hands, kissing me. Giving up on his pretense of gruffness and might, overcome with a tender quiet that surprises us in a way the violence does not, strung out on rage to feel anything at all makes for a derivative joy when we reach that impossible place where rage is not required. Through, not around. A welcome struggle to keep our love visceral, to not change what we have, what this is.

I am lifted into the air and brought back down, fresh blinding pain presented in a spectacle of devotion, my tiny piece of air ripped away on the downswing, a conscious effort to relax every muscle, the circus girl who knows how to fall.

His love is the shield and his history the sword that cuts so deeply the wounds cauterize before the blade has been drawn through. I am covered with scars and choking behind the grasp of his hand. I'm lost in his psychological landscape with no map to guide me through his hot and cold emotional display, ruined by the sweet tenderness that remains behind his brutality.

Every inch is then examined for injury, every hair on my head kissed, every inch of my flesh stroked and tested for bruising. Proclaimed good enough, his hand returns to my mouth and his intent to my soul as he travels the rest of the night fighting my slumber as a human antidote for Bridget's nightmare fuel.

This darkness does not belong to the devil to exploit. This darkness is our own.