Would you, Bridget? Would you miss me if I died?
Lochlan's arms go around me and his fingers are over mine at the keyboard but I block him and push backward until I am away from the desk and he is far from my words. Hurt films his eyes. He waits for me to go first.
You can't have that. That's Jacob's.
Yes. I'm sorry. Wait, no, I'm not. Please don't do it again.
I am formal and that would hurt more than anything else. I fight his stability, his unwillingness to follow me into the velocity of my emotions. I turn around when it's safe and he's not there. It's not a question of needing him to do it, it's a question of him not being so fucking perfect all the time. The only time you ever see a hint of imperfection is when he's frustrated. It isn't fair. I fell for his maturity and I stayed for his curls. He always has his arms out for me but he also always thinks I can do better.
My response to that is to do less well, just to be a little shit.
It changes with the weather. He is the fair-weather boy, after all. Make hay while the sun shines, Bridgie. Count the stacks later when there's no more to be had. Smile big and they'll empty their pockets. Smile big and you won't be hungry tonight.
He won't ask the question of me. He wouldn't dare. And yet it sits there between us like it sits between every boy I know, Ben included. Men who want to leave behind someone who loved them so much they cease to function properly, forever broken. It's an ego thing. It's a wonderment.
I don't answer that. I can't tell them how it feels. I don't know yet. It's not the same for Cole and Jacob. There's no equal division of grief there, honestly. Doesn't mean it hurts any less, it just means it's different for everyone. I don't plan to find out for sure though. Not for another fifty years and I'm too deaf to hear the news. Should I be so lucky as to make it that far.
* * *
Caleb arrived mid-afternoon. Clearly I am in trouble. I contacted his usual pilot to enquire after some flight times, specifically hours to prepare, the shortest notice I can give him, and how much involvement Caleb needs in my plans.
What I don't realize is that the boys have grown smarter over the years as I dumb right out and they are ready for this. The pilot calls Caleb and relays most of my conversation and most likely will receive a well-deserved bonus for his loyalty and I am clearly grounded. The upcoming week will be spent here as much as running away from my head and running from their faces would somehow make it easier because then I am distracted and I don't have to watch my mind inflict more punishment on my heart.
This is one of the first times they beat me to my own plans and I am rather surprised and completely speechless, as I have been able to slip between them and take off running as long as I can remember and suddenly I'm the one being stapled to the floor and they've checked and rechecked the locks on the door and there isn't even any point in fighting. I'm not going to be able to run.
The fluttering is ramping up. I am self-checking, watching my hands when I talk, when I clear the dishes, when I'm walking to the table and back. Lochlan is too and he really really hates the helpless fingers in the air searching for something to hold on to. He grabs my hand when I walk by and pulls me into his lap. Squeeze. I'm resistant. It's been a long day. Hell, it's been a long fall and we have as usual only gotten along when we can touch only I haven't touched him because I look for focus and that isn't Lochlan and the words aren't either right now.
I'm giving myself permission to be okay with that. Cut me some slack. I could have been in New Zealand by now. Still might, if I can find a break in the boys to slip through when they're looking the other way. Problem is, they never are.