Monday, 31 October 2011

Nine white shirts to iron and put away.

This would be a love story, and for once it isn't mine. Come celebrate with me and I'll tell you a few things about our weekend.
I read bad poetry into your machine
I save your messages just to hear your voice.
You always listen carefully to awkward rhymes.
You always say your name like I wouldn't know it's you,
At your most beautiful.

I've found a way to make you
I've found a way
a way to make you smile

At my most beautiful I count your eyelashes secretly.
With every one, whisper I love you.
I let you sleep.
I know your closed eye watching me, listening.
I thought I saw a smile.
The men made their way across the beach slowly, quietly in the sunrise, the rain dancing off the tops of their black umbrellas and spit-shined shoes, dampening the sunshine but not the mood, as we all teetered on the edge of a newfound joy tinged with grace and gratitude. A strange place to be, as this wedding represents a new beginning for the entire collective. Change. Growth. Bravery, too.

Love. Always love above all else.

Ben clutched my hand against his chest while we waited and then when Sam gave him the signal he raised my hand to his lips, kissed it firmly and squeezed hard. He passed me into Lochlan's arm and retreated with Sam to the woods. Sam returned almost instantly and nodded to Corey, who began to play his guitar.

He played their song slowly, quietly. We turned to see Ben and Daniel emerge from the woods, their arms around each other's shoulders. Walking side by side, intent in whatever final words are exchanged between an older brother to his younger sibling. It was as if we weren't even there. As they passed us, Daniel paused and grabbed me up in a bear hug, smashing a kiss against my temple. We laughed and he let go, continuing forward to Sam and Schuyler.

Schuyler was waiting, a shy smile lurking under his pale beard, his hair curling in the humidity.

Schuyler was singing.

Clear as a bell. Corey had stopped only I hadn't realized. He kept looking down but the smile never left. Nerves. Uncharacteristic nerves. He needs to do right by everyone, there will be no room for bullshit. If anyone can rise to this moment, it's Schuy.

Daniel and Schuyler joined hands on the last three words and faced each other, Sam framed behind them. He talked about love being patient and kind. Ben returned to us, taking me back into his arms. I leaned against his soft suit coat and watched the exchange of vows. The rings. A tender kiss and a surprisingly manly embrace and then we were all rushing in for a group hug and I was buried in a crush of strong arms and had to duck out underneath to breathe. Daniel held himself together throughout and so I lost a thousand dollar bet that I was sure I would win.

Laughter and tears were in long supply on this day. We walked back to the main house where the champagne was already flowing. Cake, music, food and dancing followed until we couldn't dance or drink any more. The party lasted two nights under the cool crescent moon, on the grounds of the residence, decorated with pumpkins and black candelabras and scarecrows. Colored leaves fell endlessly, adding to the decorations. The reception included making our own masks, which quickly turned into making the ones we thought each other should have.

We danced. We danced and twirled under the moon and then under the sun. Why would the party end when it didn't have to? Not yet, anyway. We ate spiced carrot cake and had some tea and pancakes and then went back to dancing again, trading partners, trading pictures, trading wishes for happiness that bubbled up from deep inside somewhere I thought might have gotten lost. We sat bundled in blankets and watched Daniel and Schuyler dance together, nose to nose, smiles hardly contained on their faces, coattails discarded and one mask still shoved up on top of Schuyler's head until I finally pulled it off him sometime on Saturday evening.

I don't think I've ever been to a wedding with a two-day reception before but everyone they loved was there, people came and people went and the core group of us became fixtures of the days and nights, organizing meals and taking turns playing DJ and making impromptu speeches without any microphones, the sound amplified by the tears that flowed so freely.

It was perfect. It rained half the time, the endless drizzle shorting out at least seven sets of the tiny white and orange lights we strung the day before, and it didn't matter. I finally understand the protectiveness they all feel toward each other. The panicked need to make everything perfect, to keep each other safe, to make sure nothing could possible derail a memory that is so important.

The fervent wish for things to be right.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

You missed me, didn't you?

We are home.

I need to unpack, do a whole lot of laundry, carve pumpkins (I wrote crave pumpkins three times there before I could get it straight and now I can't stop laughing) and maybe sleep for the first time since about last Monday.


Good times. Such good times.

So...more tomorrow! Thanks for your patience. Sorry for the mixed up emails to those of you who got responses tonight. I'm really not good at coming back down to earth, am I?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Save the date (October 28, 2011).

I always wonder why did we bother,
Distanced from one, deaf to the other.
Oh but sweetness follows
It's these little things, they can pull you under.
Live your life filled with joy and wonder.
I always knew this altogether thunder
Was lost in our little lives.
Everything is in. Everything is done. I've flipped the last latch, buckled the cases, triple-confirmed all the deliveries, crossed off the list and I stick my notes between my teeth while I struggle to hang on to Ben's hand and zip up Henry's backpack at the same time. We walk out on the tarmac and the children run ahead to the tiny plane and I roll my eyes. I hate this aircraft. It feels like a tin-can with my fate rattling around on the inside. It feels like certain death only it's better than flying commercial because I have become spoiled and rotten and wealthy beyond what most people will ever see and yet I would trade it in an instant for an old Kawasaki and fistful of midway tickets because I don't think I deserve this. Not a minute of it.

We're flying out now. Flying to a remote island owned by someone with more money than I will ever be able to fathom who deals favors like cards and owes us this time and we'll take it and make more memories and dry the tears from Daniel's face as he says his vows to Schuyler and I hope to God they remember this forever because for some reasons those precise moments tend to get lost in the day.

We'll dance and sing and eat and drink and cry and forget that we have all this history for once and we'll work together to make good memories. Sometimes those get lost too, in the hierarchy of all the wrongs and all the water under the bridges. We have to learn that putting the good things first is better.

I traded dresses again. A last minute request from Ben, who reached into the closet and pulled out the most delicate blush pink cocktail dress and asked if I would wear it instead of the black. He thinks it will look better in photographs, I think he loves pink, secretly because it looks less harsh against my alabaster skin and blue-marble veins. He would be right but the contrast against his dark suit, eyes and hair will be jarring all the same, like it is in every photograph of us. Opposites attract, they say, which is how Daniel and Schuyler came to this place where we are all going to get to have a hand in the first day of their future together.

I am so excited even this tin can with wings can't take away my happiness. And that's saying something. I really hate flying lately. And I have a perfectly good oceanside bluff at home just begging for a wedding ceremony but WHATEVER, BOYS.

Everything is going to be okay.

I love you both so very much.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Heads or tails.

I sat in the corner trying not to laugh while the boys have the final fittings of their suits. The tailors kept asking me if I was excited. Finally one of them asked point-blank how it felt to be the bride because I seemed so calm. I smiled and pointed to Daniel.

He's the bride.

That was all the encouragement they needed to go full-on flattery to the boys instead of being so professional it was almost uncomfortable. They started to fuss over Daniel and Schuyler as if they were celebrities, and when they found out Ben was giving Daniel away they asked who was going to give Ben away and could they make offers because they would take him if he's available.

Oh, dear. Help me.

Someone made the joke from Bridesmaids, about climbing him like a tree. By now I am smiling helplessly because they've turned the music up louder and this has become a bit of a party and I am so not cut out for wedding planning even though I think I could do it in my sleep at this point. This is the fifth one I have organized, if you count three of my own and Sam's. Our track record is deplorable, only one of the four couples is still together and that's only because God hasn't found a way to kill Ben yet without it being blatantly obvious that he's shooting firebolts at my life for some perceived slight at this point.

My advice to anyone planning a wedding? Skip ninety percent of what they tell you you NEED and spend it on something you want. Also? Make it yours. Because nothing is worse than a cookie-cutter classic wedding in which you can predict everything right down to the colors and nothing reflects the happy couple except for the gleam on the teeth of the smiling, well-paid impersonal wedding coordinator.

Our own next-time will be different. Ben's been threatening to organize a renewal of our vows. Probably for our fifth anniversary if God doesn't catch him first and take him out. I'll let him plan it since he takes my breath away with the quietest moments. And now if Daniel would just stop crying all the time we could get this show on the road. Yeesh. He's a big leaking fool. Thank heavens he is so adorable or I would smack him right now and tell him to smarten up.

(Also in news!! The dress! It fits! Mine, silly. Daniel isn't wearing a dress. He should be. That would be awesome. They have morning coats, or as I spelled them for the first two weeks, mourning coats. Sorry. Couldn't help it, that sort of thing just happens. And yes, of course the coats are black. Why do you ask?)

Monday, 24 October 2011

Cue the hero, please.

He's already given me his hoodie. I am wrapped up in it, hood up, hands pulled back into the sleeves, warm and comfortable. I'm watching Lochlan alternate between emptying his beer bottle and making paper airplanes to sail off the cliff. I'm sitting on the Adirondack chair a good ten feet back from the cliff. He is sitting on the edge. I don't worry that he'll tumble over the edge, I figure I've already beat the odds on tragedy for a while.

He's been lighting the airplanes on fire before he flies them for close to an hour. I lost count somewhere after sixteen or maybe eighteen planes. He's talking quietly. I can't hear him, he's facing the other direction. I am getting unrelated ramblings and disjointed cursewords and loving diatribes aimed painfully right at the center of my being. It's nothing new. I'm a little concerned he's going to set his hair on fire, that's about it. Otherwise I'm enjoying the moon, the stars and the flames as they spiral down into the sea. I'm trying not to focus intently on the words. I'm trying not to focus on the past. Lochlan thought the past would save him. Funny how one man's ruin is another's salvation.

Abruptly I am lifted to my feet. Ben's chin appears when I look straight up over my head and he doesn't let go.

Been looking for you for twenty minutes, Bee.

Lochlan stands up. You should have checked with me, she's usually within reach.

Ben nods and looks out over the water. Probably considering pushing both of us over the cliff. How easy life would be after that moment. Except it wouldn't be. He'd spend the rest of it in jail. It would just be one more thing to tie Lochlan and I together for all eternity.

One more thing. A last straw, plucked from a strawman that Ben has created as a defense for his temper, because I chose him and I continue to choose him even while he shoves me away and then denies it and takes everyone else to task for filling in.

Yeah, thanks, brother.

Ben picks the high road, surprisingly, bringing me along, grabbing my hand, pulling me back up the walkway to the house. He stops halfway and strips Lochlan's hoodie off me, leaving it on the concrete, and takes off his own flannel shirt, wrapping me in it and tying the sleeves in a knot around me instead of waiting for me to find them to shove my arms inside. I laugh and he smiles at last and puts his arm around me, steering me back up to the house, back through the warm, softly lit hallways until we reach our room.

He tells me that he's taken a couple of weeks away from his latest project to spend some time with me, to help me navigate the next two weeks as I drop into year five. Already. I wasn't sure he remembered that today marks exactly four years since Jacob walked out on me but Ben always seems to remember everything and he steps in to shoulder the heavy load just when everyone else runs out of patience and begins to check their watches.

Ben doesn't wear a watch. He wants to know what it's for.

To tell the time
, I say.

Tell it to do what?
He always responds with a twisted grin. He doesn't give a shit. He never will.

This morning he buried us in pillows on the couch, cued up a list of old movies and locked the door. He fell asleep, holding my hand, halfway through A Place in the Sun with a slurred instruction not to move until he wakes up.

I hope it's soon. He's going to miss North by Northwest. That's his favorite.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Peter Cetera was singing about what he would do the next time he fell in love. Apparently I wasn't taking notes.

I was an alarming sight when he found me, sitting in the back of the pickup truck, holding my crown in one fist and a bottle of vodka in the other. I was at least two sheets to the wind, my mascara was exiting my face at a rapid pace, and my prom dress was edged with grease. I kicked my shoes off in my efforts to climb into the back of the truck unnoticed. So barefoot, drunk and clearly out of my league.

What a little prize of a prom queen. And the prom king was the eighteen-year-old soon-to-graduate captain of the football team. We made a fairytale couple in pictures but in reality I hardly knew him. He was a little too old for me, and too busy to have much more than arm candy for a girlfriend anyway, and I wasn't looking for a poster-boyfriend, I just wanted to get back at Lochlan for ruining my life by moving on. Dumping me during fair week and taking up with every older girl who looked at him sideways, and trust me, they all did. The way his hair turns strawberry blonde in summer, coupled with the easy smile, charming accent and free-wheeling independent life on the midway, who would refuse?

And he dated every last one of them, sometimes several at once, sometimes running weeks with one in particular, breaking hearts up and down the east coast all goddamned fall and through the winter into the spring and now here it was May again and I was fifteen finally and he would soon be twenty. Here was another summer staring us in the face, but this one promising pain instead of our customary welcome escape from reality.

While he stared me in the eye, I held up my middle fingers together in front of my face and fell over sideways against the wheel hump. I would have sworn at him but I couldn't remember the words.

He hopped up into the truck bed easily and sat down beside me, propping me up against his shoulder. He looked up into the stars. I put my head on his shoulder and he reached out and touched my face. He took the bottle from me and took a long drink.

What in the hell are you doing here, peanut?

Living up to my duties as the youngest prom queen in the history of this school.

I see that. How is it working for you?

Clearly I am a natural.

He laughed in spite of his dismay and asked again. What are you really doing?

Paying you back for leaving me.

By getting drunk?

By sleeping with the captain of the team. I'm popular now, I don't need anyone to judge me.

You slept with him?

Yesterday. What are you up to now? Dozens? Hundreds?

Jesus, Bridget. That was payback? Come on, we're leaving. He jumped back out of the truck and stood beside it.

No, you're leaving. You don't go to the school and you don't have an invitation so that means you're trespassing. I have to go back inside anyway. People will wonder where I am.

I see their concern, where are they? Yeah, INSIDE. I'm not letting you go back in there in this condition, Bridget. You're fifteen. They're too old for you.

Like you are, you mean? Fuck you, okay, Lochlan? Fuck you. You couldn't take the pressure and you left me to deal with all of it and I've been alone ever since. Fuck you and your fucking perfectly oblivious carnival life, Lochie. Just fuck you. I stood up and fell out of the truck bed straight into his arms. He stood me up against the side of the truck and got right down in my face.

I'm here, Bridget. I haven't left you. I've been nearby every time you leave your house. I wish I could have been man enough. It's exhausting. I've had help. I've had others watching you so that we can keep you safe. You haven't been alone. It wasn't enough though.

Who? Who helps you? Who would bother volunteering to keep track of the little fucking neighborhood nuisance who is of no use to anyone? Who wants to be a babysitter? Tell me their name so I can laugh in their face for the fool that they are.

Cole stepped out from the shadows of the building, hands in his pockets, hair still too long, face as familiar as ever. I hadn't seen him in a long time, not since I turned away from the boys after Lochlan humiliated me. I ran to Cole, throwing myself into his arms. He lifted me easily off the ground and spoke into my hair.

I do. I've been watching over you, Bridget. For a very long time now. Not to be a babysitter, though. You're not a little girl anymore.

The look in his eyes was the only thing I needed to see to know that I wouldn't be returning to the prom that night or bothering to continue to date lunkhead football players anymore. I just found the biggest knife to twist into Lochlan's back in the space of a heartbeat. I would seduce his best friend, and as a side bonus, the brother of the monster of my dreams.

I nodded to Cole, vindicated. I turned to Lochlan and smiled with drunken satisfaction.

What I didn't expect was that I would fall for Cole so hard. I didn't mean to. I only wanted to pay back Lochlan the worst way I knew how and the whole thing backfired and the joke was on me. I was pretty sure Lochlan was the only person I would ever love in my lifetime. It pisses me off that I was wrong.

He will tell you I'm not wrong.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Fifteen days ago.

(I am trying to make you see things but you refuse. How easily he moves from devil to angel, how quiet and loving and frightening the shift from captor to savior can be. How scared they would be on the day that balance tips and I fail to keep everything in mind.

I was taught from such a young age to keep things to myself and to keep my head down, my thoughts to myself and to always be ready to run. Be ready to pick up and go. Don't leave any traces that I was ever there, don't get comfortable and learn to find comfort where I can.
The rules and the lessons become a part of who I am and the brightly-lit, painfully sunny, noisy universe of the freak show was the perfect antidote for the oppressively dark, silent nights in which fear blew up, taking over everything.

There is only one safe place in the entire world for me.

It is the only place I can close my eyes, or dream or take a deep enough breath to keep on living and most of the time I am prevented from accessing it. Most of the time it is not available. Most of the time it is covered with paint, hidden by nostalgia or betrayal, obscured from the new half-light in which sound mixes with silence and the colors blend into a sepia sprawl.
Most of the time it is forbidden, and so I search on. While I search I write about things I need to think through and they are woefully out of order, sometimes out of date, and more importantly, mostly out of my mind.)

Caleb is pleased with himself. I stir my tea mindlessly, watching the raindrops race down the window. I hate this hotel, with its overly-kind staff and overly-fragrant jasmine butterfly tea. Everyone here treats Caleb as if he's some sort of celebrity just because he flashed his black card at them and they wouldn't know him from Adam. Money buys sycophancy from strangers and nothing more. When people are employed to see to your comfort it is easy to become jaded and ridiculous.

And I feel like a freak sitting here, I feel like I should jump up on the furniture and start demanding that this move faster or that we are given some sandwiches or profiteroles maybe because I'm starving and while we're at it, some tea that I can't taste the flowers in, because that's what I am used to but I am well-trained so I sit and count the drops instead.

Lochlan sits on the other side of me. He hasn't said a word, he hasn't touched his tea. He is staring at the floor. He doesn't have or want any money so no one pays attention to him. He doesn't care how people act when it comes to money. He knows he can get some by throwing his fire and for him that will always suffice. He would like answers instead. Those are worth more than cash.

The truth will set you free. The question is how much will it cost?

Caleb still knows what I'm thinking after all these years and instead of acknowledging my legendary self-control in this moment he congratulates himself on the ire Lochlan feels for the simple fact that he never wanted to be controlled by anyone and here Caleb is, still calling the shots after all this time.

The door opens and I look up. Another stranger stands there, this one with an envelope. He looks at Caleb and Caleb nods and then the envelope is presented to me. I stare at it. Is this where everything changes or is this where nothing changes once again? How do I trust him to tell the truth when my world has been nothing but lies since he walked into it?

I take the envelope finally, jamming it deep into the bottom of my handbag. I stand up and thank Caleb for the tea and I leave the conference room, walking unsteadily down the marble hallway. I know Lochlan is ten steps behind me, hands fighting with the tie I made him wear, pulling it off and jamming it into his pocket. He will have that look on his face, half incredulous and half concerned, out of his league but unwilling to play the games, outraged and quietly, madly curious too.

We made a deal in the car not to open the envelope until we are safely in the house, and we stick to it.

When we arrive at the house, Lochlan exits the car before Mike can come around and open the door for us and he holds the door for me, barking an order at Mike not to worry about it. He takes my hand and pulls me up the walkway, up the steps and into the house and we retreat to Lochlan's rooms. He locks doors as we run through them.

It's a moment of truth, if ever there was one and I don't know how to feel. I don't know how to act and suddenly I realize I don't know which way I want things to turn out.

I only know that someone is going to get hurt. I just don't know who.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Killing horizon.

Hanging from the stars
Living by default
Catch me like a dog
Slipping through your arms
I am searching by touch. Blackout blinds cover the windows. The music is too loud. Not uncomfortably so, just enough that I can't make out sound, I don't know where he is. He likes these sensory limitations, testing me to see if I can find him first with my mind or with my hands.

But he is impatient tonight*, not willing to wait. Not willing to settle or fight. Not now. Now he has seven hours of darkness left, unwilling to waste a minute. Precious seconds have already been spent in the time it took to change his mind and he takes my hands and pulls them up around his neck, pulling me against him, his arms sliding around me. It's so abrupt I cry out loud and he pulls one arm back and puts his hand over my mouth. I am bent backwards slightly now as his other hand slides up my back and into my hair. He forces my mouth against his. I can't breathe through the brutal kiss and so I wait, throwing myself into it. I will come back to life later, with the sunrise. What he wants is my response, and I will never ever disappoint him again.

The music changes and he drags his fingers gently down my face, dancing over my eyelashes, pulling my lower lip down, running his index finger across my tongue and chasing it with his lips. I have learned how to breathe through this shallowly and he smiles in the dark. I can't see him, I feel it.

He begins to walk, me pressed against him, until we reach the smooth wall. He presses me against it and then lets go. I know this part. I am going to kiss another favorite dress goodbye. He kisses my shoulder, hooks both fingers under the straps and pulls hard. The delicate satin rips easily and he takes up a handful of fabric and peels me out of it roughly. My eyes are adjusting to the wonder on his face, the barest glint from his eyes, flashing dark, teeth, skin, his white shirt reflecting my anticipation. I reach out with my fingers to unbutton his shirt but he takes my hands, forcing them up over my head and my feet leave the ground. Helpless. The point of no return.

The smile drops off his face again and he moves in against me. So strong. His determination slides over my features and I turn my face away from the burn of his beard. He mistakes my pain for acceptance and tightens his brace against the door. I force my legs together and he forces them apart. It's a game to him and I play it better than anyone.

And then he lets go.

This is the best part, perfectly timed and I grab for his shoulders while he wraps his arms around my legs and drives me against the wall until whatever breath I thought I gained back disappears forever. I bite my lip and taste blood. He kisses me, tasting the iron. It drives him into a frenzy. I squeeze my eyes closed. I'm not supposed to be here, I wasn't caught leaving and the penalty will be harsh but the music is so loud I can feel it in my bones and there's a thrill in the danger of knowing how close to death I am right now I don't think I could ever turn down the invitation if I wanted to. He's a drug and the high is too much for me to bear but I want it anyway. I want it so bad I begin to fight him for control but he locks me down. That's exactly what I was hoping for.

He slows to a grind and reaches out for the remote for the music and he turns it so loud I fear for my skull exploding from total overload now. His lips are against my eyes, his breath steaming up my brain, his fingers digging deep grooves into my skin, his onslaught endless, tireless and violent, on through the night, the dark horseman of my nightmares rides.

In the morning, I stand naked in front of the full-length mirror, inspecting for marks I will have to invent excuses for. There is a set of three deep scratches and a bruise shaped like his thumb on my left hip bone (that one is going to hurt when it is touched later) and my eyes don't look the same. The color is a little more faded, the dark circles underneath a little deeper, the deceit is a little richer and I still haven't managed to find a face that looks good in an innocent expression.

He appears behind me in my reflection, his chin coming down to rest on my head. He smiles and reaches around to smudge off the bruise and heal the scratches with his fingers. It fades and disappears. He puts his hands up over my eyes and kisses the back of my head hard, holding his lips against my hair for a long count, and when he releases me, dropping his hands and walking away toward the bathroom, I look at my eyes again and the color is restored, the rich bottle-green, with no dark circles. As a bonus the excuse of an early meeting is planted securely in my head to explain away my morning absence from home and the beginnings of the thought of the next meeting are beginning to seep into my brain from somewhere I can't access to shut it down.

Not that I would want to, he tells me to think. Only he hasn't said anything out loud. He doesn't need to, I guess that's one of the perks of being who he is.

(*The night in reference was fifteen years ago. Get a life. Now write about it. Harder than it looks, isn't it?)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The best-dressed Red Delicious.

Here. I made an apple cozy for Sam.

You know you want one but I am not taking orders, sorry. We both carry an apple or pear in case we get hungry and have remarked many times how bruised they get in the bottom of a backpack (him) or very large handbag (me, silly). I have fixed the problem at last.


I might make a few more for the others but they tend to bring their bruised and battered apples back to me at the end of the day. Fruit isn't high on the priority list of rock stars and artists, I guess.

(But I digress. I think you've heard enough domestic fuckery from me lately anyway. Look, things sometimes move really quickly around here. Too quickly and I never am able to keep up so I post total useless nonsense until I can get my brain wrapped around new thoughts securely enough to spit them out.)

The condo has sold and wouldn't you know it, Caleb is currently homeless. Karma. Or something. Poetic justice?

I offered to let him stay here. In the house. With...all of us. I threw it out there and Lochlan hollered at the top of his lungs for me to stop talking and take it back and he swore and he yelled and he acted really awful but he's still having a hard time adjusting to all of the changes.

(I've only told you about some of them, after all. Give me a little credit here. More to follow, eventually, as always.)

So either Caleb could hear Lochlan or perhaps he's just smarter than me (not a chance) so he politely declined and will spend the next two weeks at the Fairmont instead. His olive branches were burning when he offered them and Lochlan and I are still busy wiping soot off each others faces, tenderly, with a small white cloth folded many times and dampened with our spirits because we can deal with Caleb as Satan, but he is very hard to deal with as just Caleb. This new humility and complete transparency has been incredibly unsettling.

So I am hiding out in Sam's office most of the time lately. Helping him here and there but mostly just making clothes for his lunch.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


I was going to post something but the game is on and I really want to watch it instead. I miss going to the games since the boys aren't playing this year so TSN is the next best thing. As of this posting both the Rangers and Canucks are scoreless with two minutes left in the second period.

And tomorrow night the Jets take on my beloved Maple Leafs. You might not see me until spring.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Miracles and Mondays.

If ever there was such a walking disaster, always as close to tears as smiles, teetering along on her tiny shoes with her too-heavy handbag and threatening-to-smudge mascara, hair coming unpinned as it sees fit to escape, not paying attention while claiming to have everything covered, organized but unsure, it might be me.

I have a burn from touching the vent pipe on the stove while the oven hummed along at 700 degrees, cleaning itself. I have a blood blister on the other hand from forgetting to move my fingers when I fastened a latch yesterday afternoon and I'm surprised I still have any eyebrows after tonight's fiasco, which included opening the valve on the barbecue, turning on the burners, closing the lid and walking away only to take three steps and remember, so back I went, flipped open the lid and hit the ON button.

Oh, dear. With a whoosh of a fireball I had my comeuppance in flames.

Even more surprising?

That I'm not DEAD because I'm currently covered with paint thinner residue, from an earlier experiment today involving oil-based wood stain and a decided lack of a plan to clean up afterward, until I was up to my elbows in brown paint, forced to make an emergency trip to the hardware store, cash in hand, hands in gloves.

Because no one was home, and because clearly when left unsupervised I get into trouble.

On the other hand, dinner is delicious and the verandah is done. Both amazing. The boys were equally horrified and impressed. I am nothing if not completely remarkable.

And happy to be alive, in my normal shade of palest alabaster, and just barely singed and so very glad Monday is just about over.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Food for thought.

The differences are clear. Refined versus rustic. Surface versus undercurrent. In the east the fine white sand and red globes of dulse contrast brightly with the darker granular sand and dried brown eel grass in the west.

And the wind is the same spitfire of a gal who pulls my hair and laughs her pain into my ears.

The plan was simply to explore. Drive and drive and drive, checking in here and there to see something new. Have lunch somewhere completely different. Maybe get as far as Seaside, but Seaside turned out to be slightly further than I expected. So White Rock, then, and we'll leave our passports at home.

It didn't disappoint, though I'm still getting used to the darker sand and the fact that no one is ever swimming. Like, EVER. (Shh. Do I LOOK like I care that it's the middle of October? No, I do not.)

We explored. We took the whole day. The beaches were fascinating and unforgiving and full of glass. The children finally took an interest in the game of seeing who could collect more, giving special bonus points for the palest and darkest blues.

Lochlan found a fish and chips place right up our alley, if our alley were located in the past, in days we hardly speak of lest their ghosts come and drag us, screaming and laughing, back to a freak show of days gone by where he ate fire for cash and I hid from the authorities by day and walked a fine line by night to the sound of not a pin dropping, as everyone held their breath.

I watched his face light up and then darken, as if a shadow had passed across his features, clouds in front of the sun. He covered it with a well-timed subject change but as usual I can read him like a deck of cards. He taught me too well for my own good and we dropped the moment on the sidewalk as we strolled up the boardwalk. I didn't hear it break on the concrete but I'm sure that it did and the sound was masked by the endless wind.

And on the way home, Ben threatened a new date spot, because we didn't even know they had these in Canada. The kids weren't interested but the grownups lapsed into an excited sort of surprise reserved for incredibly good news or the perfect gift received.

Just what I need. Loud jangly colorful places full of tiny keyed-up children, something I'm not as patient for these days as my own children step into their preteen years where they can go to nicer restaurants and to 14A movies without stepping aside for a moment of hard thought beforehand. Hell, no, I won't go but Ben is hilarious like that. Every time we head out to choose a restaurant for a romantic date he'll say, Okay, baby girl: King, Queen, Clown or Bear? and every time I'll pretend to be outraged. I'm not spending a dinner date at a fast food joint, thank you very much.

Secretly, however, I would probably pick the bear. We haven't been to that place in a long time. I'd pick it over the mouse, that's for sure. Though I'd probably head back to White Rock, and find a little hole in the wall beside the beach, near Coney Island. Maybe at The Sandpiper or Charlie Don't Surf. Maybe Iguana's. I don't know. They all looked good.

I think that's the difference. I am the tourist, willing to try places without a three-decade knowledge that they serve day-old clams or jack up the prices to milk visitors and that the locals will always go somewhere else. I don't know any better and now that I've figured that out, I'm having a lot of fun.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Once again I'm keeping the lashes.

I have this magnificent urge to yell "I'm okay!" the way Henry does when we hear a huge crash or thud from wherever he is in the house and we go running.

I'm okay. My finger hurts like a sonofabitch right now. A few minutes ago I figured it would be a great idea to clean the burners and the lift-up part of the oven while the oven was doing a self-cleaning cycle. Why? Logic dictates that all the gunk around the burners and the underside of the burners would warm up and be easy to scrub off. I just didn't realize how hot the oven would actually get and now I'm pretty sure there's one place on my finger where you can see the bone now.

I'm good at casually gravely wounding myself. What can I say?

Oh, I know what I can say. Ben? Yes, take-out would be good tonight. Like you suggested earlier.

On the upside? The oven is so clean I can see my face in it. I'll probably burn my nose and eyelashes off but damn, I'm pretty! Pretty dumb, that is.

(In my next life, EQUIP ME WITH THE HEAVY GLOVES, YOU IDIOTS. Clearly I wasn't meant for this pedestrian sort of activity, or I would be good at it, no? Oh shush, you.)

(You realize you just read an entry about oven cleaning, right? Yes. Hopefully by tomorrow we will both have gotten lives.)


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Who needs corsetry anyway?

Kings are in the moral order what monsters are in the natural.
Henri Gregoire
Lochlan smiles when he learns of my issues with getting into that dress. To be brutally honest it's an incredibly unforgiving dress and while I'm not going to trump the boys in appetite anytime soon, I'm not starving myself so don't feel like you should take me to task for my previous post, okay? Like Lochlan did..

When's the last time you let me make you breakfast?


Can I do that this morning? You want to have something to eat with me?


I know what he's making. I sit at the island and sip my coffee and watch as he gets out all the ingredients and begins to cook. Welsh Rarebit. I ate it every day of my life when we were on the road. I think it's one of three recipes he knows how to make but the only absolutely foolproof one. He does it well.

This isn't helping my dress situation.

You have a hundred dresses.

That's just an exaggeration, Loch. Only a real princess would have a hundred dresses.

Right. Go count then, this will stay warm.

No way.

I'd wager cash there's a hundred there.

You can't fit them in that closet.

Bridget, that closet is the size of my bedroom.


Go count.




Eat your breakfast, princess. Then go find a different dress.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Princess cheesecake and french fries.

Right. I promised I wouldn't say much here about Daniel and Schuyler's wedding plans, even though I'm chomping at the bit to share details with you as they make choices and just..act so level-headed and responsible about reality versus Dream Wedding budgets. They are somewhere in the middle, everyone is chipping in different things to help out and I am...

I am...

I...DON'T FIT INTO MY DRESS FOR THE WEDDING. The one that fit two weeks ago.

The fuck.

For the next 2.5 weeks, I'll be on a diet of WD-40, lipgloss, apple seeds and rage. Just prod my joyless body with your foot as you pass me on the floor. I need to get back to my fighting weight.

For..uh...fighting, of course.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Might not be new, but it might not be old, either. Sometimes I write things down on paper and find them later, folded into tiny packets.

Been in that weird place for a while now.

That dizzy, sort of absent but totally present euphoric sleepy-sadness in which if someone were to ask me right now how I felt I would come to a violent halt in the center of the room, press one finger to my lips, pause for a very significant length of time, and then tell you, in a half-laugh, half-whisper,

I don't know.

Caleb put his gun up to my head today. He pressed the muzzle against my hair and twisted it around until it was sideways, and he pressed it hard into my skull while he gritted his teeth and talked very softly. When he squeezed the trigger my eyes had closed in self-defense. I will not watch myself die. There was no bullet. It wasn't loaded. Or maybe it was loaded and I dodged it. Not like that hasn't happened before.

I opened my eyes and his whole face had collapsed in an angry, helpless sort of anguish. I asked him how he felt and he spoke very clearly.

I don't know.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The rain is pouring down the glass and I'm standing there looking sideways, seeing if the caustics will play over his skin. It might not be dark enough or bright enough or causticky enough and he catches me staring and mistakes it for an intent to begin some epic, deep conversation beyond the usual gamut of weather/children/future/fight.

It's interesting how we've come full-circle isn't it?

But we haven't. We're on a track that extends straight into the horizon. On a runaway train. And there's a bridge but it's out so I'm sure we're headed to our abrupt demise.

Bridget. You watch too many movies.

It's a relevant comparison. Running from things. Punches first, explanations later. Doing jobs. Being too fast.

Who are you running from?

Ghosts. The past. You. I don't know.

Will that even change?


How can I make things different?

Bring them back.


I know. I know money can't do fuck all. I know that. I get it.

He didn't respond. He resumed his stare out into the rain.

It's going to rain all day, isn't it, Caleb?

Yeah, Bridget. I think it probably will.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The last and the curious.

We just watched Fast Five.

In my next life I'm going to drive a turbo-charged rice car and hang out with tattooed bad boys who flaunt the law and set up jobs for each oth-

Oh, wait a minute here.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Snapshots from a slightly crazy night.

My stomach hurts. I was sitting at the table in the restaurant tonight drinking gin and eating calamari, picking the legs off the tiny baby octopi and dipping them in tzatziki. I felt like a little ladylike barbarian. They were delicious. Now I'm afraid they're going to reanimate and crawl out of me while I sleep.


Ben wouldn't go for it. The field was dark, horses in the barn for the night but the fence remained electrified. I asked him if he wanted to sneak into the field with me and get naked. He pointed out that it was raining. I said I didn't care. He said it was dark. I didn't care. Bugs, Bridget. I didn't care, we can brush them off.

The signs that said TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT did it though.

Okay, let's go home then.


Sitting in a big comfy leather chair, my feet up on a matching ottoman, sipping flowery tea and listening to Ella Fitzgerald on the sound system. The clerk comes over and offers us pomegranate muffins. We decline politely. We ate the cake pops instead. Whoever invented something as sublime as eating cake on a stick while listening to jazz should be sainted.

Friday, 7 October 2011


I am wearing his tuxedo shirt and my high heels, holding the studs of the shirt up to my ears to see what I would look like with black earrings. He frowns and pulls my hand toward him, scooping them out of my grasp, returning them to the tiny tray on the bureau. I walk away toward the window, taking my champagne flute with me. It's still half full but the champagne, poured last night and well into this morning, has gone flat. I take a long sip, make a face and stare out over the strip. Daylight makes Las Vegas honest in a way I can't describe. It's so filthy, ugly and then at night it undergoes a metamorphosis into a sexy pornographic firework, drawing us in, keeping us rapt.

Maybe it's similar to me and then in the daylight I am revealed, honest in my translucent blue flesh, washed out ash-blonde hair, diluted bottle-green eyes and thoroughly corrupted mind. The black dress is harsh, the shoes unmanageable in their level of difficulty, I lost my stockings the night before. Or at least, I think I did. Vegas has a way of making the days all blend together in a haze and we've moved hotel rooms three times. One was to change to a comp after the hotel realized they had a High Roller on the grounds and then again when I made a remark about the paint color and he decided I was right and we needed something less...oppressive.

If I say it, it happens and so I watch my mouth. If I say I don't want it, it happens faster.

I don't dare tell him the view is terrible, then. I might be whisked back onto a plane and carted away to the Swiss Alps or Hawaii. This is far enough. Far enough for me to miss home and want to return but this is one of those trips arranged for my benefit, so that Caleb can swoop in and prove he has means or money or might, I'm never sure which.

I watch as a squad car slowly pulls in beside three women loitering in front of a lavish hotel. They exchange words, their body language reminding me that I am no better, the only difference being their conquests for cash are relative strangers and mine is a stranger relative.

I'm not required to walk the sin city stroll either. I was flown in on a private jet, and then deposited here by a private car. This is as close as I'll get to humanity save for those who serve us when Caleb makes a flick of his wrist or speaks a few low words into his phone. His phone is amazing. It folds into a tiny black brick with a pull-out antenna and it works absolutely everywhere. I asked if I could hold it but he said I didn't need it, and besides, he was expecting business calls. Then he told me not to worry, he wouldn't let business interfere with this trip, since this is for fun.

My eyebrows went up then and I asked if I could just call Bailey. He said no. Then he softened a little and said maybe we would call her later today, that it's still very early back home with the time difference, and maybe instead we should order some breakfast.

I turn and he slides his shirt off my shoulders, pulling it on, frowning at me.

You should get dressed.

Why bother? If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, what is it?

I don't appreciate the games, Bridget.

Then you should have brought someone older. I smile creepily at him and then stick out my tongue for good measure. The drinking age is twenty-one here, and I am all of eighteen now, too young for all of the lounges and clubs he was planning to take me to, forgetting that he doesn't run this show. The mafia runs this show and in passing someone told him he could definitely bring me to their club whenever he liked, but he would have to leave me there for a while.

It was at that point where I realized that I didn't like this one bit. I started asking for his phone or maybe any phone or hell, just give me back my passport and I can find my own way home and Caleb shook his head and said we would have our own private party at the hotel and he ordered too much champagne and stuffed mushrooms and foie gras and caviar and strawberries with cream and chocolate and raspberry glaze and they just bring the food and he doesn't even have to pay for it and how did he get so powerful that he can hold his own in a place like this at the age of twenty-seven and I think I might be sick again. I should be home, getting ready for prom.

By ten o'clock he was on the balcony looking at the lights, holding me up, wrapping me in his suit jacket, pulling my hair up out of the collar and smoothing it back, holding me in his arms in the cool night, telling me I didn't have to go back to his brother if I didn't want to and I drank until I couldn't hear him any more and then I woke up at ten in the morning when the strip went quiet at last and I don't know where my dress went or why my head doesn't hurt at all but I still can't seem to get a line out or a line in for that matter, though he seems to be making lines damn near everywhere. I see my reflection behind them, dusty and faded. I don't like these trips. I don't like that I can't remember what happens and I don't like that he brings everything he thinks I will need, including clothes in my size, but not my taste. His taste, shameless, depraved.

And all I can taste is sin.
There exist only three beings worthy of respect: the priest, the soldier, the poet. To know, to kill, to create.

~Charles Baudelaire

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Rubgy nation.

Every man should have a beard like Adam Kleeberger.

Doesn't he look like he wears a kilt and carries around a broadsword on his days off?

Why, yes. Yes, he does.

(I'm sure I will pay for this with every conversation of my afternoon beginning with "Hey Bridget, you know what every woman should have?" but that's okay. I hear enough of that anyway.)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I am the battle line.

Let the kick drum kick one time
Breathe out, let your mind unwind
Eyes on the ceiling, looking for the feeling
Wide open let your own light shine

Yeah, where the fight begins
Yeah, underneath the skin
Beneath these hopes and where we've been
Every fight comes from the fight within
I was busy. I was busy giving him a lap dance.

He reached up and pushed my bangs away from my eyes, tracing his fingers across my head, around to my back, down the faint line between my shoulder blades. I was pulled in for a kiss, somewhat reluctantly and then my stubborn streak was erased as he tried to melt me into his arms. I pushed him away again but his hands remained on my hips. A beat marked with the music by his thumbs as I reached down and lifted his shirt up. He took over, pulling it off and then grabbed both of my hips and pulled me down on the sheets. He hooked his thumbs under ribbons, pulling my clothing off. Such a rush, always such a rush.

Except for this time.

He stared down at me in the purple-yellow light of the waning sunset.

I asked what he was waiting for and he smiled, barely a hint of a raised corner of his mouth and I swore at him and laughed. My breathtaking insolence was rewarded with a kiss. He held himself up, both arms locked, keeping his weight off me while I writhed and squirmed away from him. I sat up and he threw me back down. I turned over and tried to crawl away but he pulled me back in, turning me over, crushing me down beneath him.

You're not going anywhere.

I have nowhere else to go.

Then give in, Bridget. Please.

I let him force my knees apart, more ribbons snapping along the way. Baby-pink satin shredded and dropped to the floor. I threaded my fingers through his long red curls and let go. I gave in to him. Just a little. Just enough.

The song is on a loop inside my brain.
Eyes open, open wide
I can feel it like the crack in my spine
I can feel like the back of my mind
I am the war inside

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

"I came into music because I wanted the bread." ~Mick Jagger.

A few weeks ago I tweeted (twittered? twatted?) a picture of a loaf of Jake's bread.

Ben said no way in hell could it be better than Ben's bread. Ben's bread is a Halifax staple. So much so that when my parents said they were coming out to spend Thanksgiving with us we asked if they could fill a suitcase with Ben's bread. That's how good it is, once you leave Nova Scotia you have dreams of spreading a thick layer of smooth peanut butter on this bread and eating it for a meal. Repeatedly. For the rest of your life.

I think Ben was having a my-dick-is-bigger competition with a ghost. Or I did, that is, until Lochlan came in and asked what we were talking about. Ben told him it was too bad he didn't have a bread named after him like all of Bridget's husbands do. And he started to laugh because it's such a comical subject. The whole thing was just dumb. What a dig. What an ass. But I didn't have to worry, Lochlan was a good sport and won the pissing contest by a landslide.

I do have a bread named after me, so it's all good, he said.

Ben finally stopped laughing. Oh yeah, brother? What's that?

Wonder bread.

I am still laughing. Under my breath, behind the door, but laughing nonetheless.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Under takers.

Hello, Poem.

He is behind me and I still jump out of my skin. I put it back on slowly so his eyes can linger on the scars. He reaches out and smooths my hair back from my ears, down the back of my neck. I had it cut. It stops at my shoulders now.

Hallo, Caleb.

He leans over me now, taking my words as affection, resting his chin on the top of my head. It hurts and I bounce upward once to make it known. Too hard. Don't actually put your weight behind it. He settles for poking his head in beside my face.

What are you doing?

Filling out the information forms for the school.

Don't they have this information already?

Yes, but since it's changing we need to update them.

I see. Maybe I can have a greater interest in this sort of thing now.

What sort of thing? Your child?

His hand came down on my wrist, squeezing it until we both heard a crack and I cried out. Then abruptly he let go. Funny how the unpredictable temper remains the sole common bond between Cole and Caleb. After me, of course.

Well, it isn't funny, actually. Let's call it interesting instead.


I pick my wrist up and rub it gingerly. Ben walks into the room and I drop my hands into my lap.


Benjamin. Caleb walks around and sits down in the chair opposite me. Bridget is showing me the school forms. I've never seen so many invasive questions.

They need to know custody arrangements and what's going on at home so they can work with the kids.

I meant the list of emergency contacts. There are ten listed, but space for only two.

Bridget's afraid she'll miss a call. Ben says it matter-of-factly.

I can' t hear the phone. I concur.

Maybe you should wear your hearing aids.

Maybe you should mind your own business. I covered my mouth. Pissing him off won't help matters.

Caleb smiled generously. Since Henry, and you, are my business I'll let that go.

Ben stopped walking and looked back at him.

I mean, I won't take it personally. Caleb corrects himself.

Ben frowns but keeps going. He will stop in the library and find something on his phone to make him look preoccupied, just to keep an ear out for me. See? It's already working. Caleb is forced to come to me now. No surprises, no privacy, no locked doors keeping the knights out and the evil in.

Do you have our budget for September?

No, sorry, I'll have it by the end of the week.

Maybe you can just take out whatever you need. I really don't need to sign off on it, do I?

You just finished saying you want a greater interest in what's happening.

I trust you.

That's not the point.


Oh, he's just going to lie down and take it, now. This is awesome.

Also, you're going to have to ignore Lochlan for a while, he is still warming up to this whole musical houses thing.

Caleb looked at the floor. Then the ceiling. Then out the window. I kept staring until his eyes met mine.

Do you really think this will work?

That depends.


Are you afraid of Lochlan?

He grinned and shook his head at the floor. Then he looked back at me defiantly. Not particularly.

Maybe you should be. I wasn't smiling when I said it.

There's only one thing I'm afraid of in this world, Bridget.

I waited, saying nothing. I expected him to answer his own question with Benjamin. I looked into his blue eyes. They had softened, filled with water, unabashedly, abruptly moved.

Your emotions. They are so strong. They bring...(he is fighting for control now and losing) They bring all of us to our knees, Bridget.

I nodded. I'm aware of what I can do. I'm not sure he is, not truly. Then don't make me regret this decision. You wanted to be on the inside, I'm giving you one chance to fix everything you broke. You better not let her down.

He looked up, dazed, still teary-eyed and clued in. He knew who I meant.

I won't. I promise. I'm not going to let her down again. It was a whisper. I'm still not sure I can believe him but I'm going to try.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Deireadh Fómhair

It's October today (above, in Gaelic, if you are so inclined.)

The first day, to be exact.

October conjures up thoughts of pumpkins, corduroy and woodsmoke, to me. Decadent coffees with caramel or spice and mulled wines. Pot roast and chicken stew. Baked apples and scarves. Walks through the neighborhood that is sprinkled with brightly colored leaves and children plotting their Halloween costumes in earnest.

The ocean is still warm but the sand turns cold, and the light changes radically. It's my favorite time of year on the beach, in sweaters and jeans with bare feet, the wind still braiding my hair, my eyes still scrunched up to see beyond the sun.