What once was a girlAcqua Di Gio. Back when I was a child it was Azzaro. Not sure why, but he likes the very clean scents for aftershave and never bit into the craze for whatever was popular.
Is now just a ghost
Is now just a ghost
And everyone knows it
Seen it before
And we watched her explode
Yeah, a high and a low
But nobody shows it
Nothing hurts worse
Than a hope that's deferred
Don't let it slip away
See you shining under the shame
I can still taste it.
Ben put his hands on my shoulders. He was standing behind me silently. Possession? I can feel the stare, I just can't see it. A kiss landed on top of my head, hard. Resignation. I was mistaken. He turns and leaves the room and I am lighter in weight but heavier in heart.
Caleb has come back downstairs from Henry's room from their quick goodnight tuck-in time. I watch him unbutton a button at his neck. The tie is hanging out of his pants pocket, his sleeves are rolled up. Pale grey shirt, black pants, black socks because I make everyone take their shoes off in the front hall. The endless acres of white carpet require it. I'll be damned if I'm going to clean this house more often than it needs it simply because they want to wander around it with footwear on. The exceptions are my high heels because I need those precious meters to see if I can walk or if I should return for a more reasonable pair, and Ben, who is too preoccupied most of the time to pay attention and did not make it to this age to follow rules.
Except for these ones.
I'm drowning in the fucking aftershave. I can bite it. It isn't strong. He is just close and it was applied recently. I'm thinking he showered and changed and then came over. It saves him time and time is such a precious commodity to me I left my soul where I sold it and opted for visiting hours instead.
His concern is evident. My disdain apparent. Checkmate.
We should talk.
Is there anything left to talk about?
You still talk to Lochlan, don't you? It's been longer.
Jesus, you're something else. He has just as much blame to share in as I do.
I shake my head.
I cannot believe that you don't see that. I thought for sure as you got older...
You had no idea you would still be in my life!
Cole did a fine job keeping me away most of the time.
I should have left well enough alone.
I'm glad you didn't. He is smiling at me. Every single day I am struck by how much contact they have with each other, my boys. Calls, letters, then emails. Meetings, sometimes here, sometimes far from where we are. A bond that I love to imagine they forged in the woods, stricken with cold and honor, clinking their armor as they all put their hands to the center, gauntlets touching to seal a promise.
(Oh, well, shit. Snap back to reality, why don't you, Bridget.)
Things would be easier.
Sure, if you liked remaining in that cold city alone, with the boys traveling.
Fine. You win. You're right. Happy now?
Always, when I am with you. I'm happy that I can be an active part of the children's lives. Of your life.
(Fantasy Bridget has decided he must have had the fastest horse, or something. Maybe enchanted armor or an epic mount. Spells that he put the others under in order to be a part of our lives.)
I nod and abruptly tell him I'm not feeling well and he frowns.
Then I won't stay long.
I nod again. Sometimes I wish he would just explode into a million fragments of evil that I could sweep out the door and other times I wish he didn't look so much like Cole in near-darkness.
When he leaves I am sick to my stomach. Not because I refuse to say goodbye anymore but because the aftershave has made my head pound and twist and it's all I can do to race back upstairs in time to let out the tension.