Sunday, 31 October 2010

Smokescreen

I'd like to go for a coffee and a cinnamon roll at some cozy little place, curling up in a comfortable corner chair, watching a fire I'm not responsible for, watching people who aren't responsible for me, being visible and invisible and maybe just normal for once.

Instead I am packing for LA. The keeper of angels in the city of angels. Why? Who the hell knows? I don't run this show anymore.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Wallace and Bridget.

The room is a pale sea glass turquoise-green, with bare wooden picture frames and a bed frame that was stripped and sanded and left natural, because it looked so amazing he couldn't paint it again. A bowl of shells is on the desk. Hints of his favorite ocean are everywhere but it isn't kitschy, it's home. The only giveaway is the set of vintage midway photographs on the wall and the photograph of a teenage Bridget on the desk, embraced by that rusted Ferris wheel from four lifetimes ago.

My skin is cold from being outdoors early, as the sun was rising. I snuggle into the blankets and his arm slides down around me, pulling me in against his warmth. A sleepy kiss crash lands against my ear and he whispers Good morning, beautiful. I return the greeting and close my eyes. The house is quiet, the waves are quiet outside his window, thrown wide open, wind twisting the curtains.

I reach up and press that imaginary button again. Time stops, but only for as long as it takes me to exhale a single breath.

I sleep.

Surprisingly I wake up closer to a reasonable hour and he is nowhere to be found. The blankets are tucked tightly around me, my covered coffee mug on his bedside table, beside his glasses and a copy of Infinite Jest.

And a note that says Sleep in for a while, Bridgie. Just for once. Love you.

Friday, 29 October 2010

For crying out loud.

He didn't ask the question out loud. Jesus, people. After thirty-odd years together we don't have to say everything out loud. It's just there but I don't respond. Stop skimming and actually read the words. If you're in a rush, come back when you have time.

Otherwise you miss things. Trust me. You miss things.

Every chance I get/Nine days out.

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.

A sentence?

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.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

You're such an inspiration
For the ways that I will
Never, ever choose to be
Oh so many ways for me to show you
How your savior has abandoned you

Fuck your God, your Lord, your Christ
He did this, took all you had and
Left you this way, still you pray, never stray, never
Taste of the fruit, never thought to question "Why?"

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Pretty violent.

Jacob and Cole would watch each other eat. You could have cut the tension and served it for dessert as far as I was concerned but the others would simply ignore it and mentally prepare to step in, because they would invariably resort to their fists to solve every last perceived insult. To me a fist is a symbol of desperation. It screams 'I've got nothing left. Let's go visceral.'. It screams 'I don't want to listen to you, I just want you to hurt.'.

Both Cole and Jacob are somewhere else now, but the violence stuck around.

I've thrown punches at the boys before. I'm not proud of it, in spite of the fact that it's akin to hitting a rock but I'm even more ashamed of how much they all fight with each other. The primaries (for lack of a better word) always seem to be the worst, as if it's some badge of honor to give a good friend a black eye and put him in his place. As if that one small, violent victory is going to hold. As if Bridget will be impressed with your ability to protect, defend and wound.

Bridget is not impressed, for the record. I've been begging them for years not to ruin my evening, my table, my perception of safety. I've been rearranging seating plans and screwing things to the floor and refusing to cook big dinners because eventually someone says the wrong thing or hell, with Cole and Jake it would be a look. Cole was so good at facial expression, Jake would read them and blow up. The laws of physics dictate that when someone over six feet sits close to a table and stands up abruptly they will pull a top heavy table right up with them. Chair goes backward, table goes forward, and Bridget goes upstairs.

I don't buy breakable dishes and I stopped putting candles on the table a long time ago. I feed people in shifts, trying to group the least combative ones with the most to decrease the odds and I have leveled ultimatums that should have kept the peace but didn't. I have distracted, deflected and orchestrated food fights instead of fist fights. I have spent hours on my hands and knees flicking shards of broken glass out of the cracks in the floorboards with a dull knife because nothing else would draw them out. I have mopped floors and wished for a crew with better manners.

I have accepted apologies and hugs for the mess. I have forgiven.

I have watched as they never change.

I have learned something new recently. Instead of feeding the children first so they can go and play or go to bed, depending on what time we want to have dinner, I set two extra places and the children eat with us now. It's been a nice surprise.

Moments that would have sent the table sailing into the air and all of my dishes crashing to the floor previously now only served to signify an abrupt subject change and a very long conversation about the merits of store-bought cookies versus home baked or something equally benign.

I don't actually believe the boys will change but it's been a nice reprieve to collect the dirty dishes from the table instead of the floor. Or so they tell me. I make them clean up now.

The boys, not the children.

HA. Payback that goes way back (with credit to PJ for the poetry.)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Part two. (Or: I never really did learn to read a map or pay attention to the landmarks when in unfamiliar territory, or familiar for that matter.)

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.
(I raised the bar and it held, strangely enough. I could step back but I kept my hands up just in case. I could still catch it, maybe. Possibly. Well, I'll just stand here and wait and see what happens next.)

Well, then.

I said I listened to Caleb's offer. Caleb was far less interested in seeing that I was well-fed than he was in having me for himself. Even at twelve I think I understood that but in spite of my daydreams about older teenage boys and especially boys with cars, money and charm, I only ever had eyes for Lochlan.

I wasn't about to consider anything else. Some days I wish I never had.

Lochlan was the sun and I was mercury. I revolved around him in a small circle, never far from his reach. Beginning with trailing behind him at the age of eight to wishing madly for his romantic attention at ten to running screaming from him through the cornfields at twelve when he found out that I had gone to Caleb's motel room and come home with all that money. Money I had not earned yet.

But Lochlan didn't know that. At twelve years old you shouldn't have to running from anyone. He caught up with me just as I reached the end of the row (I was slow from a beer and a half) and threw his arms out and I went down, face first into the dust. He turned me over and I started to fight. He has no right to make me scared. I'm throwing fists and he's ignoring them. I couldn't hurt him if I wanted to, but he's hurt nonetheless.

He's trying to talk to me but I can't have a conversation flat on my back in the dirt while I'll fighting to get away and so I cease to struggle and play dead, turning my head to one side, staring straight through the corn. He puts his head down, resting his forehead on mine.

Stay away from him.

I nod.

I mean it, Bridget.

He relaxed his hold and I turned, crawling away from him until I could get my feet under me and then taking off again. I remember hearing him screaming my name. I remember not knowing which way would take me back. It was getting dark and I couldn't hear Lochlan anymore. (Oh shit oh shit oh shit. Help me Lochie please I'm sorry I didn't know this would happen I just wanted you to stop yelling.)

I ran until the sun went down and then I ran some more.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

He was folding it. Paper airplane, fan, sailboat. I couldn't take my eyes off it while he talked, couldn't remember what he said, all I saw was the faded red and white fifty dollar bill being turned over in Caleb's fingers while he talked in those soothing tones he mastered from high school.

It was the biggest bill I had ever seen and I don't know what it is about him with money, he has always had it and I have always been fascinated, almost hypnotized by him with it. I'm ashamed of that but at the same time I have accepted the choices I have made. Hell, I've had to defend everything I have ever done at this point, may as well check everything off, or as much as I can before I step off the curb and that truck comes along and I fail to hear them yelling and BOOM.

Game over, princess. Oh, I should be so lucky as to never see it coming. However, with my luck I know there will be no such thing.

Oh, right, Caleb was talking about food, some place in town he had gone to with some of his college friends and how good the chicken was, and the mashed potatoes and endless bread. My belly growled, my mouth was wet. The thought of actual hot food was something that I thought about twenty-four hours a day, salivating over and I tried to understand when Lochlan would spend money on beer and he always told me it had a lot of calories, because that's the wisdom of seventeen-year-olds. That's the priority of seventeen-year-olds. Beer before food. Only I wasn't going to be seventeen for years, and I was still growing. I was still needing more than I was getting and I was always gaunt and sickly and tiny and tired. So tired all the time. If only I could just have toast with butter and honey and maybe a big glass of cold orange juice I would feel so good but then he would hold me and tell me next town maybe we would stay in a motel and order room service and maybe three plates because the next town was rich and everyone came out to the show.

The next town was always a lie. I wanted this fifty dollar bill. I would take it to the place Caleb told me about and get the food and bring it back to Lochlan and we wouldn't be hungry. Plus there would be enough change left for maybe two more nights and we would be ahead instead of always behind. Maybe I would have a second beer even though not only did it cost extra but it put me to sleep and then I would wake up with a headache and the whole next day would be harder and slower and fuzzyish and awful.

I'm daydreaming again and I'm so hungry and I almost miss what Caleb is saying.

What?

He repeats himself and this time I am listening closely. There is this money and then there is more. All I have to do is NOT tell Lochlan where it came from.

I am nodding. I'm so hungry I would have agreed to anything. He is incensed things have gotten this bad. I went from a nice little middle-class girl to a circus rat, an always dirty, hungry, poor, wild, slightly feral girl who can pick pockets and has to be dragged off the Ferris wheel when it's time to shut off the lights. Oh, and I am not permitted to actually pick pockets, Lochlan is scared that someone will catch me and he will never see me again.

I finish the first beer and Caleb passes me a second one, smiling. I get to work on it too. It's better than nothing in my belly. That much I have learned, along with the fact that it's William Lyon Mackenzie King on the fifty.

Insulin and maple syrup.

Visiting hours are from eleven until eight daily for Jake. We're trying to choreograph our visits so that he's completely sick of us and wishing for quiet. He says we are failing miserably. He is doing very well and probably will be home early this week, where we will spoil him rotten and watch him closely.

He has diabetes. Last week when he wasn't feeling well he was going into shock. As soon as it hit me I took him to the hospital for help, because Jesus Christ, if anyone else dies in my universe I might lose what's left of my mind.

I've been assured that he's not going to die as long as he manages his disease, better than he has been. I'm not sure why he tried to hide it from us. I will wait and talk about that with Jake later when he is home. I have everything ready for him and have even spoken to his folks by phone several times. I have offered to have them flown out but they are quite elderly and somehow comforted by the fact that Jake isn't alone. Caleb and Sam have spoken to them as well to try and extend the resources we have for their disposal but they don't want to travel and I can respect that. It's fine, I will be Jake's mom too.

One person who did accept a recent invitation to come and see me?

Nolan.

God love him, I wanted to get him out of the Prairies and out here in the mountains by the sea so he could see that we're okay. We can lie on the phone and we can lie in letters but no one lies in person.

I haven't seen much of him yet, between trips to the hospital and a raucous family dinner last evening and his fathering of Ben. Ben talks to him. Son to father (figuratively, not literally), they connect and Ben is lacking that. He can talk to the other guys and he can fight with Lochlan all he wants but sometimes a fatherly influence can really ground Ben better than nailing his shoes to the verandah floor (and oh, we all wish we could do that most of the time).

Right now they're drinking coffee and listening to Pink Floyd in the dim light of a rainy morning and talking about nothing at all while Ruth draws pictures at the table between them. I'm planning an early brunch so we can head in to the hospital soon.

So yeah, time to make pancakes and sausages. Bye.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Nolan's here.

SO happy he's here.

New-Jake is in the hospital. God? He gives me diabetics. I don't get it.

More later. Too many people here.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Hard reign (not a sound).

Ben had a fever and had gone to sleep directly after supper. I didn't think I would see him up again last night but I did.

He came into Lochlan's room where I lay sleeping lightly in the lamplight and collected me to take me back to our bed. Sometimes I head straight to Lochlan's room, dropping onto the quilts fully clothed, sometimes with my coat still on after walking the dog. I'm tired. Did I tell you that? Well, I am.

Ben took my hand and led me back down the hall and through four doors until we were back in our own sacred world. He unbuttoned my coat and slid it off my shoulders. So slowly. I am breathing evenly, watching his face. He is half serious, all business, feverish work, superheated fingers and a flush to his cheeks that I rarely see, the other half is bemused, still with the enthusiasm of a child discovering something that never gets old.

Bridget will get old, but perhaps not in his eyes.

He is not old. I see the same lines in his face that have always been there and yet they're barely visible. His hair sticks up in the front and he hasn't shaved in weeks. He's in his threadbare plaid flannel pajama bottoms and a t-shirt that's one size too small, stretched across his broad chest tightly, one deep breath away from becoming Bruce Banner. One breath away from glorious Benjamin-naked. One breath away from life.

Apparently I'm going to be naked first, as my shirt is lifted over my head gently, a stark reminder of being dressed by Ben so gingerly after Cole threw me into the wall. I still remember screaming against Ben's shoulder afterward and he felt so awful and yet none of it was his fault. He is still that gentle and that slow with taking off my clothes now and that touches me.

I am cold. Goosebumps appear on my flesh and he traces my shivering skin, smiling. I'm keyed. I'm wide awake now. I press my forehead against his chest as his arms go around me, leading me back to the bed. He sits down and reaches over his head with both arms to his back, pulling his t-shirt over his head. He pulls me down over him and I am falling onto warm rock. I am about to ask him if he feels well enough for this but I am silenced with a kiss before one word. We turn, he is on me, reaching down just enough to free himself and then he's inside me, fingers dug into my hip bones and I'm fighting him because it's too much, too fast. He just holds me tighter. I am willing myself to let go and get to that place to be with him only the white hot blinding pain is keeping me frozen in place.

He continues to kiss my ear gently, urgently and soon enough I am there. I change into someone else, I am clawing at him and biting his skin and crying out for more and he obliges with an appetite that makes my heart soar. I am crazed, sweat-soaked and pinned so hard underneath him I start to slide away and he begins to laugh and then as quickly as it comes it is gone again as he resumes a slow grind against me. Kissing my face, my lips, the hollow in my throat, biting my chin, earlobes. I am scratched and burning. He finds new ways to send me over the edge, held fast in his hands, writhing, pushing him away and then wanting him back. Regret feeds the crave. Bridget needs her Benjamin. Bridget needs to be thrust out painfully over the edge of her senses and then buried under a tidal wave of elation. Hell, Bridget needs to be licked all over.

Enough. Can't. Help. All of my eventual protests after hours of euphoria go unheeded, ignored. My knees ache. My wrists are still locked in his hand. He isn't ready to sleep yet and so this will continue for much of the darkness. Tears of exhaustion and sweat soon soak the bed. The mattress is dislodged from the frame, the sheets are torn off and at last Ben lets go of me. I am shaking, ruined and blessed.

I am whole.

His fever does not break until morning. He's feeling better now.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Turning tables.

Deep in the soul
Is the space I control
It's the one thing I can call as mine
Ben put Facetime on my macbook yesterday. I was able to call him once I figured out how to add contacts to my address book (I have an address book on this machine? Huh?) and then I connected and began to blather away, waving. He put his finger to his lips. Shhhhh. He was in a meeting. Would have been nice to hear that before I rang him to test it. A very cool addition to the experience but probably will be more useful once it moves beyond the limitations of wireless fidelity. Also hopefully the iPhone 5 will be made of rubber and clouds. Because the odds of me being able to navigate my days with an all-glass phone successfully are less than zero. Case in point, iPhone number one's untimely death in a haze of South American liquor, circa summer 2009.(Steeeeeeeeeeeve, make a phone for Bridget! Pretty please with gigabytes on top. In green too, please. I like green, but mostly I like indestructible.)

We are doing a review of tying shoes with Henry. He's pretty good. These days most of their sneakers have the stretchy laces with a locking clip at the top. Which is convenient and all but when I was a kid you had to learn to tie your shoes or risk breaking your neck. Now there is zero incentive. That's on par with children today having difficulty with money problems in math class. Simple coin addition. When do they see actual coins anymore? I have to work to remember to go to the bank machine and then pay in cash so we can get coins to take up to the general store to buy treats. Which is actually a blessing in disguise. I have moved to credit cards for large purchases and cash for everything else. It's too easy to have debit fraud and I'm doing everything I can to prevent it.

I am going to be baking our cakes from here on out. I know your vision of me as a domestic goddess must be cloudy and fading quickly but once upon a time I was a phenomenally crunchy cloth-diapering, homeschooling, scratch-baking hippie mother but now I'm just trying to be me and not some ideal that I saw once that I thought might fit. But I need to pull out the drawer where I put her and rummage around until I can grab a corner and pull her out, because the cakes here aren't all that great. I'm still looking for a good bakery but really I'm partial to simply good chocolate cake with chocolate icing so for the moment I will make them myself. Of course I can order specially made ones from any one of a number of bakeries around here but cake is an inspiration that strikes in a rumble deep within me, it needs to be an impulse purchase. But at least twice a week.

Lastly it's corn-maze weekend coming up and I am still looking for someone who can implant a GPS in me before I'm forced to swallow my blackberry in case, well, you know, in case they can't find me. To sweeten the pot I'll have a death grip on my children. Possibly we'll be able to make a human tower cheerleader-style to see our way out when the boys play the inevitable practical joke and disappear, since they can see over the corn and I can't. Then I'll accidentally throw pumpkins at them until they're a whimpering pile of suck and then we'll all head home for hot chocolate and cake, should I be able to find any.

There. That's what's in my head today. Why? New Jake is STILL talking. Even though he isn't feeling well again so I forbade him to go anywhere today, he's going to stay home and rest. At this point I know him well enough to see that he runs on air and has all kinds of energy but fails to really look after himself well enough to avoid becoming run down. He needs possibly to be stapled to the floor for a day or so and see if that renews him so that's what I'll attempt to pull off today. Failing that I have duct tape.

And Facetime, so Ben can give him a lecture face to face on what happens when one runs on fumes indefinitely.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Sugar rush.

New-Jake is talking nonstop again and again I can't really think because I have been conditioned over the past eleven years to hone in on my childrens voices the moment they begin to speak and I forget just about everything else so that is carrying over today.

New-Jake met us when we came home from checking on the horses and running a couple of small errands and said, Hi, Bridge, what's for lunch?

I already had lunch. I reached into my bag and pulled out a fistful of candy necklaces. Well, you didn't expect me to eat it all, did you?

So, you didn't eat...right? He's looking a little green around the edges.

You okay?

Just a little hungry.

Come inside, I'll get you something.

So he's now sitting across from me digging into a smoked meat sandwich on sourdough bread and pear slices and milk because really, screw the porn star (ha, PUNS, Benjamin), what every man really wants is his mother to look after him. Apparently Jacob considers me more of a mom and less of a porn star and really at this point that's probably a good thing.

Once he is fed I'm going to exact payback by making him walk up and get the children from school because what can I say, I'm all jacked up on candy and losing energy quickly.

I will, however, pull out another lunch bag and make him a lunch for tomorrow. He and Sam are doing some work for some of the seniors in Sam's church who are having trouble maintaining their homes and so on days off Sam recruits people to help. I volunteered for plaster duty and then said I was kidding but I'm possibly going to be helping with some gardening chores in the next several weeks. Sam threatened to keep me on the plastered list (ha, NOT A PUN, Benjamin) if I don't go help but I fully intend to do whatever I can.

I'm also going to keep my eye on New-Jake. Then again, I don't really have to watch him. I can just listen.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Magically delicious.

A much better evening so far. Seems like the dust is settling and everyone in the collective is either breathing a sigh of relief or that was preemptive snoring because we're all tired of the tension.

In any event, I'm glad things are better. Ben and Lochlan seem to have gotten through a rough patch, I'm no longer being impossible to everyone (yes, you, Andrew) and there was even a freezing jesus cold mother bike ride up the mountain and then a round of Lucky Charms indulged in that saw the end of a brand new warehouse pack box. Sigh. Groceries. That's all I do is buy groceries, break up arguments and troll for hugs.

But yeah, I love it when my boys love each other. It's awesome.

Until the next fight, that is. Hopefully it won't happen for a long long time.

This is why I am here. Nights like this. I can't help you understand what life is like in my house, because gosh sometimes everything is so hard, but really it's worth every second of heartbreak to be surrounded by this love.

Deflection and the art of quiet.

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.


Fine.

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.

You okay?

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?

Jacob's anniversary.

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?

Apparently..yes.

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.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Tamper-proof.

Today brings the Headless Horseman, an assortment of Hello Kitty and Spongebob band-aids and new pants for Ruth. I went shopping because she took her turn last week to outgrow everything she owned, while Henry did the same the week before. I'm also trying to finalize the print order for our family photos. Nothing eight hundred dollars won't take care of. That's what it's going to cost to get enough pictures for everyone and for everyone they want to give them to. It's a little bit insane. The pictures turned out amazing though. I like them. I didn't expect to.

My hands are okay, superficial cuts. Gravely wounded ego, however. Ben won't discuss anything. Lochlan is done for the moment, or perhaps he's medicating himself into silence as a survival technique. I'm being completely obnoxious to both of them in an effort to force them to make peace. So in other words, I have tilted at windmills and jumped a shark or two and eventually they'll either make up on dry land or wait until the next practice when they're wearing cups and helmets. Then it's pretty much a free-for-all. For some reason the moment Ben pulls his goalie mask down over his face he gives himself permission to be ruthless. I'd almost rather he didn't play. Or maybe they should play on different teams. Maybe they should learn to get along because this is the way things are and it was their idea so all of the struggling seems so futile and a waste of love and energy for that matter.

And tension. Who needs a house full of tension?

Oh right, reap what we sow. I forgot.

Don't be delusional. I don't forget the important things, just dumb things like numbers, grocery items I need and random pop culture facts if they aren't things I'm interested in. Also, my underwear size. No idea. Ever. I always get ones that are too big. I can't explain it. I know my measurements, they never jive with the guidelines.

Certain things bother me, I guess. Mondays. People who don't like music. Tailgaters. Gatorade that is sealed with plastic and then there's still a foil barrier inside the cap that requires PJ to open it for me. Lochlan when he isn't perfect. When he drinks. Ben's absolute refusal to wade into the current argument between Lochlan and I. Is he waiting for the game tonight or has he completely missed the boat?

I'm certainly not going to bring it up to find out.

If he is choosing to actively ignore our argument, well, then that's a phenomenal turn of events in this house.

Tonight I think I'll choose to believe that, and Monday can end on a good note. Especially if someone opens this Gatorade for me. I want to bring it to the game.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Bereft Saturdays (I'm not the only one stuck in 1983)

He held the bottle out slowly until it was resting against my bottom lip, his eyebrows raising in a silent question, offering me Stoli. Stoli at one o'clock in the afternoon.

I shook my head. He frowned and took a swig from the bottle without taking his eyes off me before resuming pointing it at me like a glass finger of accusation.

You're so uptight. You need to relax.

Drinking in the middle of the day isn't going to do that for me, Lochlan.

The kids are with Caleb, you can do whatever you want. He's baiting me now and I'm not biting.

I don't need that. You don't need it either.

Maybe it helps me cope. It's this or I throttle your little neck and go crazy wanting you at the same time. So instead I drink. Your husband does too, only too bad, he can't control how much. Sucks to be big Ben, I guess.

Stop it, Lochlan.

He put his hand to my face.

You write what you feel, Bridge. And it makes me fucking sad. Sad that I can't be who you want me to be. I never did enough. Never sought retribution. Never got rid of him. I know. I did everything wrong. I didn't protect you and I have paid for that my whole life. I took you when you were still a child and made you worry about things no child should have to worry about. I was selfish and now I don't get to have what I want ever again. Just rewards, hey? Karma for the guy who could have had everything if he had waited for it to be given to him, instead of taking it. And you call Caleb the self-gratifying one. Jesus.

He took another drink. I'm watching the bubbles rise to the bottom of the bottle and thinking he's going to finish it. He looks at me and puts it down, screwing the top back on, putting it up in the cupboard.

I'm staring off into space, fighting to escape from his confessions. It makes me so uncomfortable when he isn't perfect. Like everything is lost and we're doomed. If Lochlan can't deal with something, no one's going to be able to.

Two and a half years, Bridge. You don't love him the same way. I know that. I can see that. Just stop this. The longer it goes on the more you're going to hurt him anyway.

Escape isn't handy, this is going to happen the hard way.

Go tell your brother you're trying to undermine your joint investment.

He's not my brother, he's the only thing standing in my way.

I said nothing more. I'm standing there mentally drained. Lochlan is waiting for me to dissolve this marriage because I am rightfully his.

First come, first served. Finders, keepers.

Original sin.

Ben isn't standing in your way, Lochlan, I am. It comes out in a rush and I begin to cry because God, this is so fucking stressful and I feel torn apart twenty-four hours a day and they pretend it isn't happening and hardly speak sometimes and then other times I feel like an experiment that they are watching for progress, or maybe watching for failure, united against me. This sucks. This really fucking sucks.

End it then. Choose.

Don't even go there, Lochlan. Don't become a martyr like Jake.

I'm stronger than he was. I've been looking after you since you were afraid of the dark.

The dark back then was nothing compared to the dark now, Loch.

I know, baby. I can deal with it.

Someone needs to protect her from you. I go to the cupboard and get the bottle back out, unscrew the top, fumbling, the cap drops and rolls away under the counter. I take a long drink too. It burns like hell and then it doesn't burn anymore at all.

Protect her? Who?

Twelve-year-old Bridget.

That was a lifetime ago.

I am well aware of that.

Then stop it.

You first.

He grabbed the bottle back from me and took another long swallow. He got right down in my face and pushed the bottle at my hands and waited to speak until we were eye to eye and I would look at him.

Leave him and I will.

I took the bottle and left, reeling. Not paying attention. Smashed right into Ben on the way down the hall and dropped the bottle between us on the floor. Vodka and glass smashed against our legs and the walls and all over the floor. He orders me not to move, since I am barefoot. I wait while he heads to the kitchen to get something to clean up the mess.

When he comes back I am sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor, holding all of the glass in my hands, blood dripping between my fingers as I clutch the pieces tightly, blood landing on the floor in circles, dots that mark the places on the map of my life, to show where I have been.

I pack the glass into my left hand, holding it tightly, it is piled high and pieces keep sliding off. With my right hand I connect all of the dots. Ben drops the broom and the dust pan and reaches out, squeezing my elbow which makes me drop the glass and I swear at him as he lifts me out of the circle of sparkling carnage that I have created. I put my arms around his neck and look over his shoulder at my handiwork.

I hope they leave the broken heart that I drew to connect the dots. That was something I really didn't expect.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The love/hate relationship.

Caleb's method is to take what he wants, no matter the cost or the difficulty. He is gratification personified.

Cole's method was to share the wealth, permit and deny as he saw fit based on the weather.

Jacob's method was to stand in front of me, fighting my battles for me while I remained mired in insanity, unable to help myself, hellbent on forcing him to be tested repeatedly to make sure he would hold. He didn't.

Benjamin's method is to stand behind me and watch my back while I do the work, catching me before I hit my head when I fall but forcing me to get back up without his help, fighting my own way out of everything. Even when he didn't want to. Even when he knows I'm suddenly running the wrong way. As usual he does the opposite of everyone else.

Lochlan continues to live in denial and does nothing, attempting to live in a past that isn't ours any more. Pretending that nothing ever went wrong and then got worse. So much worse. Hoping that he would wake up from a bad dream only he isn't sleeping. Denial that saw him calmly, almost cold in his usual logic, take me by the arm and march me off to the library yesterday where I was locked in until Ben could get home to deal with me. Because I slid a little. Okay, maybe a lot. Ben can deal.

Because Lochlan can't. Thirty years later I still don't understand why he can't but he has no capacity to deal with emotional outbursts past his own, or past ones that signal immediate danger to me. Otherwise?

Nothing.

He has poured his heart out. I have seen what lies within it. So why can't he manage me? Why can't he deal with my outbursts or my pain or my hyperactive, predictable slides into total ruin like yesterday? I trigger them on purpose, in order to see if I ever get anywhere. I trigger them on purpose because I'm a masochist too. If I am feeling pain then I'm feeling something. He thinks I am ridiculous. He won't dare wade into tragedy or mental health because he doesn't know what to do and yet he is affected as much as anyone. This is simply how he gets through things.

It's frustrating to me, because I'm the emotional one in this family.

I know. Surprise!

And for further surprise and admissions today, Lochlan is wearing on. Wearing thin. He's softening some as time passes. Just not enough but I'm starting to see something. And I'm getting a bit better too. Thanks to time. Thanks to relocating. Thanks to Ben, who became an unlikely but welcome buffer between Lochlan and I, keeping us where we should be. Mostly apart.

The very first thing I ever wrote about Lochlan in this journal was about how we knew right off the bat we weren't meant to be together, but that we could be friends. Nice to know there are some promises in this lifetime that are so easy we can keep them in our sleep. 

Today he continues to tell me it's because he is perfect, and I must be jealous of that.

I just nod and say nothing, because it's his attempt to maintain that perfection that drove me away in the first place.

Ben arrived home just in time to see me throwing books at walls and cursing Lochlan a thousand times over for his refusal to help me EVER. After he was finished laughing he suggested I maybe try exposing myself to my memories just a little bit less rather than barging into them head on as if I am capable of withstanding them or some other foolish idea. That I am brave, but brave accompanies crazy and it isn't Lochlan's job to police my days simply because he works from home. So what could I do tomorrow that might work out a little better? (For the record I hate it when Ben does pretend-psychotherapy.) I said I would be nice to Lochlan. He laughed again. I said I would maybe not spend six hours watching home movies and listening to Jacob's favorite songs on his ipod until I was batshit-nutbars.

Ben doesn't believe me.

Not for a second.

Everyone else does, but especially Lochlan, who was very interested to hear what my plans would be for today.


Now do you get it?

No, Of course you don't. There is always more to our history but I do have plans right now so I need to go. I was only three quarters of the way through Jacob's music when yesterday turned to shit.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Write off.

Yep. One of those nights when everything totally fucking fails and I'm left in almost-tears standing behind the hallway door while Caleb tucks the children into bed because legally I am forced to let him in my house and because emotionally it remains the closest the children can get to memories of Cole. It doesn't matter how many surrogate dads, stepfathers or hunkles I give them, Caleb remains the strongest link to their hearts, and he is the one who shares my son's blood.

I am forcing my eyes open, head pressed against the cool wood because if I close them it's October 2005 and Cole is still in control.

He did a better job of things than I am doing. So is Caleb, for that matter, speaking in soothing tones to the children, willing them off to dreamland where monsters like him don't exist. I won't be so lucky.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Taller on acetate.

(The photograph-taking was painful, almost. I'm mindful that the beautiful brown summer has faded from my skin and I revert to alabaster marble, blue-veined and translucent, sickly thin and without my security-blanket mermaid hair. PJ didn't want to wear a button-down shirt. At the last minute, Henry's dress pants failed to fit him anymore and Ruth waged a brief fit, wanting to wear stripes instead of solids. Ben's cowlick made its annual appearance and no amount of convincing could make it lie flat and New-Jake kept asking anyone who stood still why he was in the picture when he had only been here for a couple of months, to the point where even Sam told him to stop talking and hush. Lochlan's hair curled, much to his dismay and Christian was late so we were all scowling in the earliest shots since we had waited so long the whole idea was almost scrapped altogether. 

This was a sitting, purchased from the photographer as a fundraiser for the kids' recreation club. Family portraits. Only instead of four, the children asked if we could have everyone. The photographer quickly suggested he come to us when I phoned to confirm our appointment and ask how much room he had for we have seventeen in our family, on any given day.

We all trooped out to the cliff through the damp grass and were arranged in a clutch, with the shortest people in front and the tallest in back but also in order of importance so somehow Lochlan and Ben stand on either side of me and do not appear to have the usual six-inch height difference between them because Ben was standing back a bit further. The children are in the front. I was placed dead-center (har) and Schuyler was vaguely miffed that he and Daniel are on opposite sides. 

It was a first, and I think we pulled it off. Everyone was smiling. Everyone was looking at the camera.  No one moved and blurred, no one photo-bombed (this is an extreme sport in our household) and everyone was still speaking when it was over. Kind of like wedding pictures, the whole endeavor was taken very seriously. It's a family picture, and we're a family if ever there was one. I'm going to suggest we make it an annual event.

And in the picture, my hands are hidden. The children are standing in front of me so my arms aren't visible anyway. They are crossed behind my back and one hand is holding on to Ben's little finger and the other hand is holding Lochlan's hand. It doesn't mean anything to you but it means everything to me. I had to keep my balance somehow, I was standing on their toes.)

Princess under construction.

Please excuse the mess and watch your step. Oh and this is SO NOT the design it's going to be. I picked something cheery for my mom for a temporary thing. Because mom likes cheery and she likes blue.

True to form the final design will be straight out of a memento mori because Bridget likes despair and she likes black.

-------------------------------------

Update 7:00 pm: Got rid of the blue. And the yellow, thank fuck. Never said I was a web designer. You can watch my changelog and laugh while I cry.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

See, believe, forget me
My playful thoughts contrive
Nights concede to reckless
Versions of myself
All my real friends gather
Stay my wanting for a shield
I can't see you real

All I hate and all I fear
I bring it back to you, do you feel it
The night is gone and all we get
A picture for a poem, and we lose her
At one point I recall reaching up into the air and pressing an imaginary button that would freeze time. He laughed.

It isn't possible, little one.

Yes it is!

He knows better. Don't say it, don't think it, just let me have my tries. Let me think I can do this. Let me do everything I can, and yet we are powerless. Time just keeps on fumbling toward the cliff. Never smooth, it catches and slips and tumbles in a roar of chaos. It will kill you and it will take you for a leisurely ride. It will be counted and spent and saved by those who have learned the secret. They can manage their time.

I can't do that. I don't know how.

People have tried to count it for me, and I fight back. Don't do that. Don't you dare. This is MY time and you can't tell me there is too much or too little. You can't count down for me. You can't count away from me.

Leave me alone.

Some things can't be taught, I guess. Today I am thinking of that moment. I'm thinking of another as well, standing in the woods yesterday as the rain poured down on my head. It was so quiet. I could see for miles into the dark, the trees placed five or six feet apart, everything covered with moss, unspoiled heaven on the side of a mountain trail. I was watching for bears, and yet I was watching to see if my brain would slide down out of one ear and go galloping off into the forest, never to be seen again.

It didn't and so I brought it home and shook it. It still has the rattle. On a good day it sounds like bells, and on a bad day it sounds like death.

Monday, 11 October 2010

City fair.

I think everyone in the house today is exhausted from a seven hour odyssey of turkey, stuffing, gravy, children, stars, wine, cake and television. They might sleep all day. I held court at the dining room table until the wine ran out and we went home. Ben assumed I was trashed but it was mildly so and I remained awake until I felt tired, ate something and took some aspirin and woke up in terrific spirits. That might also be because Ben did the early-morning dog walk and I got to lounge in our big bed, drifting on a half-awake dream until he came back with cold skin and then I was wide awake.

So now I get to have coffee and do laundry and he has gone back to sleep. I don't have a switch like that. I am like the sun. Up. Then down. There's no option to check out halfway through the day, though yesterday we crawled into the bed at three and snoozed for forty minutes. It was glorious. I don't feel tired.

For once.

I'm sure I'm running on artificial cheer today. Keep it light, keep it tight. Ben returns to work tomorrow and the thought of that makes me so tremendously sad but I do feel like I had time with him, time that atones for the winter apart, and time to reconnect as lovers that we haven't had for a while. It was amazing and I'm so grateful for it for and for him. I can't even articulate here how incredible it was to just hang out with him for the first time in ages.

Thankful would be the word.

Happy Thanksgiving if you're Canadian or love someone who is.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Saturday, 9 October 2010

B is for birdbrain.

I am lingering over coffee this morning, sitting at my desk looking at the new offerings on Coach, reading about Atlanta's goalie and marveling that our Thanksgiving week will see the rescue of miners trapped in Chile (except for that one guy with the wife AND the girlfriend who discovered each other at the site). Because sometimes I skim the headlines and sometimes I let the sand flood into my nose and ears because I can only focus my energies on being a good mother, wife and friend and really the remainder of the solution to the world's problems are something that can be solved with money. The hard part is keeping that money clean and out of the hands of the corrupt.

Good luck to you, if you are so idealistic as to think otherwise.

(No worries. I have no illusions as to how uneducated, unwordly and unsophisticated I am. You don't need to email me to tell me these things. I hear them every single day.)

What I would like today is this cup of coffee to remain bottomless, and I would also like a Ferris wheel in the middle of the woods so that I would know what it feels like to be a falling leaf. Dipping, swirling on the wind, floating gently to the floor of the forest path in pure silence. Ferris wheel music is an abomination, though over the years they have changed from circus standards to classic rock and I'm not sure if that's an improvement or just an intrusion. Mostly I think the quiet wheels are best but you need to experience it to understand what I mean.

You have to know the right people, and you have to ride the wheel in the dark after all the customers have left but before all the lights are shut down. It's worth it. Bonus points if you can see the beach as you approach the top.

Double bonus points if anyone actually appreciates my Saturday morning rambles besides Dalton. Triple bonus points if you think you're so amazing that you judge me for admitting that I don't pay attention to reality and you can actually fault me for it at this point in my life.

Saturdays are our Sundays, I believe. The whole day is a blank slate. Kind of like my brain.

Friday, 8 October 2010

The inadequate navigator.

Up until this point I figured I was ready to head back to routine. Fall. Working. That weird space between Thanksgiving and Christmas when you are existing between turkeys and decorations and fitting in a little Halloween fun and shopping for gifts and mostly trying to keep warm.

I have struggled to write while Ben is home. Having very little luck. I sleep less when he's home and tend to fight more to get the standard household chores done. Part of his time off involved casting aside responsibility and demands for doing absolutely nothing at all.

And then tonight he says he had the best break ever and I trumped him and broke myself.

I don't want him to return to work. I don't want to miss him. I don't want to go back to feeling like I am alone in the world and counting the hours until he returns to me safe and sound. I want to keep him here so I can throw myself into his arms whenever I want for a kiss or a hug. So I can make him lunch and wake him up. So I can be with him.

Time is so short. I don't care if you get it. I get it and I don't like it. And weirdly the whole episode of winter without him only served to make me more clingy and less capable. Sure I can do what needs to be done but I don't want to. I will scream in fear as I'm doing it and shut my eyes tightly and when it is over for the moment the tears will come. Relief. Frustration. Agony. Pick something. Pick nothing. I get annoyed when people infringe on our time. I am sad when the evening ends and we have to sleep at last. I am frustrated that he has to go back to real life because I'm not finished spending time with him yet in this fantasy world where our days are our own.

I am always stopped short just as I settle in. I am always left behind in the grand scheme of things, with a map I can't read and directions I can't seem to follow. What is crystal-clear to others is a confusing jumble to me written in another language. I can't do this. I can't exist in the present and I can't plan for the future. I can't read this compass because it's spinning. Spinning wildly from N to E to S and back again, twitching onto W and becoming a blur as the hot sting of tears push out from under my eyes once more. You can tell me I'm approaching foolish but interestingly enough you can't point me back toward common sense.

It isn't even on the map. They lied.

Ben is traveling by memory and I am following him by heart.

Passive Aggression.

The past few days have been a little busy. Company arriving and leaving, concerts, driving (oh, so much driving), trying and not really wanting to plan for the upcoming Thanksgiving break and also trying and not really wanting to wrap up Ben's final days off because then it means he'll have to go back to playing for others and mostly he would prefer to play for me now.

I did get a turkey. And gravy and stuffing and potatoes and carrots and a cake. Because what is a holiday that doesn't have cake?

Wait a minute, what is a day that doesn't have cake? Cake should be a requirement, like hugs and brushing your teeth. Oh, hugs are not a requirement in your day? Too bad. I feel sorry for you now.

And literally EVERY single time I sit down at the computer New-Jake starts talking to me. Poor thing is starved for attention. He is very very good at hugs, however, and so it's difficult to find fault with him.

(More about him another day because presently he is talking to me, and when he isn't talking, Ben is reading to me from the paper. Both of them somehow are failing to notice the laser beams shooting out of my eyes. I need to work on being less subtle, I guess. There's a cosmic joke in there somewhere. I would extricate it but I can't even think with all these words zinging around over my head.)

Last night? Mastodon. Deftones. Alice in Chains. It was glorious. It was a little confusing. Burned my ears from the first song and had a hard time adjusting to the volume and so I found myself tugging on Ben's hand to confirm the songs I think I was hearing but really Change (In the house of lies) and Your Decision were huge standouts. I've always wanted to see AIC in concert, the rest was just icing. I'm so very glad we went but I will be grateful tonight for a little sleep as we had a seven a.m. airport call this morning for our company and so we were up seemingly before most people were into their sleep cycles proper (because again with the driving. This city is spread all over the west coast, I tell you. We drive for HOURS every week.)

So not fair but again, totally worth it.

I wish I could have cake right this second but I think it would be rude. I don't know. I can't keep my train of thought. I'm giving up. Maybe tomorrow I can write before Jake wakes up, though I don't believe he sleeps at all, I just think he switches to a whisper to be polite and keeps on talking twenty-four hours a day.

Of course, now I'll also find out if he's reading my journal.

Score.

(Also, please excuse mistakes, I'm in the process of running screaming from the house and can't be bothered.)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Resuscitation.

Leave the truck, someone will lock it. Jump along on one bare foot while removing the other shoe and then sigh audibly as you slog along slowly through the warm sand.

Sand is the magic carpet that transports you to another universe where there are no budgets, telephones or traffic jams. No grumbling bellies and no rain.

Unless you want rain, but you always seem to prefer sweater-weather. It's a guarantee the beach will be empty.

Plow straight ahead until you reach water and then venture back five or six feet to walk along the edge of the firmer sand where the shells and the seaglass rise to the top in the tide.

A small handful is collected within seconds.

Smile for a picture. It's a beach, you're a Bridget. This is what we do. String you out until you've had enough and then bring you here to recharge. Fill up those green eyes again. Stuff your lungs with salt air and you can have a talk with that seagull and damn, no one will call you crazy because this is your turf.

Yours.

There's a rock shaped like a heart, and there's a broken seashell. Yuck, the seaweed looks just like your hair did in 2002 when you dyed it green for Henry's kindergarten Halloween party and it never came out. Hey, Bridge. Here's more glass. Put it in your pocket. Hey. You with me? Heh. It smells good, doesn't it?

When you am finished your daydream you look up and Ben is at the other end of the beach. So far away he's a tiny dot. You laugh because in real life up close Ben is huge and you generally have conversations with the pockets on his flannel shirt instead of his face. You contemplate calling him but he is intent and you don't want the ugliness of a ringing phone to spoil any of this for him either.

You jump up and down and wave instead.

He sees you and lifts his arm in response. You begin to walk toward him. He is taking his time so when you reach him you're still far away from where you started. He takes your hand and slows you down, passing you another handful of seaglass. You are delighted.

You slowly make your way back to the truck. Every step is a burden, every stumble a reminder that you are going in the wrong direction.

You shake your head. No, we're not supposed to be leaving. Wasn't the whole point of coming out here to stay here? On the sand? By the sea? Why are they breaking your heart? You don't want to go home. You don't want to come out here twice a season, You'd rather come twice a day.

Be realistic, Bridget. The world doesn't stop for you.

But it does here. That's the rub. The world does stop when I am here.


Only for you, baby girl. Only for you.


You try to breathe in as much as you can, see as much as you can remember and take away everything your pockets will hold. The shore will wait. The problem is, it just doesn't keep.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

(For a minute I was jealous, but really, this opens up a whole new world.)

Today reminds of a day from four years ago, as the boys have made up now and all is well.

Ben was coming home from eighty-something days on the road. I had spoken with him through three airports and he had agreed to dump his stuff, shower and then come straight over for a meal and to say hello and then and only then he could go back to his horrid little filthy chaotic apartment and sleep for four days, as is customary when Ben would get off tour.

He knew I was dying to see him. I was so excited. I was waiting in the front porch. For forty-five minutes. Because showering? I know what Ben does in the shower. It's a thing of beauty to watch. His shampoo is multi-purpose.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

There's his car! (He had a car back then. This was before his big Ford trucks came into our lives and never left.)

He's walking up the sidewalk. Oh my God! He looks awesome. Thin and tired but awesome. His hair is so long! Wow.

I open the door, smile plastered from ear to ear.

He walks up the steps, smiles briefly and says Hey, princess.

And he walks in straight past me to the living room where Jacob is reading in his chair and grabs his whole head, kissing him on the mouth. Jacob, never one to refuse affection, reached up and pulled Ben right into his lap where they proceeded to make out for several minutes until I started making very loud obnoxious protest noises and I think PJ choked on pure air. This was designed to make me laugh. I hate it when the boys are away. I make such a fuss when they come back. Not this kind of fuss, mind you.

It was probably the funniest, most surprising display I think I have ever seen. Or so I thought.

Ben repeated it this morning with Lochlan, after having left the house for an hour. Lochlan complied. In spades.

Ben has trumped himself, as if it were possible.

(And hot. Wow.)

I didn't protest. I think I could watch that any day.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Ha. Ben just called to me to see if he could come out now.

Castles in the air.

They managed to stop arguing long enough to stand outside the school chatting with the principal as we picked up the children from school. Big night. An extra ten people due for dinner, which meant twenty extra arms to hold us close and twenty to hold them apart.

Oh, wait. Eighteen. One was totally gunning for Ben and Lochlan to go crashing through the kitchen windows, locked in a struggle to the death, doomed to be dashed into the sea below our house.

Oh, can't you just picture it? Maybe add in laser beams for eyes and yes, I invited the devil Caleb and every moment there is unrest in my life his heart beats fast with anticipation. He gets off on my pain. He always has. It isn't my beauty that is his drug, it's my misery.

Beauty is a perk, like free parking or cake that is not only cake, but also warm cake.

I did not serve cake for dessert. I didn't have dessert planned, since these boys will stuff themselves full of pasta and garlic bread until they are forced to shove off from the table like they are boats at a shallow launch. Caleb will leave food still on his plate as he is usually deeply engaged in conversation with someone. Ruth will do the same, as it seems to run in the family, words taking precedence over just about everything else.

Big subjects were glossed on, because that's how I wanted to roll and everyone was fine with that.

Except for Benjamin.

And Lochlan too.

Benjamin turned to Caleb with an evil smile. That same one he'll give just before a table is upended. I shot him my death ray stare and he stopped smiling but continued on his chosen tack.

Smoke?

Sure.

Loch?

Yeah.

I put my hands over my eyes. I get it now. They're going to throw Caleb into the sea. Wait, why the hell am I covering my eyes? I should be selling tickets and calling the networks to bring their helicopters so they can televise this epic moment.

(Forgive the gallows humor. I'm possibly the only person in the world who can be excused for using it.)

PJ makes a move to stand up and go outside with them but Chris loudly points out that he wonders where PJ is going since PJ doesn't smoke. A little bit of uneasy laughter follows and then I change the damn subject. If they want to toss Caleb off the cliff then fine. They'll both go to jail. I will categorically self-destruct.

I opt to leave my eyes covered. Daniel puts his arms around me and tells me to relax, they're all reasonable men. I look up, shooting the death-ray stare at him instead. He concedes that he must have had too much to drink and is blathering.

I am beginning to flutter and wonder if I should sit on my hands or just let all of my fearful untapped anxiety spread all over everything when the back door opens and I count three men return to the kitchen. Okay, so I'll keep it all inside for now.

Caleb crosses to me and bestows a light peck on my cheek.

I need to run, princess. Busy day tomorrow. Call when you have a moment and I can get the details for Henry's days from you.

I nod. Why isn't he dead? I would have done it. In a heartbeat. In less than one, actually. While I am fantasizing about quick numbers and quicker deaths he makes his exit, quickly calling a goodbye to all and hugging the children, who are heading up to bed.

We're so civilized sometimes. The lawyers would be proud. What a farce.

The door closes and we hear the footsteps walk to the edge of the verandah and then a moment later the 350z quietly purrs to life. Ben bursts out laughing. Lochlan is grinning but he has his hand over his mouth.

What did you do?

Showed him the moonlight on his brother's plaque. That's all. He is smiling wider now. Sweetly. Motherfucker.

And what did you do? I turned to Lochlan to see what hand he had in all this.

I didn't do anything. If Ben drops him off the cliff and goes to jail, I get you to myself. The way things should be.

Oh well, it was a short reprieve anyway. The fists came out and they went to the floor and those eighteen hands pulled them apart and sent them literally to their rooms. I know they act like children. It never occurred to me that I could ground them for it.

Life just became so much more interesting.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

No object.

August is sitting here drawing pictures of me while I am forced to be stuck inside while Ben and Lochlan sit out in the backyard on the patio where the ocean is so close one can taste it. Why? They're having a DISCUSSION and mostly that means the words will soon turn into fists and no one wants me there because maybe I'll get caught in the crossfire or maybe I might have something to say or maybe I won't say anything and I don't know which is worse.

Really if Ben wants to put a stop to everything all he has to do is throw Lochlan off the cliff. There. Done. Case closed. Only he won't because he knows I would follow. At a flat run, no less.

What I would like is for them both to just stand back and be generous.

Not with each other, just with me. Like they used to be. You know when you really want someone to do something or believe in something, you make it sound as if it is the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world. It's only later when they are fully involved that they see the downside, the dark truth behind the glossy facade. That's what they did.

This is bullshit. I can run faster than August. I could probably be on the patio before he's even out of his chair.

54321 (Nightwatch).

(Don't.)

Ben and I were in the living room. The fire was low, the lights were off. I was tucked into Ben's arm while his free hand traced my ears, lips, nose, forehead. His eyes are so black, it's as if they grow larger when it's dark. It's beautiful. It's frightening. His breathing is even. He doesn't seem tired. I am falling asleep staring at him. He could do this for hours. He will regularly do this for hours, as if he is memorizing my features. One finger across my eyelashes and then down my cheek. Under my jaw and then he leans in for a kiss. An endless one in which I need to relax completely and breathe through him or not breathe at all.

His skin is cool. He is gentle, no razorburning tonight. Time has stopped moving. The stars have fixed into place in the sky and everything has fallen away. I go to whisper something and his hand returns to my face as he pulls away to look at me. He quiets me and then rubs his thumb across my bottom lip and my brain begins to fight. Putting Jacob in his place. A shattery-slick doubling of Ben's image that briefly turns to blonde and then I struggle to bring it back again. The image locks on Ben once more. I take a sudden, deep breath and he tightens his hold on me and returns to his quiet explorations. Earlobe. Hairline. The white-line scar under my nose.

I feel his whole body tense and then I realize we're not alone and I look up, upside down and see Lochlan standing in the door, bathed in light from the foyer, red curls damp and shining.

Leave us. A growl from Ben. It's not a request, it's an order. His possessiveness is incredible to me. Sometimes it is larger than life. Sometimes it is nowhere to be found. I have not seen the pattern yet, it simply depends on the day. It depends on the weather and it depends on the moment. This is one of them.

Lochlan chuckles. I know that sound. That's his challenge. His I-can't-believe-you-think-I'm-going-to-do-what-you-ask laugh. Incredulous, but then he holds out his helmet in a mock salute and heads out into the hallway again, slamming the door behind him. I am just being held into another kiss when I hear the motorcycle roar off, up the mountain. Away from me.

Lochlan does that on purpose. Night drives because he knows I will remain half-awake. He never cared if I slept. The others would stand guard, count hours, demand to see the dark circles and then admonish me endlessly for my poor sleeping, concern taking a front seat to everything else. Lochlan always told me when I would sit, wide-eyed, counting stars while he drifted off, that when I got tired enough I would sleep and until then worrying about it would only make it worse.

Early in the morning in total darkness when Ben sleeps he'll let go and I will startle awake again, needing to see if Lochlan ever came home. I will tiptoe down the quiet halls and through rooms until I arrive at his closed door. I will never knock. When I am satisfied that he is safe, home and present then I will sleep. And only then. In Lochlan's arms wrapped tight around me but facing away from him, toward the window, a soft breeze touching my face, dreaming of Ben. This is the time I am given that is my own, without question.

Lochlan does not need to memorize my features, he already knows them so well. Nostalgia serves as the axiom for his emotions and the rules are set by the circus as always. Don't get comfortable. Pulling up stakes is a daily event. He is too worn out from work to see to it that I sleep, so never mind, here, give guard to someone more capable because you're a walking hazard at this point.

A kiss on the same cheek traced by his friend and I slip away when the sun comes up. Back to my life, away from the past.

I return to the present and climb under the quilts and Ben holds his arms out. I am flush against him and his hand cradles my head. Stay with me, he whispers in his sleep. I am captive, unable to even nod and so I remain still, my arms wrapped around his neck, trying to will my still-warm flesh to transfer heat to him. He is cool still, exhausted and unable to fight in his dreams.

I will stay awake and fight for him, too. I'm not sure if their terrors are alive or dead though. Probably both. Just like mine.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Albatross.

I wouldn't have shown you such mercy.

That is why you failed.
Jacob would always pick up the flattest pumpkin he could find at the pumpkin patch and pretend to shot-put it at Ben.

He would yell Fore. As if they were on the golf course.

Ben hates golf. He thinks golf clubs are stupid and once took an old electric guitar out on a nine-hole course. He was marginally drunk that day and was asked to leave repeatedly. Jacob finally picked him up and dragged him to the truck and brought him home.

I instructed Ben to go crash in the guest room and told him not to emerge for at least fifteen hours at which point there would be aspirin, coffee, juice and dry toast for him. The guitar was left behind in the rough (where he threw it) and never recovered. Jacob ruptured a muscle in his back lifting two hundred pounds of unruly Ben with his arms and next time offered to first knock Ben out and then drag him out by the fauxhawk.

Ben never played golf again. So when the lawyers invited the boys to play golf yesterday it was a pretty easy refusal. We went to the pumpkin patch instead.

Ben doesn't generally like to touch the pumpkins until the knives come out to carve them. You would think he would take his bull-in-a-china-shop routine and extend it to a pumpkin patch but he's very solemn about it and he always wants to choose the exact right one. The perfect one. The Great Pumpkin. And so we'll wind up buying twelve or twenty-seven of them by the time Halloween arrives. There are already three on the verandah and a few handfuls of decorative tiny ones scattered around the house. Which I thought looked amazing. Add in another dozen outside and people will soon start thinking Bridget is selling pumpkins.

Great.

Or maybe not.

Ben is out back with Jacob's old golf clubs and the gates wide open to the ocean. He is teeing off with the mini pumpkins, watching them sail off the cliff into the sea. The ones that aren't exploding on contact, anyway. A good two hundred yards, I would wager. I think he's finally figured out the game.

Hopefully the guitars will stay indoors but with Ben I never say never.

Well, not anymore anyway.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Thing one and thing two.

(If I spin the dial and count the squares going this way in the game of life, I can ignore Caleb's attempt to change a whole bunch of little nitpicky things on our custody arrangements, which sent us back to court. I can effectively turn a deaf ear to his attempt to squeeze me with a power play after I made a move to stop his bullshit. Things quiet back down and life returns to normal, albeit with a heaping serving of the usual quarter-century of coercion and sexual abuse that seems to be like infected oxygen to me.

If I count the squares the other way I can call him on all of it, deploy Batman and frankly wind up worse. Far worse. Once I open that door there is no closing it again and I'm really not ready for that. Hell, I still wake up every morning expecting to see Jake. Sometimes Cole. I'm not strong enough to hold down a single sheet of paper with my words and you want me to do what? No, go away now, please and I'll pretend I didn't hear you either.

Be disappointed in me. You won't be the first.

It's far easier to literally lie down and take it and I am foolish for thinking otherwise. I try to continue to preserve my dignity but it's like gilding mud as it's flying through the air.)

That's what's in my head while the boys are busy making other plans. Aren't you sorry you asked?

Ben took me out for lunch yesterday at a cozy little spot by the water. We sat and watched the boats bobbing in the wake of the ferries and we had hot bowls of chowder and talked. We existed in the moment. We paid far too much for a simple lunch but left holding hands. We had a few hours to breathe alone and be contended and in this day you take what you can get. Selfishly, hungrily. We've had a lot of small pockets of time in the past four days to enjoy each other alone. A first. A best. I can't quantify what it means to be with him and not have to be renovating/packing/moving/unpacking/transitioning/deflecting/defusing all the time. We're like hey, watch a movie? Grab a coffee? Take off all your clothes and go back to bed at ten in the morning?

Yes, please.

All of that. And that is nice and I don't talk about Ben alot because Ben is a constant. A quiet, level, hotter than hot constant and there is no drama I need to sort out with him (right now). He is all, just come lie in my arms and nothing else matters in the whole world.

He's right.