All dark, no stars. The night doesn't give up her power easily, the sun is forced to burn all traces of it away slowly in the morning, leaving a self-protective fuzzy memory of the dark endured.
Maybe your nights are different, but that's how mine go.
Andrew blocked the door as I collected the freshly-opened Gatorade from Chris and grabbed my handbag. Daniel was watching movies with the kids, the night was free. Time to watch some puck action. I love hockey. I gave Andrew a half-hearted shrug and then tried to duck under his arm. He just shook his head.
There's no point. We'll let them blow off steam. You don't need to worry about it. Just stay home and relax.
I mean it, Bridget.
Yes sir. I understand, sir.
For my trouble I got a kiss on the forehead and a quick hug. He had to go. The more on the ice, the better. Ben is big. In his gear he is twice as big. The aim was to protect Lochlan but give them an acceptable venue within which to duke it out without seeming so barbaric. Nice.
The boys survived the game. This is something new. They're renting ice time instead of trying to hold on to leagues who quickly decide they don't like the way the boys play, in spite of their talents. Ben's a damn good goalie. Past pick-up teams were loathe to give him up but his temper will bring him out of the net, stick down, helmet thrown, fists flying, gloves off at least once a game and most leagues these days keep a zero-tolerance rule. Fight? Out.
They formed their own league and now they play for fun. Or rather, they put on hundreds of pounds of protective gear, glide out onto the ice, and fight until they're too tired to fight anymore and then they play some hockey.
It took about three hours. I was out on the patio wrapped in a blanket, watching the water in the dark. Ben came out, already showered and in pajama bottoms and a clean hoodie. When I asked him how the game went he said good.
I smiled but it was bitter, forced.
He's fine, Bridge. Got in a few good swings, even. We've sorted some stuff out for the meantime, I think.
I'm grateful they don't golf together. Between golf clubs and zero protection, I figure someone would be gravely wounded by now.
I went looking for Lochlan at four this morning, since he didn't knock on the door to say goodnight or anything last evening.
I slipped into his room and found him sleeping deeply. I bent over him in the moonlight and studied his features. He seems intact. I don't see any black eyes or any blood at all. Must have gone for the body shots instead. Nice. But good enough and he seems comfortable.
I kiss his forehead and sneak out again.
Again, I fail to hear him as he says I love you to the closed door. He tells me about this later, during our run. He was awake the whole time I was staring into his face. That's how serious a man he can be sometimes. It wouldn't matter how angry or bitter I was over someone, if I was pretending to sleep while they were staring at me I would burst out laughing just from anticipation.
Satisfied that they're both intact I continue downstairs. I know the only person actually semi-awake and good for comfort at this time of day is Daniel. I continue through five different doors and finally come to their room. Schuyler has thrown off all of the covers and sleeps hard, face down in his boxers and a t-shirt. Daniel is shirtless and in pajama bottoms, sleeping just like Ben, away and still, never moving, covers exactly where he pulled them up before he fell asleep. I crawl up between them and Daniel turns over, smothering me into his arms.
What's wrong? It's slurred with sleep and I'm grateful that he's awake.
I shake my head. I hardly ever have a tangible answer for him.
He kisses my forehead and snuggles me into a comfortable position, pulling the blankets up to my neck. Go sleep for a little while and we'll figure it out later.
I follow his orders and in my dreams we have thrown Jacob a birthday party only when he opens his mouth to blow out the candles black smoke pours out and someone whispers in my ear that his time is up.
This is why I don't sleep. Or throw birthday parties anymore.
We're running behind the rest. Ben has dropped back to check on me and I pull out my headphones and tuck them into the neck of my shirt. I am cross that he's interrupting both my pace and my song.
I speed up and now he has to run to catch up to me.
He pulls out his own headphones.
Possibly. You guys actually talking again?
Yes. Didn't Lochlan tell you?
I haven't actually talked to him yet.
I went easy on him too. I told you that already.
You guys are hilarious.
We're just arguing over the best way to get through this.
What? You guys leaving me and hooking up together?
Aren't you supposed to wait until I implode to do that?
No, this year we'd like to be prepared.
So you achieve that by fighting over me in a human tug of war?
Well, that's fucked up, Benjamin.
I know. I'm sorry.
You can't pull that shit.
I'm sorry, Bridget.
Yeah me too. There's nothing to get through. Just forget it, okay?
He stops running and I take off. I don't believe a word of their resolve to get along for my benefit. It hasn't happened with any regularity since they first met, there's too much at stake now for them suddenly to act like best friends, it doesn't matter how much water has gone under the bridge. At the end of the day this is a contest, and I am the prize. Only it isn't and I'm not.
And I'll keep telling myself that until the dark comes back again tonight and we do this all over again.