(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.