Wednesday, 31 August 2011

There, there, Bridget.

Ocean pulls me close and whispers in my ear
The destiny I've chose, all becoming clear
The currents have their say, the time is drawing near
Washes me away
Makes me disappear
Today is nice. It's cozy. It's been raining since about six this morning and I am sipping from my second coffee of the day on the covered deck off the master stateroom. Caleb calls it the Sweet. I believe he is attempting a play on words (suite) but that one is just so clumsy and awkward. He should stick to remaining crystal-clear and forthright instead of clever.

He should stick to being evil instead of being nice.

It would make things easier.

He is, as they say, an opportunist.

I still say he is the Devil. He will say those are just the unchecked fears of a child talking, and that everything will be just fine.

But he's smiling when he says this, and that's how you know he lies.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

1. The Hydromancer.

His skin is so tanned. He is lying in the inflatable boat, oars slack in the plastic tholepins, head thrown back, eyes closed. Dark hair almost dry again. He speaks without checking to see if I am paying attention.

You ready to come in now, bee?

I watch him. He doesn't look annoyed or bored or mad. He is patient. It's just a question.

No. Not yet, Caleb. I like being out here by myself. You can leave if you want.

What do you mean, leave?

You can go somewhere else.

Like back to the car?

If you want.

And be the one who left the nine-year-old girl alone on the raft to drown? I don't think that would be good. Some day I want to go to law school, you know.

How come no one trusts me?

You can't swim so well yet, Bridget. Maybe next year, okay?

Lochlan says I'm a good swimmer.

He's trying to encourage you. You will be good but you are small and you get tired easily and the raft is just too far from shore. When you're older it will be fine. You'll be able to dive off the yacht I buy, when the time comes.

He is seventeen and he knows everything, or so it seems. He is way more level than hot-headed Lochlan (at fifteen) or quiet, moody Cole (newly thirteen). He has a driver's license and is therefore God among the lakeside set. He is cool enough to suggest, sometimes, that we skip the lake entirely and head to the beach instead. He, Lochlan and Cole sit in the front, Bailey and I and the other girls cram into the backseat with towels and beach bags pushed down under the seats in front. I am only allowed to go because well, I will raise holy hell if someone goes to the beach without me, and also because Caleb seems to have a soft spot for me.

Nevermind the fact that I was Lochlan's living shadow from the first day we met. I was the mascot. If they took me they were all allowed to go, because how much trouble can you get into if you're busy watching over a fourth-grader?

Right. Not a hell of a lot.

Today is a lake day because he has to work soon only he is stalling. Delaying. Giving me endless minutes to lie in the sun on the weathered boards in order to bake myself dry while he lies in the reflective inflatable boat and dreams about owning a yacht someday.

Will you take me for a ride on it? Really?

You could come live on it, if you want, Bridget.

Won't your wife mind?

Maybe you'll be my wife.

That's gross. I'm nine.

Someday it will seem like we're almost the same age, Bridget. It will be weird. I think it happens around forty or something.

I can't picture being that old, Caleb.

Me neither. But it's inevitable, baby. Just like my yacht.

You think?

It's all part of the plan.

Is marrying me part of your plan? my voice comes out vaguely alarmed. Secretly, in my head I marry Lochlan. He is so cute and I drive him crazy. It's inevitable. Caleb, well, maybe he'll marry Bailey. Not that I care about any of that yet. I just want to make sure he brings me back to the shore.

Maybe, Bridget. I guess we'll have to see what life holds.

But what do you really see happening, Caleb? What's your best guess?

I'm guessing someday you will run away and join the circus. And when you come home, you'll marry a prince and live in a castle and eat nothing but cotton candy, three times a day. You'll make tiny braids in your hair but never brush it and your children will look just like you. There will be a girl and a boy and you will be very very happy and content. You will dance and listen to music all the time and everyone who lays eyes on you will smile. Just like they do now.

Wow. I hope you're right.

Me too, Bridget, for your sake. Me too.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The living dead.

I did not stay home long. Caleb invited us to spend a few days with him aboard the yacht and so here we are. The children are happily ensconced in the media room watching a film. The lights are on. It's dark out now and the wind has died down. It's very cozy and quiet on the water tonight, so I'm going to put my words away and try to sleep. I always sleep well this close to the sea.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Off the record.

He twists the cold bottom of the glass against my foot briefly as he walks out on deck. I am lounging in the chair, feet up on the rail, my nose stuck in a book when he asked if I would like a cold glass of something. I nodded, loathing the disturbance but so thirsty I could have sucked the ink off the letters on the page and I finally managed to tear myself away from the words when the ice-cold glass touched my skin.

Caleb is smiling, holding out what has to be either a gin and tonic (it's all the rage these days, that damned wonderful Bombay Sapphire), or a Mojito, but I'm not hugely fond of those the way I am of so many other drinks first, and it's ironic really since I shouldn't drink and I can't hold my liquor because I'm leaky and lightweight and frail but hey, if you build it, I'll drink it, and anesthetize my life into something a little more manageable, something I can swallow.

Like this ice, when it melts into tiny shards of amazing cool against my tongue.

Caleb is enjoying a rare day off and he's invited me to spend it with him. He's relaxed for the moment, something out of a magazine ad today. Worn khaki cargo shorts and a plain white, v-necked t-shirt. Unshaven, blue eyes full of mischief. Days like this I want to hate him, but I couldn't if I tried. These are the days he truly enjoys what he has worked for and accomplished and if only I would concede defeat and choose him, he says his life would be complete. The bucket list is ninety-nine items crossed off and one far beyond his control.

Or not, if he plays his cards right. What's the difference? I am numb enough to play along and we're both old enough to pretend and smart enough to understand the risks and benefits involved and really, it's not so much of a stretch to imagine life like this on a day like today, the sun beaming down upon the water, quiet activity as the crew scrub the boat bow to stern.

I shift slightly in the chair and my shirt rakes up to reveal a neat baby-pink bow on my bikini bottoms. He stares, unabashedly and I pull the hem of my shirt down again. He looks away and reaches with both hands over his head, grabbing his shirt and pulls it over his head and down his arms with one motion. I watch, admiring the natural tan, and the cut of his chest, the way his tattoos flow with his body. He's a beautiful man, with only one flaw and it certainly isn't physical, not by any means at all. He has those effortless good looks, whereas Cole had a darker, intense sexuality that he could turn off and on at will, he would gift you with it but rarely. Caleb doesn't need a switch, he is stuck at on.

His dark brown hair mixed with my flaxen blonde is what brought about Henry's ash blonde color. His medium blue eyes mixed with my green brought about Henry's hazel blue-gold irises. His incredible rage mixed with my submissiveness brought about a child who doesn't know which end is up in his emotional map, with no compass, who has had to be taught how to act and react and how to control his feelings, lest they ruin his life forever.

Isn't that how this works?

We are getting business out of the way first today and Caleb passes me an envelope stuffed with results of his most-recent health checkup. He flies to a private clinic in the US for his stress tests and such, a top-notch facility where money can buy almost anything except dishonesty. Here we discover right away how he is doing, and how his heart is holding up, in spite of the disease that threatens to rip one more knight from my round table.

I frown, trying to recall the different medical terminology and he smiles gently and explains, line by line, crowding in beside me on the lounge chair until we are pressed together tightly between the arms of the chair. He smells like aftershave and Maker's Mark. He smells really good.

It is a positive report. Everything is positive and he is healthy. His heart is working. That's all I need to see, that he isn't going to just drop. At least not from this.

He shifts on the chair slightly and puts his arm around me, his chin resting on the top of my head. It's so warm and breezy out. I want to fall asleep, I am so relaxed. He has bigger plans.

My proposal now?

I break out of my reverie.

Did you have a chance to review my proposal? The new deal I made for you?

I bite my lip and shake my head. I didn't open it.

How come?
He shifts again and I am in his arms, pressed against his chest, my face somewhere below his and he pulls back to look at me.

I push off and stand up, pulling myself across the deck along the railing, hypnotized by the sea. It's the same song and dance. I don't know what you want me to say.

I want you to read it and then give me feedback, princess. Am I getting close? What would you include? What would you take away? What do I need to do differently?

You want me to give you a map to show you the way to my heart, at the expense of my marriage and my other relationships?

He laughs, sheepishly. I want you to tell me what you want and that's what I will do.

I daydream, instantly. Beyond his means, far beyond his capabilities. I smile and he catches on.

Not something I can't pull off, Bridget. I want to know how to win your favor. Permanently.

I roll my eyes and finish my drink. I stop talking. Talking never served any purpose anyway. I sit down beside him on the chair and tilt my drink up to drain the last drops of gin. He laughs.

I get it, no more words.

I shake my head and smile. No more words, Caleb.

Only one thing left, then.
He pulls me down against his skin. He is warm from the sun and I relax my muscles and let go, closing my eyes as his arms close around my thin frame. He squeezes me and exhales.

We are interrupted by one of the crew, who is clearly new and was told to clean this deck, not seeming to understand that if the owner is using it, all bets are off. But Caleb doesn't engage him, instead apologizing and pulling me to my feet. He leads me inside, and then heads back out for the glasses and we bump down the hallway, giggling like little children, overheated and without a care in the world. I don't know what he puts in my drink but I feel like I've had three or four instead of one, and the edges of the day are fuzzy and out of focus, veering wildly. I see his grin before me and I follow it until we reach the master suite, my tiny fingers threaded through his.

The minute my head hits the pillow I want to sleep. Clearly his afternoon holds other plans. I am spun out, held tightly and turned until clothing becomes bare flesh. He is holding me down, fingers tightly wrapped around my neck, forcing my wrist back down when I bring up my hand to block him, and putting his head down to whisper in my ear, words of comfort. Reassurance. Promises made where promises have absolutely no business at all.

He kisses down my face, along my jawline, to my neck, shoulders and back and then he pulls me into his arms and rocks against me, hard. Deliberately rough. Desperate. Determined. And I let go. I don't fight him. I let him take what he wants and I give him what he needs and I don't fight anymore. I don't feel what he wants me to feel and I don't think about Cole. It's a first.

Later when the afternoon sun hits the floor he seems to be almost dozing. Eyes closed. Head jutting out over the top of my skull again, arms still locked around me. I could drift off. The stateroom is cozy and secure. Abruptly he gets up and pulls on his shorts and leaves the room. I turn over lazily and stretch, pulling the sheet up to my chin, frowning at the time on the screen of my phone.

He returns with a tray that contains toast, orange juice and the proposal.

I take a piece of toast and a sip of juice and then he takes it all back out of my hands and replaces it with the envelope.

I don't want to look at this now.

Well then, when?

Is it time-sensitive?

If it wasn't, could I still say yes?


Then no. I guess not. Hell, thirty years, Bridget, what's another decade or two?
He gets up again and walks out.

I find him back on deck. The crew have been released for the day and the boat is ours, save for the captain, who isn't Caleb because Caleb doesn't have any interest in navigating water, just time.

I glance a kiss off the "B" in his tattoo.

What's the rush, Cale?

I've grown old waiting for you. It's starting to kill me. Slowly.

Oh, come on.

You get whatever you want.
It's an argument he dares to start and I put my finger up in front of his face. One. Shhhhh. Hush. Quiet. Don't. Whatever that finger means, it works.

My eyes spill over. The valve is turned and the tears begin to slide down my cheeks.

I don't get what I want. He isn't alive anymore.

It's a challenge. Someone's in the mood to fight.


I see the rage and jealousy wash over his face and I am suddenly wishing for it to strike me with full force. Throw me over. Hold me under until I drown. Either way, I win.

He never had the time invested in you that we do, princess. I don't understand.

It wasn't a game to him. There were no winners or losers. He just wanted me for me.

Caleb just stares at me. He is watching me wait for him to respond. I focus on his jaw flexing. In, out. In, out. His eyes flash from angry to frustrated to worried to confused to gracious and back to angry. But still I wait.

I don't have a map or a key or a solution or an instruction manual for-

I know this. I KNOW! He yells.

Then whatever your proposal includes isn't important, is it?

I still want you to read it, Bridge. You might be surprised.


I did not get a chance to read it.

Upon returning home, Lochlan took it from my bag, read it through and then took it out to the fire bowl on the patio and tore it to ribbons, stirring it into the flames until it was nothing more than melted letters on charred scraps of paper. I asked Lochlan what it said and he swore at me and he forbade me to ever go near Caleb again. Ever. That he's finally gone too far.

I had to promise Lochlan until we were both shaking. In return I exacted promises that he would protect me from this. From Caleb and his plans and his needs and his desires. We know these promises won't hold past sunrise but we still crossed our hearts anyway, hoping to die, pretty sure at this point that all of this is going to ultimately kill us anyway.

Friday, 26 August 2011

The final days of eleven.

Today we drove and drove and drove and memorized street names and turned and turned until we reached a point where the pavement was far behind us and we bumped through potholes and under dense forest canopy and then we drove and drove and drove some more, until we came out into the sun. I put the car in park, and the children took off, running through the trees and straight down the dock and off the end, into the lake. Into a sea of lilies and endless blue mountain water, smiling ear to ear.

Henry has been brave for years, jumping off everything and anything. Snow-forts, bunkbeds, diving platforms, you name it, he'll jump first and decide it was a good idea (or not) later. Ruth, well, let's just say today was a first.

She's been smiling ever since. Briefly I wondered if I should put sunblock on her teeth.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

There's a Doolittle in that story, too.

Lochlan is sitting out front on the bottom step in the blazing sun pounding back beer. Boots still on but untied, lethal. Jeans and t-shirt filthy, hair tangled in loose ringlets, endless red waves. He's an ocean of fire and if you asked him, depending on the day he would tell you he plays with fire. Ask him tomorrow and he'll tell you he works on the midway or the circus, depending on the year. Ask him the day before yesterday and he'll tell you he makes art but not every day and ask him next week and he'll tell you what he does is not as important as who he is.

You won't get a straight answer because there isn't one and he'll lecture you for being curious about what he considers the dumbest line of questioning in the universe, after the ones that require subterfuge, of course. Those questions have no answers and he'll just burn them down anyway. Problem solved. Harness fire, the one thing the Devil can conjure and you will begin to fight on even terms, and equal ground.

Only he won't fight with the Devil now. They've reached an impasse after thirty years. They can almost tolerate each other. They can get through a meal together. They stand in the same place, as equals in the amount of mistakes they have made, crimes they have committed, hearts they have broken and time they have spent. Their promises rest at the same numbers, their hopes for the future are mirror images of one another, so when I tell you Lochlan is no less guilty and no more innocent than Caleb, I'm not lying, I'm simply stating the facts as they are written, plain as the nose on my face.

The only reason I call Caleb Satan is because of his epic tattoo, the Gaelic word for devil, Diabhal, stretching from shoulder to shoulder across his back. He's had it for a very long time and now you can sleep at night.

(I did mention it before, years ago. Dear reader, you are skimming. Don't do that. It's not fair.)

So the redhead sits in the sun and waits for the dark and then he becomes who he wants to be, the Commander of Flames, Stirrer of Embers, Keeper of Heat and Light. The guy who will call out to you with the slightest hint of a Scottish accent and a wicked dare to come and try your luck.

He is all talk to you and all heart to me. When I take a step backward, he is there to catch me when I stumble over those dumb boots, left in the way, no matter where I am. When I need him he empties his arms from whatever he was doing and holds me. When he wants to cause problems all he has to do is flash that smile and my knees weaken and it ruins life for just about everyone else.

I can't explain it but I know what's around the corner next. A scarlet sea of risk and inherent comfort. A warmth that can't be found anywhere else and a lifetime supply of simple pleasures, like sitting in the sun, getting drunk off his face and proclaiming he would be a great busker, if only he were still young enough to take the financial hit with as much enthusiasm as he had before he knew what it was like to feel full.

He'll be forty-six in a week and a half, but you wouldn't know it if you saw him and I know it but I still can't believe we're at this unbelievable place where time can march on but we haven't moved a muscle.

He has not aged the way I have and easily passes for thirty. I'm really hoping for a Rip Van Winkle moment one of these mornings but when I point that out, Lochlan just laughs until he cries.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted.

I'm not craving gin and air anymore. I've been getting eight hours of sleep.

It's a fucking miracle. Okay, it's also gin and Robax Platinum but also possibly ten years of total exhaustion and last night it was pointed out that we are averaging eight hours a night suddenly.


I can feel it. I remember what things are supposed to be called instead of helplessly pointing and knitting up my eyebrows and snapping my fingers, shaking my head until someone else hits on what I mean. Yeah! That. It isn't painful to pry my eyes open when the alarm rings because we are getting up at 6:30 instead of 4:30. Hell, I even have to wake the dog up now, who can usually be found spooning with Henry UNDER the covers and it's light outside. Meeting fewer bears is a plus too, I get tired of playing out Stephen King novels when I leave my house.

(Have ticked off The Stand, Dreamcatchers, Cujo, Christine, Carrie, Pet Sematary, The Shining, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, The Running Man and Lisey's Story and I'm not living any more of them out loud.

(Unless it's Misery. Oh, what I could do with Misery. Caleb, are you listening?)

So yes, less bears. And also! Energy after four in the afternoon, which is good because I've been cooking dinner in two shifts again because the downside of the boys all working for Batman's holdings now mean half the boys are home at the usual time to eat with the children and the other half are home at..quarter to eight or so.

I split my time between the two dinner shifts and try to eat with one group one night and the other the next night. Which is why for a while it was easy to forget in the push and not eat dinner at all.

But I will do better because I was proclaimed vaguely drunk last evening and that is apparently frowned upon, on a quiet Tuesday night out of the blue and so yes, less of the gin but more of the sleep and I'm reading books again and cleaning things and the whole daily grind seems less painful and more patient so far. So far. Pfft. Just over three weeks in, and one and a half weeks left to go until school starts and then I will have more time to write which is a total lie, I'll have more time to paint, since I am suddenly completely tired of the incredible white interior where everything is white, including the floors and it's ridiculously sterile and we need color. Ben would like color, personally I still get hives when I go into the hardware store but I will persevere.

And yesterday I took some children (only two of which were mine) to Wal-Mart (I know! Fuck my life) and I didn't lose anyone, and I remembered where the car was when we left. Wonders will never cease and there might be hope for me yet, with this strange thing they call sleep.

I am plotting with Moneypenny (the GPS on my phone! She's English! It's fucking AWESOME!) to go to IKEA next. You've been warned. If I go alone we're doomed.

And I am not going to talk at all about how much I miss Ben (and Lochlan) during the day. Nope. We just won't go there. As PJ keeps telling me, it serves no purpose to jack yourself out like that, Bridget. Now find something to keep you busy and they'll be home before you know it.


I pinky-swear.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Keep you going.

Is there anybody in there
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone at home
Come on now
I hear you're feeling down
I can ease your pain
And get you on your feet again
I'll need some information first
Just the basic facts
Can you show me where it hurts
New routine is as follows. Lochlan arrives home around eight at night and I make him some dinner and I have a big fat gin and tonic instead of a meal. Everything unclenches and I can go to sleep.

Yes, it's completely stellar. So if you're looking for updates or any sort of coherent nonsense you've come to the wrong place. We're circus folk, it's not supposed to make any sense.
There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
And I have become
Comfortably numb.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

"Everyone is a millionaire where promises are concerned." ~Ovid.

I am not taking over your life.

He's walking in slow circles around me as I sit at his desk in the near-darkness and rock gently in the big leather chair.

I open my hands, palms up, in a gesture of total helplessness and then let them fall back into my lap. I don't think it would matter if I had any words, at this point he knows how I feel.

They're as secure as ever. Maybe moreso because I don't run my affairs as..mercurially as you all seem to. That's a direct reference to Caleb.

There is no competition here. Again, he keeps letting these statements hit their marks and I haven't argued and he has ever last concern itemized. As usual he is one step ahead, always.

There is nothing in this for me, save for your well-being.

Oh, now, NOW I'm getting really fucking sick of everyone's new favorite tag line.


He stops and begins to laugh.

Sorry, I had to say that. I hear it so often. It drives me crazy.

It's my turn to be surprised now. Then truth, Batman (I don't call him Batman, except for your benefit, dear reader).

I want to know if you are satisfied.

Satisfied? With what?

The first month.


Payroll alright?


You organized the health plans?


Life Insurance?

As we speak.

Any problems?

I will let you know.

Please do. If you have any questions I am here for you.

What's in it for you?

Recognizing talent when I see it, realizing that Caleb no longer had my interests at heart and it seemed like the best time to strike, with the dissolution of the company. Early bird gets the worm, Bridget.

You're trying too hard to convince me and you've come in heavy.

He's gotten too close to you and everyone is worried.

He is Henry's father, therefore we have a partnership in parenting. Nothing more.

Maybe I'm not as easy to fool.

Nothing more.

Bridget, you're lying to me.

It's none of your business.

I made a promise. And I made one to you as well.

I'm not taking your offer.

Ah, my offer. You are a singular wonder, Bridget. And I really wish you would tell me what keeps you tied to him.

I did. Henry. I say it softly. He shakes his head. He is frustrated and pacing faster.

Do they know?

Some do?

Which ones?

I need to go. I have plans.

I stand up and pull out my phone. Batman makes a sound that could pass for a note of surprise or a forced burst of laughter and then he slams his palms down on the desk in front of me and I jump out of my skin.

Are you going to summon your driver, Bridget? You've got quite the track record of walking out on every conversation you've ever had. I gave you the time limit, you failed to produce and I'm busy trying to keep an escape route open for you and those you love. His voice breaks slightly and he clears his throat forcefully to cover. This isn't easy and it's not helping that I don't have all the facts. I'm fighting blind, princess. You asked for help and I'm trying to help you but I can't because I don't know what I'm up against. All I know is that Cole didn't want you so close to Caleb and no one else seems to either. You seem afraid, but afraid of what? I can help you but you have to tell me everything.

It's late. I'm leaving now. I'm so defeated. I turn and embrace him automatically. I smell his aftershave and realize he wears Attitude. The same one that Caleb wears during the day. I want to laugh but instead I just wrap my arms around his shoulders and squeeze and then I let go and walk out. He remains in place, holding his arms out as if to beckon my return. I can see his reflection in the mirrors as I walk toward the elevator. No driver tonight, I'm not going very far. Just four blocks down, closer to the water, to the glass apartment with the piano. Caleb has been sending me text messages all afternoon and evening. His proposal is ready and he will be waiting whenever I can slip away.

Friday, 19 August 2011


Dropped by the neck, stockings torn, shoes missing. A doll, discarded in high tide. Lips set in a small blank smile, eyes seeing everything, no ears required, she never needed them anyway, heart missing and nowhere to be found. Everything is black and grey, it will be quite a while before she washes up somewhere to be found by a strange face or maybe she'll be eaten by a shark.

I listened from outside his office door as he railed on the phone and I listened to the threats he made and the things he promised and I lost my nerve. I couldn't go in. I can't confront someone so unpredictable, driven by unimaginable, deceased loyalties.

Oh, how ironic, you say.

It would be different but you don't hear that because my mouth is sewn closed and I dropped my hand from the knob and backed away slowly, quietly until I could turn and run for the elevator and be away from there, where people are busy and things get done and deals are made that multiply anything the Devil has ever done by ten and it makes me nervous, you see because I am only a doll and I don't really understand this whole concept of how they can traffic the same human multiple times and why I have become the commodity and the collateral damage all at the same time and why isn't anyone else doing anything, and oh, that's right, multiply it all by ten, everyone, keep your heads down and don't rock the boat because it's new and we wouldn't want it to flip but if your favorite, beloved doll falls into the drink, well, that's sometimes what happens when you stand too close to the edge and you look over to see where you're headed instead of watching land shrink behind you.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Tabula Rasa.

Today looks better already, the sun is out, the birds are chirping, and time marches on.


This must be one of those perks they talk about with regards to getting older. You know, all twelve of them, like the discount on car insurance when you absurdly point out you've been driving for Jesus Christ, twenty-four years already and your rates finally go down. Also, you can TOTALLY afford Botox now, you're just wondering if it's too soon, ironically noting that injecting botulism spores into your face would be a rash and impulsive, immature thing to do.

Give me twenty more years to mull that one over, and then I'll probably be totally up for it, when my little face has scrunched up completely into an apple doll depiction and you can no longer see my eyes, they will resemble pale green hard beads, jammed into the soft forgiving fruit, tiny wires bent into glasses pressed over the top.

I am fully prepared for those years, since as I told you, I can afford to change.

But I won't because I'm not even allowed to cut my hair without full committee approval so plastic surgery is most likely not an option for me at any point in my life and that's fine, I think I'll wind up being the poster child for being forty and feeling seventeen forever.

Okay, at least until May 2012.

Also note, I can't seem to get from one end of a post to the other without forgetting what I was talking about. Have you noticed? Yes, so have I. It's ridiculous and I can tell I need a little more sleep but why sleep when I can stand on the balcony in the dark, watching the city move beneath my feet, bright lights, big dreams and all that delicious, amazing noise?

Caleb finds my hands, resting an ice cold glass in them. I drink the burning liquid and become very small. I realize his windows are the looking glass and I run away.

Or rather, I don't because at this point in my life I can't run, I can only execute the best plans I can come up with while flying from the trapeze, knees locked, underwear firmly jacked up beyond my middle name.

I set down the drink on the table, checking to see if he is watching and then I pull my phone out of my bag and speed dial John. John hears one sentence and hangs up and inside of fifteen minutes he is there. I meet him at sidewalk level and he jumps out, coming around to the passenger side, opening my door for me with a relieved expression. He doesn't speak, he only nods as I slip past him to curl up on the seat and rest my head, staring out the window into the dark as he closes the door firmly and disappears from my view. He gets in the driver's side and starts the car and then he just sits there. He doesn't put the car in gear or anything.


Silence. He is staring straight ahead, hands gripping the wheel.

John? Talk to me. You're scaring me.

You have to stop doing this, Bridge.

Doing what? I went for a drink. Gave him my expense list for the kids. We hardly even talked tonight.

Stop excusing it.

I didn't do anything wrong.

Then have him come to the house. Or email him the papers. Whatever. You need to stay away from him. Bridget, I spent almost two years of my life, every waking moment in a room or a vehicle with him and you have to understand how driven he is.

Oh, I know. He didn't get where he is by waiting for things to come to him. That's why he's so successful. I'm prattling on when John grabs my arms and pulls me right in to his face. He looks terrified.

Say that second sentence again, Bridget. SAY IT.

I've forgotten. I go over my paragraph in my head again and there it is. He didn't get where he is by...waiting for things to come to him.

What does he want?




Wrong again. This isn't hard, Bridget. He relaxes his hold but my elbows are throbbing and I'm not used to this sort of outburst from a guy who usually says so precious little.



I am dismissive. I know that, don't worry about me, I can handle him.

Bridget, you don't understand. You are the only thing he wants. And every moment you spend with him makes him more dangerous and more committed to his cause. He's never going to stop until he has you.

I know that.

No, you don't. You have no idea how the past two years have changed him.

And then John begins to talk and the things he says make my brain shrivel up and run looking for dark shadows to hide behind and false fronts to block the words.

I come back out of the dark when he pulls away from the curb, just as he says ...thirty-two years, Bridget. That's how long he has had to be denied.

Twenty-eight. He isn't denied though.

Sure he is. He comes in fifth. Do you know what that does to him?

Fifth. Do you know how ludicrous a conversation this is? I'm not doing this. Can we just go home, please?

Fine, I was just hoping that you would take your warning from someone who has nothing in it for himself.

Everyone wants something, John. Everyone. You're no different.

Jesus, Bridget. I want to be your friend.

Now you do.

I know in the past we've all been difficult, Bridget but our end goal is the same. We want you to be happy and we want to keep you safe and Caleb isn't safe.

What's the difference.

It was a statement, not a question and John just shook his head and kept a tight grip on the wheel. Almost home. He took the exit and we wound our way down the mountain toward the sea. He didn't say any more, he just pulled up in front of the house and waited for me to reach the front door and then he drove away. When he got to the turnaround in the highway I'm sure he texted Lochlan to tell him he couldn't get through to me. Lochlan would have reassured him that they will try again.

When things look different, like today.

Only this is harder and time has a higher cost again. I am home by myself during the day now, watched over by just PJ who has a lot to do but drops it on a dime when I walk into the room, only I don't very often. I remain in my little chair typing like mad, wearing out the keyboard and futzing around with my stories and half-written novels and poetry and emails too. I try not to watch the clock and I try not to think so hard. Maybe they could inject that Botox directly into my brain and I could have a beautiful, youthful lobotomy.

Except that I would like to forget only the bad things. And that isn't possible.


When Caleb called this morning I started to talk the moment I pressed the answer button, not giving him a chance. Sorry, I said, I realized I was too tired to spend much time so I slipped out early and I was rude and didn't say goodbye and I should have called because I'm sure you were worried-

He laughed. I don't worry about you, I have you followed to make sure you arrive safely at home. I just wanted to know if you were going to admit you were afraid and called in your knights. Apparently not. Call me when you want to end this pretense, Bridget. I have a revised deal for you.

My brain was still racing as he hung up so I had to wait and process the words to the tune of the silence and then I realized that he wasn't playing games anymore and I dropped my phone on the floor.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Deepest greys.

Maybe not such a good day. Not bad by any means, just not great.

These are bound to happen and I am optimistic that maybe this one will be it for a little while. I am close to tears all day and completely overwhelmed and buried under questions and inquiries and instructions and waiting for updates and I made an amazing lemon bundt cake this morning and forget to not follow the directions and tried to pry it out of the pan after ten minutes, when if you've been baking for as long as I have you know better and you wait until it's room temperature because otherwise it will break apart and it did so we chopped it up and put the glaze on and now it's a sort of a crumble-dessert. It's very good only I was hoping for slices as a treat for the boys who don't live here but visit every day. Home baking is a treat any time, if you have a penis, apparently. It's sort of a pain in a ass to me, when I can buy cookies for $5, why in the hell would I want to mix and stir and bake and then I guess...hope they come off the pan intact?

But I still make a lot of things, mostly things that end in cake because cake is supposed to make Bridget feel better, only this time the cake was just the icing on my..cake of a day, I guess.

Ben took me for chicken fingers when he got home and I feel a little better but now I have a stabbing hot poker of a pain in my chest and if I don't find a way soon to not be completely overthrown every time life hands me a curve ball or that big list of things to be done, I think I will implode. Or maybe I'll learn to relax the hard way, like I already do, breathing through panic attacks, wishing I had all my shit together like everyone else seems to, even though I know that's a fallacy on both counts.

I am reading One Day by David Nicholls. In it, the male lead remarks about not having cried for eight years prior to a massive breakdown after visiting his dying mother. Notable to me was not the fact that hey, he has baggage and Christ, what an asshole, but eight years without a tear? Is he a robot?

I don't think I've ever gone eight days. Maybe I'll start keeping track. I mean, I have nothing to prove and I'm not saddled with gender bias when it pertains to visible emotions (hell, if they are visible, I CAN SHOW YOU EVERY LAST ONE) but I could take a stab at not crying for a bit and see what happens, even though I have a tendency to drop big fat blubbery tears in place of any definable emotion. I've always been this way. When I think about Cole or Jacob and how they could talk me down until I had dry eyes and even breaths, I believe it was a gift that the others are learning about as slowly as I adapt to change.

In other words, I'll let you know how that goes too.

So what am I doing tonight? Killing time while I wait for Caleb to arrive. Seeing the new paperwork, payroll and benefits falling into place for the boys, who depend on me when they CLEARLY SHOULDN'T for very important Life Decisions I'm not qualified to make, realizing it's just about mid-week, and the upcoming weekend will be necessary and restorative, and assuring you that you are completely pulled together and awesome, because thank God you're not a little mess too.

Tomorrow will be better, this too shall pass, as they say. Also Caleb is here now, and the first words out of his mouth were How are your tales of woe tonight, princess?

How indeed.

I smiled darkly for him, before telling him I would be just a few more minutes, because he's one of the few who simply embraces me as I am, weird panicky uptight competence and everything. Like a little ball of nervous energy, I'll do just fine. Just don't ask me how I'm doing. Caleb won't ask, he'll just decide.

On my behalf.

Which is fine with me and probably better anyway. Let him pick. Let him choose everything and then maybe someday I won't have to answer for it. Call the shots and hit those targets, and bag yourself a kill girl.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Known for.

Tonight I'm sitting between Ben's knees on the second step down, drinking tea with honey and watching Lochlan fire juggling while he keeps up a steady stream of banter. I am in stitches even though I know all the lines, all the openings he will use to slide seamlessly from one conversation to another, to keep our interest, to keep the hopes for tips alive when the show grows long in the heat, in this day and age of fleeting spans of attention.

But no one ever looks away from him, there's just something about Loch that makes you wish he would pay his attention to you in the form of his lopsided confident grins and his messy, curly red-blonde hair. Even Ben is hanging on every word, for I think Ben finds Lochlan far cuter than he will admit most nights, if at all. But I don't know for sure, they talk in low voices and I miss half of what they say. So I just mostly watch and never listen. Never, ever listen.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

When we were very young (the annual event addition).

When we were teenagers (with trucks, gotta have trucks and then you have it MADE), every September we drove out to CFB Shearwater in a caravan for the air show. Mostly it was a day of walking around bored watching the boys check out the static displays and dehydrating myself into a chapped lather because there would be exactly four portable toilets that would feature lineups so long you might still be there the next fall, if you weren't careful. It was $20 a truckload to get in, and it was an endurance day. But I was always so uncharacteristically excited by the noise and aerobatics, and waited patiently for the planes to take to the skies.

Then the children were born, Shearwater stopped putting on the air shows and well, we found other things to do. We also moved and the Prairies never seemed to know if they wanted to do air shows or not. It was the decade that saw us boarding a lot of planes but rarely watching them fly.

Fast forward to 2010, and we see the listing for an Abbotsford air show.

(Now to begin, no one really knew much about Abbotsford, only that on the map it was out at the other end of the Fraser Valley and that's fine, we're always on the road because this whole lower mainland is spread out like peanut butter on toast and I have doubled the miles on my car since we moved here.)

2010 came and went in a blur and I regretted not investigating this air show until I saw the ad in the paper last Wednesday and realized it was back! We didn't miss it! Come hell or high water, this is what we're doing on Sunday. Which is today!

So we loaded up the children and off we went.

Firstly, $100 a carload means we have hit the classy air show, or something. Times sure do change. Also, pilots don't speak down to me anymore because I am not a surly, giggly teenager, I am someone's mother now, and someone (times two) is climbing through their cockpit/helicopter/parachute so the pilots answer all my questions very patiently. This also might be due to my husband's sometimes-pilot status (recreational only) and the guy that actually owns a whole airplane (Satan) standing nearby, but I prefer to assume that my cute blonde good looks bring all the pilots to the yard (like a milkshake only without the milk. Or the shake. Or anything...okay, moving on.)

I finally got to meet Julie Clark, who has flown in every air show I have ever been to. I declined the funnel cakes near the stands because they were larger than my head, and also completely flat and really...weird looking and it just looked like 4000 calories I would be trying to pawn off on the boys later. I did have a Lemon Heaven lemonade and I caught on quickly. The first cup featured an ENTIRE lemon in it, with hardly any lemonade. The second time Ben went and he came back without the lemon, but with a lovely large thingie of lemonade that was gone in ten seconds. Who puts a whole lemon in a glass? The Lemon Heaven people, that's who.

I also mistakenly visited a (will remain nameless) booth serving poutine. Mistakenly, because yuck. Ben was thrilled with his but Ben never has any standards when it comes to poutine. In fact, give him a raw potato, a packet of fake gravy and a block of cheese and he'll pantomime the whole tequila routine, sucking the cheese, lick the gravy and then swallow the potato whole and declare it to be the Best Thing Ever, but he also eats lip gloss and steering wheels so really, he isn't one to go to for food recommendations. Next time I'll pack a picnic, since the whole "No Coolers" sign by the parking field turned out to be a total and utter lie.

The show was amazing, however, and there were loads of washrooms available (very important when spending eight+ hours at an event) and everything cost an arm, leg or a child so I am completely out of cash and also! burnt to a little crisp again because the sun came out but I was having far too much fun and so I never pay attention to my skin until I am pink and sore all over and Lochlan starts making that face that warns of future painful to the touch lobster princesses but he is also really red tonight so what the heck does he know? Also? Bastard ate a funnel cake.

And I am still jealous.

We learned all our lessons for next year as well. Leave earlier to get there earlier to get a good spot and bring chairs. Bring the cooler. Chips would be good. Sunscreen, sunglasses and hats are necessities and always, always ask questions.

Suspend adulthood, cheer, clap and wave, you uptight fuckwads, and whatever you do, dream about flying.
(Ben took a picture of me taking a picture of the Harvard. What a cute little plane)

And funnel cakes. Dream about the funnel cakes. Next year, I'm getting one. 2012. Be there or be horribly, sadly deprived.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Go and tell the King.

(Lady luck, be on my side.)

Today has been a series of three steps forward and two back. Just when I get all caught up the sky begins to sag dangerously around the edges and I adopt my Chicken Little voice, uptight, choked-off, hope we can hold it together just a little longer, no-flights-must-fight stance.

It's rather painful and I am the absolute mistress of Blowing Shit Out of Proportion.

But never mind, it will work out because no one is out to get me and the worst case scenarios can be overcome and I'm hopefully a little panicky over nothing. Hopefully, said in a whisper, fingers crossed behind my back, though I have a headache and a bottle of gin at the ready because I refuse to worry about things anymore and I think part of the fun of life is supposed to involve having a running agenda of Things That Must Be Dealt With but really? That's fucking stupid. I'm more in the camp that does everything that has to be done and then schedules downtime. I guess you can imagine how well that works out, most of the time, right?


I have to admit I've been a little (okay, a lot) nervous about the changes, about the boys working for Batman instead of Caleb. I know Caleb so much better. I can handle him. Batman is still mostly an unknown entity to me. I mean, he knows ME through and through but as far as he goes, well, I am in the dark, mostly by choice, because it made life easier to conduct it without strings, obligations or expectations when it came to him.

So that leaves me a little unsure. A lot hopeful, yes, but once again I find myself leaping carelessly across the chasm, eyes welded shut, teeth gritted in anticipation of what could be a soft landing, if luck is on my side.

And I have never asked her if she is. On my side, that is. Sometimes I'm one hundred percent sure we are a pair, matched forever and sometimes she just up and disappears and returns much later. After the shrapnel has rocked to a stop in a wide radius, she stands looking around innocently, maddeningly saying There was nothing I could have done so how could you have missed me in the first place, Bridget? Those days I swear I'm disowning her and I throw things and cry toward her direction but she stands firm. Other times I turn around to run away and she's right there with such a confident expression and she'll reach forward and pinch me very hard and smile and say stupid, amazing things like See? There was nothing to worry about, was there? I nod, sure she can't stand up to the sort of luck I require now, as I rub my arm where she twisted my thin skin in her strong fingers.

So I give myself a little pep talk and I vow I won't worry so much but then I do and it's pretty much my standard operating procedure and boy, it sure drives everyone crazy but then in a few weeks I can hopefully come back and read these words and have that reassurance that yeah, it all pretty much worked out and really I devote way too much energy to my fear of the inevitable, the uncontrollable and the eventually unimportant.

I'm going to teach myself how to stop that. I'm just not sure how yet. I'll figure it out eventually and you all will be so proud.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Last night, he explained to someone else as I watched the water intently, that I was something of a Sea Witch and that no one knew or loved the ocean more.

I should have been insulted, maybe, it seems like such an odd turn of phrase. I don't believe I've ever used it, nor have I read of it past a fleeting reference in The Little Mermaid when Ruth was a baby, but instead it left me somewhat gratified in knowing that sometimes when I feel like I might get left behind and will have to fight to catch up, he really does know me very well indeed.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Safety Loop.

(Let's continue with escapes into nostalgia, just for today, okay?)
Stuttering, cold and damp
feel the warm wind, tired friend
Times are gone for honest men
And sometimes far too long
For snakes in my shoes
A walking sleep
And my youth I pray to keep
Heaven send Hell away
No one sings like you anymore
Hang my head, drown my fear
Till you all just disappear
It was a total fluke and yet there I was. Dressed in leggings and a skin-tight t-shirt while they put chaulk on my hands, forearms, knees and feet. Hair in a bun and secured seven times over. It will take me the better part of an hour to find all the elastic bands and bobby pins used. Enough makeup to rival the clowns. It took Lochlan scrubbing my face for an hour with soap to get it all off later.

Zero risk, for the net is tight and the lines have been triple checked by Reza and then by Lochlan, three times in fact. I cannot die on Lochlan's watch, he says or he will never forgive himself. At the same time he is fairly grinning with stupidity and anticipation.

Reza put his hands on my shoulders. I am paying strict attention. He looks stern. I want to make him relax so I tell him that I am listening.

You will fly, Breegeet.
(Everything is heavily accented in Reza's universe.) Enjoy eet.

My brain kinks, badly. These are my instructions? I turn and give the goofy-fear face to Lochlan who steps in and tells me to start swinging and then bring my legs up through my arms and simply slide backwards, letting go with my hands while continuing to hold on with my knees. The moment I feel the hands on my arms I am to disengage my knees and I will swing from Reza's hands. If I fail to pull away from the swing, I am going to fall forty feet. There is no alternative. Too many steps. Can't compute.

I shake my head when he asks me if I understand and tell him I'm going to be sick.

He laughs. Pukey-excited or pukey-scared?


Then go with excited. It's going to be amazing.

The acrobat I might be replacing got pregnant and ran away with the hired accountant. Currently no one is paying us until the owner arrives and yet the show must go on. I am fourteen years old now and I feel as if I have this huge responsibility to entertain the entire town sufficiently or all will be for naught and we have worked so hard here.

(Daily I am remind to tell people I am nineteen, if asked. The circus was not the midway, I have to be of age here and I'm so not prepared. Looking back at photographs I defy anyone to believe my age unless they were blind. Some of them were, though, in our defense, since they gave us lots of money for what I would call disposable memories. Being in the circus is like being a court jester. You are employed to entertain the passive crowd, who watch. That's it. It isn't hard if you are good at what you do. But this is different. The stakes are high with this act. Forty feet, to be exact.)

Lochlan kisses my forehead and whispers that he loves me. I am biting my lip and too nervous to speak. I think I have changed my mind and I'll go back to calling for the games and running for whoever needs me and filling in wherever I can for the show instead of being one of the main attractions.

I think I'd rather run away too right now but this is away. This is escape and the imaginary place where nothing ever goes wrong, only everything has already gone wrong, Bridget and here I stand risking what they say is nothing but in reality it's everything and I have a long way to go before I crawl out of this hole of recklessness and an inability to outwardly panic and gee, I hope that they notice soon and save me from myself because I seem to have it in for me.
And then I flew. And I fell. And then I did it eight more times until I wasn't crawling out of the net on my hands and knees, rope biting against my skin like barbed wire, muscles flexed and aching, mind soaring. I didn't know what to think of this.

Well done, Breegeet! A star iz born!

I didn't hear Reza. That's what Lochlan told me he said.

All I heard was the wind at the top of the tent, a delicious, frightening song just for me. When my feet touched the ground for the last time on that very last night of that show, I knew this was not the life for me, even though I did go back when I became an adult, for a time.

Just to make sure.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

No colors anymore.

I see a line of cars and they're all painted black
With flowers and my love, both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a newborn baby it just happens every day

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes
Leisurely mornings, now. Ben's schedule has altered once again so that we wake up at six and play for the better part of the first hour of the day, held tightly in each other's arms, rocked through the sunrise and into the morning, proper. He puts his hand over my mouth and I won't make a sound, and he leaves me wanting for nothing before turning me out of the sheets and into my day, a good twelve hours before I can return to his arms like a slow-motion boomerang girl, bent in just the right places, met and scrubbed clean in the hot water before returning to the sheets in the dark. Days are long and as usual he is the last one in through the front door at night.

Late in the evenings Ben returns, his slow grin hiding behind the day's fatigue. Happy to see me. Happy to be home. We usually have a quiet dinner alone together in the kitchen. I wait and cook for the two of us after everyone else has eaten and drifted off to evening pursuits around the house and grounds. We tell each other about our days and then he goes to see the others while I finish cleaning up the kitchen and get the children tucked into their beds to read until ten or shortly before. If he makes it back before I am finished he'll pick up his guitar and play for me while I hurry around the kitchen and then just as quickly I pull it all together and then he replaces the guitar in the case and holds his arms out wide, pulling me into them, where I stay for the remainder of the dark.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Frankly (because it's hot and I'm really cranky).

In lieu of current, former and future drama let's cut right to the chase.

Lattes and Cappuccinos? They're the same thing. Don't tell me different, you twenty-year-old coffee uh...'aficionados'. It's all bullshit anyway and the only reason you drink it is to appear grown-up, just like I did when I started college and all the boys had jobs and I walked around the University campus trying to make friendships with my bag in one hand and a coffee in the other. That was in the day before we had Starbucks in Canada and there was no Tim Hortons for miles. We got our coffee out of a vending machine. It was $1.80 which was a virtual fortune so I only did it a couple of times a week.

Oh, look, I just made one of those walked-to-school-uphill-both-ways-in-the-snow stories, didn't I? That's fine, nobody cares, I am tired and back to afternoon coffee so I don't fall asleep in the fridge while cooking dinner.

Also but unrelated, I still miss McDonald's pizza. And pizza on a stick from the Red River Ex, oddly enough. And pizza corner pizza in Halifax. Now feel lucky you know me, for I truly am one of a kind. Ghetto coffee and lowbrow pizza. You really can take the girl out of the midway, but you can't take the midway out of her diet, apparently. (Seriously. Ask Lochlan precisely why I'm so short and he will tell you my growth was stunted with a diet of candy necklaces and lake water. The occasional cream soda and those disgusting carnival hotdogs. If I never see another hot dog as long as I live it will be too soon.)

Back to my nap. Standing up. Mid-conversation possibly.

(For those asking, yesterday's post stands. I'm not confirming if it was last Saturday night or years ago. The time frame has little bearing on anything when it comes to Satan, and I'm not taking it down just because they said it would be better if I did.)

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Numbed down.

Cole is painting again. A beautiful day and the curtains are drawn tight against the sun. He has a gooseneck lamp clipped to the side of his easel and he keeps moving it around, trying to find a play on the weird shadows it casts across his canvas.

I am curled on the couch, eating popcorn. Watching him watch me as he tries to work, knowing he's bullshitting, an easy grin proving his good mood. He isn't taking anything seriously tonight in his too-long chestnut hair and his baggy paint-streaked 501s. He didn't put on a shirt this morning, we rolled out of bed stark naked and ate cereal in the kitchen without clothes and then he pulled on the jeans thinking he would get dressed at last but I stole his t-shirt and put it on for warmth. Until we opened the curtains the sun would not warm the room. We didn't touch them.

He walks over to me, yanking up the t-shirt. I grip the bowl of popcorn tightly so it doesn't fly everywhere. Take that off and I'll paint you.

No way. Not naked. I don't want everyone to see it.

You have nothing to be ashamed of.

It's not shame. You don't keep your paintings.

Why do you care if someone wants to buy a portrait of a nude girl?

Because it's me.

They won't know it's you.

I'll know it's me.

You don't see yourself the way I see you. He smiles again. He's very gentle with my conscious self. He's eager to rebuild my self-esteem. Starting from scratch, we've got a long way to go. Perhaps I'll just fake it instead. I stretch out and set the bowl on the floor in an effort to prove I'm not self-conscious at all and he joins me on the couch, pulling up my shirt as I pull his jeans down. Soon I am the canvas, covered with paint, awash in a light of potential.


I don't know why I remembered that morning as I lay in bed this morning, staring into the mirrored closet doors. White sheets, white everything. Nothing to distract from the outstanding, breathtaking view through the windows of the water, sunshine sparkling on the waves.

There is popcorn all over the floor. I throw the sheet away from my skin and stretch lightly. I wonder if I look the same or if I look like I feel, paint now faded, muted pastel, potential wasted or spent or wherever it eventually goes, youth abandoned on squares of a calendar crossed off one at a time, hours in between. I close my eyes and leave the sheets off, willing myself to fall back to sleep and instead his voice breaks through my peaceful memories, as they have snuck up on me so quietly today. Good memories of Cole are like shooting stars, sometimes I get them all at once, sometimes weeks or even months pass without a smile aimed toward his image.

That analogous voice speaks again, startling me back into the white room. My eyes fly open and I see him in the mirror. He's in his 501s and nothing but, to read the papers in on the balcony. Not quite the same voice but as close as I will ever get again.

So glad to see you feel comfortable.

I reach down and yank the sheet up, fantasy now obscured. It's not as if he hasn't seen everything, I just prefer not to be so exposed anymore. I am forever raw and uncovered as it is, my heart flayed open for all to see what's left of it and what's left in it, so a little modesty is so little to ask for. A little dignity, but I would not be permitted that. I threw it off the balcony last night, followed by my consciousness, and what's left is a vague headache and a fuzzy memory of nothing more than the black velvet ribbons he keeps in the drawer and the lousy excuses he forwards to the house, tucked in neatly besides.

At my request all eyes are blind, all words left unspoken and history gets temporarily suspended so that I can have a moment in my life that contains things I regret walking away from, in spite of the need to do so. I show up, take a drink from his hand and shortly thereafter I forget my own name. Who wouldn't do that for a few hours with a ghost? Who wouldn't take the chances given to turn back the clock even if it meant destroying the present and preventing the future?

Clearly you don't know me at all. That's okay. Today I don't know me either. I forgot sometime around eleven o'clock last night and each time reality takes a little longer to come back. I find a piece of popcorn just above my pillow and I eat it for breakfast, a little bird with a treasure, a tiny gift of kindness in a loud and scary world. Maybe I'll come back for more treats. Maybe I'll be scared away for good.

It all depends.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Come face to face with it
Pushed on your side
Lose all your self control
Worlds will collide

Witness the fall from grace
You shed your skin
Change if it pleases you
Just don't give in

Quiet now she said
you're waking up the dead
I cradle the excuse
In love with the abuse so
I handle it with ease
it's a dignified disease
Slow down

Soul searching breaks you down
You'll never learn
Annihilate yourself
All things must burn
The music is so loud I can't hear myself think. Oh, that's right. I'm not supposed to think anymore.

He is finishing a Bombay gin and tonic. That's my drink tonight only I didn't touch it. I don't need to touch anything. I don't need to lift a finger or hear a sound. I just need to make it through until morning.

Business as usual.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Red like a fifty dollar bill (aka I hate my friends).

Where I am in the vineyard is invisible from the house, patio, balcony, driveway and pretty much anywhere else, tucked down between the thick, overgrown vines with my tiny jackknife blade open, culling them back so that they expend all of their energy into the grapes and little more into lengthening, choking vines. We don't even know what we're doing but it's fun growing fruit in the backyard. If the local wildlife don't make off with the bunches like they did last year, I plan to make wine. Wine or something resembling wine, anyway.

Having offered to help, Ben works in the row next to mine. We trade hushed words in sporadic bursts but mostly remain quiet, content to feel the beads of sweat rolling down our temples and down our backs under our clothes in the hot sun, I in my sky blue strappy sundress with his black cowboy perched on the back of my head, he in that amazing kilt and a thin white tshirt.

For the better part of fifteen minutes now he has been teasing me about christening the vineyard.

I tell him he is crazy and awful and the grapes will die and the vines will shrivel up and suck back into the ground in a whoosh, leaving us exposed and naked for the world to see.

He laughs, the sound traveling out over the water and then he asks exactly how much I will wager on my scenario.

I pick a number out of his cowboy hat, which he plunked onto my head as we were walking out the door. It's been hanging on a hook since the move. It might help slow the proliferation of freckles across my nose and prevent the ridiculous pink sunburnt cheeks I get.


So you're going to give me fifty dollars if I can get away with this without anyone knowing.

Yes. The money's in my bag. Good luck to you.

He abruptly stops cutting and puts his knife down. The smile on his face could melt granite. He stands up and walks down to the end of his row, turns and comes up the row where I sit in the dust. He reaches down and takes my knife from me gently and then tosses it on the ground halfway back down the row. He reaches down again and takes my wrists, pushing me to the ground, blocking out the sun.


An hour later we trudge back up to the house, hand in hand, Ben picking leaves and dirt out of my hair as we go. He is wearing the cowboy hat, I am holding up one strap on my dress, and we're both beyond filthy. PJ looks up as we walk in through the back door, off the kitchen. Andrew is busy typing on his phone. Gage smiles broadly.

All finished? (They start laughing.)

Fuckers. Ben is laughing. I'm flushing from embarrassment while I try to pin the strap together on my dress temporarily.

Andrew puts down his phone. He is so dry. At least now we have a name for the wine.

What's that?

Dudes Saw Everything Cabernet.

Ben makes a suggestion. Look Away Next Time Zinfandel?

PJ throws in his offering. Don't forget She Blushes Blush.

I find some sort of control and speak up at last. I don't really know whether to laugh or cry. That's a Rosé, PJ. You need red grapes for that.

Oh, they're red now, princess. Trust me on that. Just like you.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Just hush while I put it somewhere because there isn't any room and it's heavy.

(This is just..nothing for you. Unless you like to read in circles.)

I am feeling better today, thank you. My nursemaid has red hair and a stern gaze and I bet he looks just like The Joker in a nurse's uniform except he'd be missing the 'crazy' as an accessory. Or would he?

I need to backtrack a little here.

We are back. Back to reality. Back to alarm clocks and packed lunches and parking passes and navigating payroll and new jobs, new bosses, new offices and no time.

Lochlan came home Monday night and picked a fight and I am stung but cognizant of his efforts to push me away so I don't mortally wound him with my actions, even in absentia. When Lochlan goes away Caleb fills in his place, sliding smoothly into first, taking over memories, attempting to top up his brainwashing, trying to talk me into all the bad things I don't want but sometimes do, in my deepest, darkest thoughts, and sweet-talking Benjamin into all sorts of games for the three of us, better left unexplained here. Therefore when Lochlan returns hell does indeed break loose because before he drove down the drive beside the house hell was neatly contained in my eyes and now it's plum everywhere.

From all directions, fireworks set into the undersides of clouds to be blown directly into earth, explosions, lights and noise deafening me, dropping me out of my skin down into the gutter where the hardcore boys play, they fired their sweetest deals, hitting home. Headshots, deadshots, I don't think I have any right to hear these things when I'm not planning on changing anything. There's enough change without me adding to the fray. There's enough misery without them turning screws and tightening the holds they keep on me, respectively.

Caleb was not predictable. Instead of his usual dry suggestion that things could be easier he found me around four Sunday morning, standing in front of the fridge. I am wearing his shirt and drinking orange juice straight from the bottle.

He takes the bottle from me and gets two glasses and we sit at the island in the kitchen and never once do I say a word while he tells me things could be different. We could travel anywhere I want. I would have time. Time with him. Alone. Time to process. To breathe. To choose the life I want. To exist within the past or the present, my choice.

He could return to his role as the good brother, hell, he could be whatever I want. Even Cole. Whatever your little heart desires, he said, over and over as if that were even possible. Finally I turned to him and asked him again to just bring the dead back to life and then leave me the hell alone. His response was to get up and walk out on me, which made me feel small and ungrateful but not guilty in the least. When I'm sober, when it's daylight, he isn't Cole and that's enough to tinge our dark whiskey-soaked nights with sadness but sometimes it's enough to pass for almost real and that's where I find the trouble, a fast-moving river you can swim in or drown by, your choice.

Maybe that's what he's counting on.

Lochlan's outburst was the polar opposite, by divine design, out of habit, into familiar roles. We know all the words. Less than half of our exchange is out loud. His plea is one borne out of simplicity. Let him give me his name and he will see that nothing ever happens again. Everything bad will go away and we will return to the unlikely world in which cotton candy is a food group and we have nothing but the clothes on our backs and the love in our hearts. We will breathe in the lights and eat the present, we'll grow fat on basic happiness and keep true to our words and to our plan. The plan, Bridgie. Everything could fall into place so easily and you would never ever cry again. Everything standing in our way would become a distant memory.

I cock my head curiously. I sometimes take liberty to imagine what things would be like if I did that and then I remember exactly what happens when you take a pure-hearted, barely educated red-headed unpredictably-temperamental Scotsman and ask him to compromise. I remember the fights. I remember the resentment and I remember that weird sick feeling of missing him so badly when he would be away from me, wishing he would get swallowed by the sunset when he rode his motorcycle west. I remember how I agreed with him when he told me we would never have a peaceful relationship and we would probably fight to the bitter end, but that he would love me more than anyone else ever in the whole wide world and even if I had to let go of everything else, he always would.

For the record, I still believe he does, and maybe that's what he's counting on.

But neither of them are counting on this. When I step to the side, you can clearly see Ben, sitting in a chair, table still strewn with dinner dishes and guitar picks. He has his headphones on, head bowed and he's playing, playing, playing, nonstop, he is broken and ruined and a perfect match for what's left of me. When we fight, it's important, when we cry it's painful and when we love it's for always. It fits and it's not for want of memories or an easier life or anything other than the fact that I love his face and his brain and his broad shoulders and ridiculous sense of humor and his sense of romance too.

He's reassuring when you don't think it's manageable and he's not the least bit worried about Caleb or Loch. He's just trying to figure out the bridge in the goddamned song and then maybe we can go to bed. Or maybe we'll make some toast. Or maybe we'll watch a movie or read books side by side or maybe we'll rip all the sheets off the bed when he smiles that smile that melts my knees into my toes. Maybe we'll fight and then fall asleep halfway through making up. Maybe he'll ban Caleb from the universe and then Lochlan will follow close behind. Maybe the sky will still be blue when I wake up tomorrow and maybe the status quo works just fine too, thank you. He is generous and not nearly as possessive as they are. If you can even believe it, it's true.

Maybe here the river swells and pools into shallow dips in the rock, maybe here we float lazily downstream for a bit. Catch our breath. Cool our toes. Block out the noise. Block out the words. Just for a bit.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


Lochlan took one look at my face when he walked into the kitchen and immediately crossed to me, putting his hand on my forehead.

How do you feel?

Tired. My teeth hurt.

Yeah, you're burning up. He frowned. I know it's just this ridiculous flu/cold thing hanging on. I have to get a little more rest and good food into me before I can shake it, I think. Now that we're returning to a normal sort of routine it might get easier but so far things are still a little strange and new. My favorites! No, actually I love Strange. New? Not so much unless it comes in the form of new people.

They look so incredulous when Lochlan gets parental with me and if you know of our thirty-eight-year history you don't even blink. If you don't know of it then you would think he is weirdly gentle and attentive and concerned and maybe somewhat overachievish.

Gage was sort of standing there watching the exchange and Lochlan looked up and clued in and said Look at the red lines across the bridge of her nose and her watery eyes. She's running a high fever.

Gage nodded in understanding and then said that I seemed fine, I was in and out all day, keeping up, etc. Lochlan nodded too. Yeah, she won't stop moving until she drops so you wouldn't know by her actions.

Gage remained impressed, I believe. He'll catch on as fast. He understands the proximity of our moods and our germs even. Lochlan and the rest will likely be sick by Sunday. The thermometer has proclaimed me to be 103 degrees of hotly awesome. My earrings are melting and so I get to miss Slayer and Rob Zombie. In a way I'm a little glad. The concert will get out just as the Celebration of Lights is over so instead of the usual crush of twelve thousand people leaving a place at once, there will be three hundred thousand people headed home. And, well?

No, thank you. Doubly no when sick.

Ben, PJ, August, Corey, Duncan and Andrew went anyway. Crowds don't bother them. Neither do germs, apparently. A hotly-awesome sausage fest, if you ask me but..

...I don't remember where I'm going with this, since my brain is deep-frying. Goodnight.

Princess down.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Or to put it the way PJ described, "She's flouncing around slamming things with a pout so big her lips are, quite possibly, balloons."

You know how you sort of clear the entire day to do something and then you mentally pencil in the other remaining free days to tackle other projects? Yes, well, not only did I navigate the groceries with the children and PJ in tow but we were home by eleven. And then from eleven until three I chipped away dutifully at tomorrow's big ticket item. I did not finish it but that's a four hour headstart and that's good for something, right?

Yeah, well, kiss my ass then. It's been a really long day.

The boys started working for Batman. I'm mostly missing them and hideously short on words as a result because if I start thinking about things too much I'll implode and then there will be little bits of Bridget everywhere and they'll be gathering them up for hours and it wastes a lot of time so yes, I think I'll go put in another hour on my project and then I'll be that much further ahead.

Or something.

I really miss Ben. I had him home for five weeks. It was amazing. We did NOTHING for vacation. Well, we built a fence and some gates and went to the beach and the lake and had some dinners out and lunches and we cooked and we laughed and we slept and we watched films and listened to music and it was just totally awesome and wonderful and so today

PJ would like me to thank him for putting up with me.


You rule.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Highway 99.

I'm heading out for a drive. Lochlan will be home from his solo camping trip in an hour. I have Caleb's car on loan and all my memories knotted safely along a baby pink shoelace, tied around my wrist. I'll head up the highway along the ocean and back and then hopefully when I get home Lochlan will be here. Hopefully Caleb won't. Maybe I'll be home early. Maybe I'll be home late. All I know is I need to get away sometimes too and even vacationing inside my head just doesn't cut it.

It's the boys' last day off. Tonight the bubble bursts and tomorrow they're all owned by fucking Batman and I still don't know if this is better or worse.