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.