Saturday, 31 March 2012


(It's hard to believe we can have this kind of a strife in a world currently painted in the shades of grey and teal of deep water and the pale pinks of the cherry blossom trees. But things are going to be okay, thanks for asking. I just need to spin and ramble for a few. Ignore me, please.)
Come on, come on
Put your hands into the fire
My anchor appears to be six-foot-four with brown hair that's almost black and a history so austere he might have been in the witness protection program, at some point. The only baggage he brings to the table is an epic drive for sex and a gay little brother, who has been entirely absent and honeymooning for the past five months and if I daresay I'm happy for Daniel but I'm getting bored trying to drag PJ and Andrew shopping because they. hate. shopping.

Except for food, naturally.

And I'm not trying to digress. Hey, it's been another week of misery here while we fight through time and space looking for the upper hand only to find it means you reach the sun first and get burned beyond recognition, pushed against the surface until your screams are absorbed into the broiling plasma seven times over.

Because we have baggage. And for all the armchair and local psychiatrists pointing out that Ben is not different (because he did indeed provide swift rescue and there was no time in between and I barely waited three months and if I had any brains at all wouldn't I have not done that and I always answer something resembling Fuck off because I can't explain it) please step up now and kiss my little tiny ass.

He is not anyone else and something clicks here that makes me happy. He played his cards with great personal risk. So maybe you should admire him for his restraint with me. After all, he's the unpredictable one. A drinking problem and a temper and a life out of a suitcase brought him to me in ruins and now he is happy. Happier, anyway. By far.

He is my project boy and my savior rolled into one. He has let out so much line to watch me stray that I don't know how I find the way back but then I do: muscle memory, because the heart is a muscle and he is the way home.

But this isn't about Ben. Again, it's a digression.

You see, this house is our solar system and Lochlan is the sun. And everything revolves around him. He exudes heat and flame and serves as the anchor point around which the boys revolve. They are the planets. I am the dwarf planet, Pluto, running to catch up and keep up, catching a ride on Neptune, coasting through the milky way, slow to count orbits in terms of years because I keep falling off. I'm only eight. I can't keep up with them, they're all thirteen, fourteen or older. Come to think of it, I have no business being here at all, but here I am.

Saving them all.

Ben is Jupiter. Sometimes I can leapfrog over the other planets to spin in beside him and then I am dropped out once again. He can't help it, Jupiter is locked in place and too big to move quickly. Pluto has no business here. This is grownup space.

And the sun is so fickle, but without it we would die. The hierarchy in this house is such that we are bound to revolve around each other and the dynamics are such that sometimes we travel smoothly for ever and then there will be upheaval and change. And the boys are somewhat like me in that they will be easygoing and take so much and then suddenly the tipping points are everywhere and we are getting stabbed, arrows through the crust of my not-quite-a-planet-after-all, spinning me away on a different axis. Personalities are different and our situation is unique after all.

I don't know of any other commune that revolves around a singular female. I don't know of any other plural relationships that have a lifelong history behind them. And I don't know if we're doing it right, frankly. If you ask the experts they will wonder aloud why we haven't simply disintegrated years ago, ending in a brutal double-murder-suicide that would make a brief horrific read in the paper only to be followed by a scramble for the ticket to check the lottery numbers underneath.

What can I say? I suppose it works because it's not a gimmick or an experiment, it's our lives, and we take those very seriously.

Lochlan has made a couple of really good and terrible attempts to seek exclusivity and I hesitated to even confess that I heard him properly. Sometimes he relaxes enough to allow things to be as they are and sometimes he develops a sharp angle, gunning for his own leapfrog, all the way down the line of planets until he drops out of the system to where Pluto floats in the Kuiper belt just outside the range of normal consciousness.

He wanted me to come and live with him. Again. In an airstream by the sea. We would fish and busk and watch the stars and pick up from 1985, where we last left off (if you don't count those summers on the freakshow in my twenties but we're not going to go there tonight). This plan was further cemented this week as he revealed the remainder of the manifesto explaining why he is the way he is. If you knew him you would understand the reasoning he can dispense in his sleep. The stupid bulletproof prudence that has always left me with his hand on top of my head while I made such mad efforts to jump up and down and see the world. By Tuesday he was cocksure my misery was simply based on the fact that I would have to let Ben down. Boomerang, back to the show for the little freak planet and her tightrope, wound on a spool, too heavy to carry a planet on by far.

Instead my tears were for Lochlan's preemptive disappointment, and hell, even Caleb felt safe enough to return because perhaps nothing will change except that even more of my dreamlike, fantastical childhood can be explained in better detail now. Mostly to me, for I was the youngest and the things children remember are not always what transpires. Sometimes it is better than what we recall and sometimes it is worse.

Lochlan looked at me this morning and I grimaced and finally returned his gaze and he gave me a small tight smile, telling me See, peanut? I told you it would change nothing. Only his voice cracked on the you part and then he had to catch his breath and he tried to cover it with a cough but that didn't really work and I pretended I missed it anyway. I threw my arms around him and pressed my head underneath his chin, where you have been able to find me pretty much anytime since 1979, and I nodded because I didn't know what else to do.

Juggling is hard. Saving is too.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Five feet tall and freakishly intimidating, apparently.

My next tattoo will say something like Breaking hearts since 1979 or something fuckingly similar to that. I swear.
Close the door before it's late
We were born to love and hate
Turn it down for our own sake
We do no wrong
You fill your ears with every note
Direction seems the only hope
Its crowded, let's create now
We do no wrong

Common sense protects us
Everything affects us
To the outside light it's paradise
To the outside light it's paradise
In the dark there is no jury.

I put my arms up around his neck as he pulls me in close. Ben lifts me up for a kiss but it doesn't have an ending and I do not have purchase anymore. I slide back down and he laughs briefly but his eyes are serious. He lets go of me and pulls my shirt up instead. Over my head, my hair trailing out of it slowly until I have a pale halo of static spilling over my shoulders. I frown and he smiles again and goes to work on the button on my jeans. He reaches back up and shoves me down and pulls the jeans off my legs inside out, dropping everything on the floor. He follows by reaching over his head and grabbing his shirt between the shoulder blades, pulling it over his head in one motion. He's standing in the candlelight in just his jeans staring at me. I'm not even wearing the good lingerie today, instead stuck in what I threw on this morning so I could get to my day. Plain white underwear. No bra. He smiles. No giftwrap, just real, he says.

I laugh but it comes out tired and forced. Ben-

He leans down and puts his hand over my mouth and puts his own mouth against my ear. We're not going to talk. Not tonight. He pushes me down and hooks his fingers under the sides of my underwear and pulls them down. I stretch my neck to see out the window from here as he finishes taking everything off both of us and then there are no excuses anymore.

He pulls me up into his arms and I cry out. There is no tenderness either. I latch on to his neck and am rewarded with razor burn and teeth. I push at him and he says sorry breathlessly as he unlocks his mouth from my bottom lip. I can't breathe. He pauses in the dark and then lets go, dropping me onto my stomach on the duvet. He puts one hand on my hip and the other wraps into my hair, his forearm locked against the back of my head. I am helpless now and he is rewarded with total compliance, total silence. He's rewarded with whatever he wants and that is simple:


In the morning the sun comes up and blinds me, searing my closed eyelids as I remain in the dark a while longer feeling his hands slide all over, feeling muscle ache compete with muscle memory, lifting one shaking arm to run my fingers through his hair as he turns me back over finally, his brown eyes six inches from my green ones as I open them finally.

He smiles. Good? It's our thing. We do reviews.

Better than good. I grin and melt his face with my morning breath. I don't know where that came from, it's not like we slept at any time during the night.

I love your sweet little cries. He kisses me again. I wonder if he's going to take me for another round and I don't think I could take him when he stops abruptly and stares at me. This is a whole different look and I put my hands up to hold his face.


You're going to go to him, aren't you? Now that you understand what happened and why he was so frozen.

Ben, I-

Could I ask for just a yes or no? It's kind of killing me inside, Bridget, and I need to know. A man should be told when he's about to lose everything.

Tears sting my eyes suddenly at the thought of Ben equating me with everything and I shake my head. No. I'm not leaving you.

He bursts forth with a shaky sigh. Okay then.

You thought I would leave you?

Everyone thinks you're headed that way.

Since when do you care what everyone thinks?

Since robot boy unleashed his excuses.


Reasons, whatever. Since he played his trump card. What do I have to counter with?

You don't have to bring anything to the table. I'm not leaving you, Ben.

He looked into my eyes and I stared right back and he reached out and pulled me in close until there was no space in between. This is where I will remain. If you were the one person hoping differently then I'm sorry but I'm a chickenshit and I can't say it to your face.

Thursday, 29 March 2012


I could kneel against him, and take his face in my hands. His pale blue eyes were always washed out and tired, crinkled into a big smile for me, always for me, attention rapt as long as I needed him.

Don't, okay?

There's something not right about him. He's a robot. I mean, come on, princess, there's practical, there's efficient, indomitable, but he goes above and beyond. What is he doing?

Trying to take care of me, of everything.

He doesn't need to take care of you. Jacob's face is guarded now, defensive.

He still tries.

Why, Bridget? Just tell me why.

Maybe he's atoning for the past. I press my hands against his cheeks and he covers my hands with his and pulls them back down. He pulls me down into his arms. But he's not a robot. He's just...pragmatic. I didn't give him such an easy time when we were on the road.

But if he wasn't always that way then what changed?

Everything. My mood darkens. I don't want to talk about it.

I can't help you help him, if that's what you want to do, princess, if you don't tell me why he's this way.

I don't know why he acts the way he does. I think he's just still trying to provide stability and be my guardian even though I'm an adult now.

Not to him, you're not.

I know.

It irks the shit right out of me.

Jake, don't.

And you always cut the conversation off without telling me anything. I'm just supposed to accept that he's going to come into my house and lavish affection on my wife and it's not supposed to bother me because he's a robot in every other facet of his existence? Does that sound right to you?


Then I would venture a guess that you're remembering history as a child would and maybe there is more to it because adults always see things differently.

Maybe you're right. I don't know how else I can remember it.

That's just it, Bridge. You can't. And you don't have to keep secrets for him or for anyone else.

I'm going to go up and draw I think. I stand up and he wraps his arms around my legs and presses the side of his head against my belly. It gurgles. Always hungry.

Jacob laughs. How about we make some food instead? He is easy, jovial, but all through the construction of our midnight deli sandwiches he kept looking at me, waiting to give him all the answers that would help him to understand what makes Lochlan tick. And I was helpless in my ignorance. Had I said anything it would have been all wrong anyway.

I took a bite of the sandwich instead, and let a mouthful of food be what kept me from blowing everything wide open.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

And the edge of the world has forgot
Every second inside has been lost
For a moment a lesson was learned
When the eyes of the people were shut
The wind is freezing. When I take off my helmet it floods into my ears and eyes, cutting off all sound and making it hard to see. My eyes are already burning and red. My nose is running and red. My hair is uncombed, tangled, remnants of a ruined braid still evident and my legs shake like jello after what was a marathon ride on the Sunbeam, borrowed from New-Jake who took one look at me and ran after Lochlan asking him if it was such a good idea and maybe I should stay in but Lochlan shot him one of those looks and he fell silent.

It was sort of the theme of the day, for I haven't said more than a few words in days, mostly content to speak to the children and otherwise punish everyone else in sight.

I've been coughing. I haven't slept. Lochlan put his hand up to my face and he said things that made me want to cry that much harder for their tenderness. He said things that were encouraging and he said things would be different and I believe him because we're at the bottom again. There's nowhere to go but up. Onward and upward, as Jake would say, only Jake saw Lochlan as a threat and he saw things I didn't want to acknowledge and everything sometimes makes so much sense it makes you miss the fugue in which you were content to admit you didn't know what was going on at all, because it's so much easier to live without confirmation, without proof.

Caleb saw me coming a mile away and booked a flight out. Needed a break. He was just about to head home and he got a heads up from someone and never came back. I had an email from him late last night. He was going to visit some colleagues who have a place in CA that he can use. Might be back next week or the week after. Good time now that the March break travel has lightened up considerably and he was free to go. Nothing else.

He's running from me because he knows how angry I am. And he knows damn well I can wait him out. He has to come back sometime, sometime being within the range of his legal obligations to Henry, spelled out clearly in our custody arrangements.

It's just a matter of time.

And I can wait him out. I have a lot of things to think about in the meantime. A lot of things that keep me up at night now. Things I'm not going to itemize today, since every time I stop and start to think about things my eyes fill up and I drown.

Monday, 26 March 2012

What happens when you underestimate a pyrokinetic? This.

You can find it anywhere under the sun
You can find it in your heart if you look hard
You can know your way around and be lonely
You can tear us all apart and be on your way
You can tear us all apart
Be on your way

The air begins to feel a little colder
The air begins to show a little time
The air begins to know what you are thinking
The air can see the trouble in your eyes
So tell nobody you're on your own
And find somebody to take you home
To take you home
I hear the side door open. Three little beeps give him away. Footsteps echo down the hall, up the steps and into the kitchen.

He has his coffee cup and is covered with the light rain that is falling outside. Back to routine today, including the usual weather. Lochlan stands up from the table and greets Caleb with a nod. I am determined to ignore both of them. I finally found a way to spin the past that makes sense to my heart but I don't like it one bit. Only Lochlan gets a pass, as usual, as I tried to tell you about something nice he did for me without it being just a consequence of his already-planned behavior. Remember, he is logical to a fault. If there is no reason to do something, it isn't done. If it doesn't make sense, it's removed. If it can't be explained it won't exist.

Caleb nods in return. I look up in time to see that movement but he is staring at me. Target acquired. He passes around the island to where I sit and stands beside me. I hold his gaze.

How close are you going to get, Bridget?

To...what? The cliff? I give him the most innocent face of all and I watch his features quarrel with his brain. His mind is angry. His heart is open. It's when his heart closes that you have to watch out. See, in the thirty-two years they have been falling in love with me I have been learning everything about them, too. I can sort them by mannerisms and choice of words. Had his movements been any slower coming up those stairs, I would have run.

It's not the time to coy. I need to know if you plan to make things difficult in our custody arrangement.

What are you talking about?

He looks down as if he is exasperated in trying to reason with a small child.


She's not going to do that. Henry needs his father. Bridget is aware of that. Lochlan speaks from across the room without looking up. He has returned to his chair, he is painting on his tablet. I nod, obediently. Caleb looks more pained at the fact that I am Lochlan's puppet than he did when he thought I might rat him out.

He turns and walks back out, back down the steps, door opens, door closes and there is total silence in the house again.

Why don't you let me fuck with his head, Locket? It's the only entertainment I have today.

Because it could have easily been me in his position.

But it's not.

Close enough. Shitty post, by the way. You have a gift for making me out to be the biggest asshole that ever lived.

You don't care what people feel about you.

What about how it makes me feel?

You were there. None of it should come as a surprise.

Remembering things hurts. You know that? You're not the only one who finds nostalgia agonizing. You have no idea how hard it was to let you go so that he would leave you alone.

And with that he opened a door in the floor and I fell through it.

You what?

Fucking Christ. Nevermind.

What did you do, Lochlan?

You were already in the middle of it or I would never have believed the things he was capable of.

I thought it was us against him. That we fooled him. Instead you were fooling me?

I was protecting you.

At what cost?

As it turns out, it cost me everything.

He threatened you to keep us apart. What in the fuck-

No, he threatened YOU, Bridget. Only he demonstrated the damage he could do up front and if you think I was going to risk you after that because I thought he might be bluffing then you don't know me as well you think you do.

I don't think I know you at all. Why didn't you tell me?

You wouldn't have left me if I had.

I didn't leave you.

Right. Exactly. The only way to keep you safe was to push you away and then make a game of it, that we were only pretending to be apart so we could stick together and ruin him. I just didn't tell you everything. I'm sorry.


I'm sorry. But it changes nothing. (Logical to a fault. This never ends.)

Oh my fuck. It changes everything, don't you see that? And what changed now?

What do you mean?

You're back. You're here. But I'm still alive. He didn't hurt me. Well, much.

He can't now. You're all grown up. You're the mother of his child. Besides, the damage is done. He kept us apart to the point where you blame us equally for everything and moved on. You did exactly what you were supposed to do in life. Maybe we are both proud of you after all. We ruined each other but you're okay. That's the most important thing.


You have a life, you're in love. You survived us. All of us.

You really believed that he would hurt me so you agreed to leave? You trusted him to leave me alone when you weren't there?

No, Bridget, he SHOWED Me that he could hurt you. I didn't have a choice.

I blamed you. I went to him.

I know. This kills me. Everything went wrong, Bridget. All of it.

Get out. I need to think.

Bridget, I-


PJ picked that moment to walk into the kitchen. What's going on?

Lochlan looked at him, then at me and stormed out. I turned to PJ in tears. You know the part in the movie where the one doing the double-crossing gets double-crossed? This is that part.

This isn't a movie, Bridget.

It sure feels like it.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Back fire.

His eyes were bright. I told you, it's a surprise.

Is it safe?

I am suspicious these days and that makes Lochlan sad. Instead of spending our days working for extra money to get through the lean times between towns toward the beginning of autumn, we are preparing to go home at the end of this run. Usually we would stay on for another few weeks, almost right up until school but things have changed. I tremble in my sleep. I have black circles under my eyes. I am afraid when he leaves the camper and I hold my breath until he comes back. He has shifted all of his energy into keeping me distracted.

You're going to love it. That's all I want to tell you so that I don't ruin this.

He turns into the field abruptly. We are on an unmarked dirt road off the highway, rutted and pocked with holes. We bump along forever, jarring our teeth against our skulls, rocking deliriously as the truck shifts and heaves over the bumps, falling into the dips and highlighting a total lack of remaining suspension.

Finally he says There! He leans over and presses his head against mine and points his finger out in front so that I can follow it.

There is an upright piano in the center of a field of lavender.

I gasp. My first thought is he engineered this, only Lochlan doesn't have a piano and he hasn't left me alone for weeks now and this has clearly been here for a while. He lies anyway. I didn't do this, Bridge. I heard about it on the line.

He keeps driving until we are closer and then he turns the truck off and I am out the door, running straight through the tall flowers until I reach out and put my hands on the top.

It's real.

I bring my hands up to my face and then drop them to run my fingers across the weathered cover. I don't dare open it. Maybe it's empty. Who leaves a piano in a field? It's from the forties, says the faded remnant of the maker's dated signature.

Play for me.

He opens the cover to reveal yellowed, cracked keys. They are ruined but intact. I reach out and press middle C. Clear as a bell. Someone has tuned this. This is no accident. I smile breathlessly, ducking under to see if there are pedals. Yes. He tests other keys and laughs. This is amazing, isn't it?

Look at this. Can you imagine playing outdoors, Locket?

No. I can't. You should show me.

He smiles and winks. He totally engineered this. I'm sure he thinks I am dying. I've said twelve words in three weeks, up until now. I don't eat. I'm becoming a ghost. His insistence that the show go on (someday he will run the show, I'm sure) rings of comfort in times of great difficulty. (Through them, you will be entertained, Bridget and that will help you forget.)

But it didn't help, it just kills more time. That's why we're leaving early this year, with a promise to be back next summer. Hopefully by then I will understand what has happened because as it stands now, I don't. I only know that I became collateral damage in a war between Lochlan and Caleb. Everything will be different now. Everything is different now.

Dutifully I play the beginning of Fur Elise and a smile lights up his face.

Keep going! I wish I brought a camera.

I shift gears and give him a little of Heart and Soul and he grins and slides me down the bench, pushing in next to me. We used to play that song on the piano at my house once I taught him how. I play bits and pieces of a few more songs. I feel happy suddenly.

I like this, Bridget. It sounds so poignant.

What does that mean?

Touching. Special. Intense. Like you.

I shake my head.

Yes, you. Keep playing. We have to be back at four.

You go. I'll be staying here.

I can't do that, Bridget. Oh, here we go.

You don't get to decide. I hold my tiny patch of dusty, sun-baked ground.

Yes, I do.

You don't own me. I'm staying.

He looks up to check the time, using the sun. I'm a little bit sure he isn't human, he's good at too many things and even completely sure of his doubt, if you can believe it. He squints through his curls and then looks back at me. He does own me. He has the temporary paperwork to prove it but he doesn't say that. Instead he scolds me gently. Half-father, half-lover, it's no wonder we were doomed to fail.

We're leaving in fifteen minutes. Play until then and we'll come back tomorrow.

I sit and stare at him. We won't be back. Tomorrow has no free time scheduled. His touching plan has backfired and now he's taking this small bit of happiness away the moment I get my hands on it.

Did you do this just to hurt me then?

Jesus, Bridget, no. I did it to make you happy. To give you a little break.

But we have to leave and I'm not ready!

How long did you want to stay then?

I don't know.

You don't want to go back at all, do you?


If we leave the show you go home, peanut. I won't be there when you have nightmares.

I burst into tears. I am twelve years old, I don't know why I have to make these decisions. I don't want to be at the show anymore but I want to stay with Lochlan. You are my home. Maybe we can figure something out. Maybe we can just run away and find a place to live.

And do what to make ends meet?

Hustle, Locket.

He laughs and it breaks the tension. I am encouraged.

We could do it, Lochlan. We'd probably be okay.

He shakes his head. We wouldn't be okay. But do you see? He walks away and comes back, kissing me hard on the cheek. This is why I love you, Bridget. Your dreams. You live inside a perfect world you created in your head. Your dreams are real.

I shiver when he turns around. Gosh, I hope they aren't. Every dream sees the big bad wolf coming for me. Lochlan steps in front of me and is eaten first. When Caleb takes off the wolf's head and licks his lips I start screaming and wake myself up. When my eyes open again Lochlan has set the piano on fire with his mind and is walking away. I run after him yelling his name above the roar of the flames and he stops and waits for me. He keeps saying he's sorry but I don't know what for.

Friday, 23 March 2012


I have been sitting on the floor, my back resting against the side of the bed. He sleeps easily, tangled in sheets and contentment. I sip red wine from a big goblet and eat Cracker Jacks out of the box. Once, a thousand years ago when I was eight I told Caleb I wanted to find a compass at the bottom of a box. He still buys boxes of Jacks for me to keep the hope alive, and still I have that hope that when I find that stupid compass I will know the way home.

I grow tired of the candy and shake the remainder of the contents out on the floor. At the bottom is a paper pouch. I open it and find a sticker of an Irish flag. I peel it off and stick it on my forehead.

Diabhal, I say under my breath.

His sleepy, gentle hand traces my hair.

Neamhchiontach, he whispers back.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The broken tellurion.

And I will be good at making bad
And I'll light the way for the fucking mad
I will defeat what I'm heading for
And I will be here for evermore
I close my eyes. So hard to stay awake this afternoon.

Then what happened?

He taught himself to eat fire.


He wasn't scary enough.

Caleb stifles a laugh. No, the other part.

If you were going to breathe fire he would consume it, just to show that he could overcome you. Or overpower you. I forget which.

And then what happened?

I tried to balance all of you at once on my tightrope.

The low one with the blindfold while he threw the flaming hoops up and you'd jump through them?


Were you scared?

No. If you trust the person responsible for your safety, then there is no fear. Besides, it's nothing compared to the highwire.

But you are afraid of me, Bridget.

Do the math, please.

Why don't you trust me?

You've used everyone you've ever met, yourself included. Self-sabotage is such an amazing redemption, I couldn't find any more suitable penance for you if I tried.

He puts his head down against my shoulder and pushes against it.

I don't think I ended up too bad off.

Is that proper grammar?

I have no idea, I'm a lawyer, not a writer.

He laughs and drinks Dom straight from the bottle. We have been in bed for two days, celebrating his call to the bar. Well, that and he loaned Cole a whole bunch of money and Caleb decided the interest was due up front. The interest being in me.

Am I a capital gain or a dividend, then?

What are you talking about? He laughs and takes another drink. I daresay he isn't really paying attention to the words anymore, whether they are used correctly in a sentence or not.

I have given up keeping everyone straight at this point. I am in my mid-twenties and they all think they're so smart, double-crossing one another. Lochlan has spent the better part of a decade telling people I am too much work and therefore he was finished forever ago, only he never actually went away. I pilfer time with him from Cole as a respite for the time I am forced to spend with Caleb.

Only I have come to a place where I only act like I hate what Cole does because it is my absolution too.

I get up and go outside and curl up in the lounge chair on the balcony. It's thirty degrees in the sun. Beautiful. Caleb follows me out and readjusts the umbrella so that I am in full shade. I frown and he just says you burn.

I do. I burn. I burn for everything.

The heat and the exhaustion and the champagne put me to sleep in seconds and I pull the sheet up around my shoulders and let it happen.

When I wake up it is late afternoon, twenty years later and the sunny day has turned overcast. I frown at the sky while my stomach growls. My mouth tastes like cotton batting and my head hurts so I go inside to get an aspirin and some juice. When I step inside I hear him on the phone.
He sounds frustrated. He's talking in his Secrets voice. Quietly. Adamantly.

I go away for a few years and I've been fighting my way back in ever since. He does the same thing but then picks up right where he left off without acknowledgement of the absence on her part. He conducts his life expecting her to just be there for him and she IS. He doesn't notice husbands or time, for that matter. Every time there is great difficulty he vanishes, deals with it and then he comes back strong, ready to take over again. I think it's that distance that keeps him grounded so he can help her cope after the fact but she blames him for abandonment and that's what keeps her doubting him, to my credit. But they are one soul divided down the middle. That I know for certain.

The devil is counting his roster. We have denied him whole numbers. Part of me smiles at the description. One soul. Two bodies. Part of me cries because he is still obsessed with both of us, moreso than I hoped. How many casualties will there be from those who try to break this bond? The more success that is gained, the higher the price that is paid. They have learned nothing from Cole or from Jacob. After all.

Who is the devil now? I'll give you a hint. She's standing wrapped in a sheet, listening at the door and she looks as if she couldn't harm a fly. Caleb walks out of the room abruptly, tucking his phone into his shirt pocket. He is dressed. He is leaving. He turns and smiles at me (a lie) and kisses my cheek gently.

An investment, Bridget. That's what you are.

And he walks out the door.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Smoking is only cool if you do it ironically.

This is what Duncan says when I come out with a lemonade for him. The temperature cracked a balmy eight degrees today, we are celebrating. He holds up his cigarette in offering to me and I shake my head.

Are you a hipster now, Duncan?

Possibly. Though you make me seem more like Hunter S. Thompson when you write about me.

Oh holy shit, you're a blog reader. It's even worse than I suspected.

Ben walks out onto the steps. What's worse? That Dunk's a hipster now?

No, a blog-reader. Ben, get the children. I think we can escape in the night. Leave everything behind. blog readers take children?

I don't know but it's creepy.

Yay. Duncan becomes the creepy one for once. Ben jumps into the air and claps his hands, his voice a frighteningly funny falsetto.

At least I don't eat my wife's makeup all fucking day long, Frankie. Duncan lands a punch against Ben's arm as he comes down to the patio. Ben picks up Duncan's lemonade and drinks it all. He gets down with his hands on Duncan's shoulders and says, That's not all I eat, baby and runs his hands through Duncan's hair.

Duncan swats him away as I shake with laughter. I'm trying not to egg them on.

Seriously. What's wrong with hipsters now, Bridget?

Their pants. They look like they hurt. So tight. On dudes, no less.

You're just jealous because they don't make skinny jeans small enough for you, babe.

She'd never be in them for long anyway, Ben says and puts the glass upside down on Duncan's head and licks the side of his face. Duncan swats it off and asks Ben if he's ever serious. Like, ever.

Not anymore, I keep my emotions underground, man. Ben says it somberly and I can't hold my giggles in any longer. I crack up laughing out loud. It feels good.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Elusive character(istics).

The coughing started almost immediately, uncontrollably. I covered my mouth with both hands. Lochlan put his hand on my back and waited patiently. Then he handed me his bottle of pop and told me to drink it. I drank some and started coughing again. He thumped my back twice, gently and then rubbed it hard. I twisted away from him.

So the second I look away you decide to try cigarettes for the first time?

No, I was...choking. Ate a peanut. I look down. Such a bad liar.

My hair is burning. It gives me away. He uses his hands to put it out. It smokes. Just the one lock that was still sitting in the ashtray that I dropped the cigarette on when I began to cough.

Nice, Bridget. Light yourself on fire trying to sneak a drag. I love the smell of burning hair. He makes a funny face at me. His features are goofy, elastic.

Sorry. (Said between fits of coughing and laughing)

Nine is too young to smoke, okay?

When did you start?

This year. He laughs. But I only have one a week. Sometimes. He leans back and hooks his hands into his pockets, assuming a casual stance. He instantly becomes the coolest teenager I know. He was anyway. I cough again.

Drink some more and don't ever do that again. I will show you how to do it right in five years.

Five years?

Yes. When you're as old as I am now. Fifteen.


The day I turned fifteen, I walked to Lochlan's. I had stolen a cigarette from Cole's pack the night before and hidden it in the case with my sunglasses. I knocked on the door and Lochlan opened it and said Happy Birthday, peanut! He reached out and pulled me into his arms. He remains by far the most affectionate of all the boys even though we've been broken up for almost a year and I go out with Cole now. But Cole is too busy being insane. Lochlan grounds me. He always has time for me even though if you ask him he will point out all of my flaws and no one can argue with that. It doesn't bother me much since I know he's lying. It will bother me in a few years but not right now. Little has changed for us, honestly.

He kisses my forehead hard and tells me he just woke up.

Perfect timing. I want to learn to smoke, Locket. I pull out the case and hold up the cigarette.

What? No, Bridget.

You promised. I drop between us like a divide. It rests up against the other promises that will take the rest of our lives to play out.

I did, didn't I? But you've been smoking here and there, what am I supposed to teach you exactly?

How to like it.

If you don't like it don't do it.

But I want to look cool!

You do. He stands there and smiles and breaks my cigarette in two. I frown at his expression. I don't understand what they see. Maybe it's the vantage point. I stopped growing at twelve and can't see the world from up where they can. Lochlan kept growing and is way taller now at eighteen. The view up there must be better somehow.


He is standing outside on the patio, one hand jammed into his pocket for warmth, shoulders hunched, shivering slightly. It hasn't been a warm March here. He takes a drag as I hand him his coffee and says thanks.

How is quitting going?

He holds it out, offering me a drag. I decline. Cigarettes give me massive headaches. That and I am no longer determined to look cool. I don't think I ever managed it a day in my life so I'll settle for just looking unusual and hopefully still pretty.

As well as ever. One a week or so. He frowns comically which makes me laugh out loud. He is forty-six and a half. He will never change.

Still want to learn to look cool? He asks as he exhales away from me, out the side of his smile.

Yes! Maybe I do still want to learn to pull it off after all.

Okay stand there...relax your shoulders, Bridget. Geez, you stand so tightly. Don't ever try and juggle.

I loosen up and wait.

Now smile...

I smile and wait some more.

There you go. You got it. He winks at me, puts out his cigarette and turns to go inside. I watch him until he disappears and then I see this girl standing in the reflection of the glass doors. She does look cool. Must be the smiling. I hardly ever do it, unless ordered to, or tricked.

Monday, 19 March 2012


I am facing the open ocean. The plan was simple but I didn't know it yet. Conquering my fear of swimming in the deep, where the water holds mysteries in the most amazing shade of dark, sparkling teal. Out where the dolphins play and where the shipwrecks begin. We would never come close to the edge of the continental shelf below but that did not stop my sixteen-year-old imagination from conjuring up a leviathan of epic proportions coming up from the depths to swallow me whole.

The water numbs my thighs and licks at my hair. The wind is fierce today. Whitecaps. An undertow which twice already forced me to pinwheel my arms and grab for Lochlan, standing just to my left. It's an unconscious, habitual action not lost on Cole, who stands to my right. They don't have any problem holding ground as the waves pull back from the shore.

I am tempted to pack it in. The water is freezing and black. The wind is too strong. My bathing suit is too spare. I am old enough to push every boundary that I can these days with my wardrobe choices. String bikinis are my usual attire. I have three. White, baby blue and green. I wear nothing else, unless we are in town and then the green hoodie and cut off shorts will make an appearance over them. I might wear shoes if I absolutely must. My hair is down to my thighs now, habitually twisted into a low bun because I have decided it makes me look older than the braids ever did. I am probably wrong.

On three? Cole shouts across the breeze and I nod and dive in before he begins to count. After a moment I feel his hand on my ankle briefly as he follows me. I swim underneath the surface until my lungs crush in. Then I surface, gasping. His head pops up almost at the same time. He looks proud of me. You're doing great, doll. Come on! He flips back under the water and I follow above. I am not looking down, I have decided I will swim until I hit Ireland. At least I think I will. I see Lochlan swimming fifteen feet away, his easy crawl making me jealous suddenly.

Thirty feet from shore and he is closer but still ahead of us. Ten feet ahead and to the left. He has dropped his pace to stay nearby. He knows I am dumb enough to accept Cole's challenges whether I can manage them or not. He knows that Cole is a more renegade version of Caleb. We're a recipe for disaster but we've been together every day for a year now and so far so good.

Cole swims beside me. Breaststroke. He begins to tell me that huge fish are circling below us in the abyss. He thinks it's hilarious. Fear weighs my limbs down and I begin to swim in dog-paddle fashion, like I did when I was little and the boys told me if I wanted to swim out to the raft at the lake I would have to do it myself but then I would freak out once the water was fifteen feet deep and Lochlan would come back and pull my arms around his neck and bring me the rest of the way. There is no helping hand at fifteen. I'm not a baby anymore but the way I'm swimming and panicking is beginning to use up all of my energy and I falter and stop, treading water.

I look down and the large rocks below us are monsters, ascending from trenches below and I freak. Cole's face goes from jubilant to regretful just as Lochlan's hand closes around my arm. He pulls my arms around his neck, swearing at Cole and turns back to shore. I bend my elbows until I am pressed against his back. I feel his muscles repeating as he swims quickly back to shore and once we touch bottom he paces through the water and punches Cole. Cole goes down and then recovers and shoves Lochlan right back. They are evenly matched in size.

Jesus, Loch. She wasn't in any danger.

Panicked people drown.

How could she drown when we're both right there? He is incredulous and maybe Lochlan jumped the gun. My loyalties waver. Flitter flutter. I don't say anything. I stand there shivering in my green bikini and wrap my arms around myself. I'm staring at both of them. Back and forth.

Did you feel afraid, Bridget?


Then you're LIVING! Cole shouts the word. He is proud that he scared me. I nod obediently but I don't know what he means and I'm anxious to prove loyalty. Lochlan gives us the worst look and storms the rest of the way back to the beach. He doesn't wait for us, he just picks his belongings up as he passes the blanket and goes straight to his truck, peeling out into traffic without looking back. Cole laughs and then turns serious.

I keep thinking at some point he's going to stop thinking he owns you but it doesn't seem to be happening.

I dismiss his words, since Lochlan dropped me into Cole's life and let go anyway. It was a fluke that he brought me back to shore. If he hadn't been there, Cole would have. I am angry suddenly, defensive. He's fine. Maybe he had a bad day, okay?

It's ten in the morning.

Bad night then.

He stares at me. Or rather, through me and I look out to sea. It's freezing. Let's go in. I turn and leave him there and wade in laborious strides through the shallow breaking waves until I can wrap my towel around myself. The sun has disappeared behind the clouds and the beach is sombre and empty. I wait by our belongings as he takes his time coming in. When he reaches me he has already made up his mind.

I guess next time we just won't invite him. He can't save you if he isn't here, right, dollface?

Three years ago Caleb said the same thing. I'm in over my head.

I'll never go out into the deep water again.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Harm less. Worth less.

When I make it across the drive Satan is awake. Dressed, possibly from yesterday, since he remains in his bespoke pinstripe shirt with the french cuffs and his braces after more endless meetings kept him mired downtown, far away from me. I saw the car pull in. I was not waiting but I was not sleeping either.

He does not smile. There will be no lies today.

He strings his words out slowly. His voice is shaking, the trembling matches mine. Only his is rage and mine is fear.

You never loved my brother.

You're wrong.

You engineered your false distance from each other in order to screw me over and everyone since. Cole, Jake. BEN.

On this point I remain perfectly silent but I shake my head when he gets to the second and third names. He stares at me. I stare at him.

You do realize none of the blame falls on you. You can't make life decisions at such a young age.

You can't make them at twenty either.

What is the threshold of adulthood then, Bridget?

Salary. Independence.

Oh and the fucking carnival doesn't count?

No. It's a hiding place in a life game of hide and seek.

Yes it is, isn't it? And it's a place where you lose your innocence.

You should know.

I took advantage to prove a point. He can't take care of you.

You're a predator. He was doing just fine.

And then look at the convoluted mess ever since, Bridget. Is that my fault? I walked away. I protected my interests from him and clearly he has done the same and hung you out to dry over and over again. A few attempts at adolescent sabotage on both ends and three decades later we're still having a pissing contest over an insolent, ordinary little girl who isn't worth this much effort, frankly. There are women out there who know how to behave to get ahead, who have a little sophistication and style and aren't any trouble at all. Instead I have wasted my life on you and you are nothing.

I go to my knees because his words are correct and it has been a waste and there's nothing here that I have to give anyone. Never was.

Lochlan's voice cleaves the tension in two and both halves slide down to the floor and dissolve. I go clawing through my memories until I find the sunny road and I go running down the middle at full speed, flying on the wind in my cowboy boots and ragged sundress, straight to Lochlan, who is leaning up against his motorcycle, holding a bag with our lunch. He reaches down with one arm and grabs me up.

Not many men get a welcome like that when they leave for an hour to go into town.

I laugh when he describes himself as a man. He is still a boy in my eyes. He kisses my bangs and tells me he will cut them later tonight so that I can see and I scrape them back and smile purposefully. He tells me that has ceased to be effective and he laughs and tells me to run ahead back to the camper to sweep the clock parts off the table so we can eat. He is making me an orrery. I am so excited I could burst. But I am hungry first.

Can't we go to the picnic tables by the lighthouse? I give him my worried face. Only few hours off from the show so we need as much beach as possible.

Okay, peanut. Just let me stop and wash my hands.

I reward him with a hungry grin and take the bag. If I am fast enough there will be a table left. We no longer sit on the same side, he is big enough that it tilts the whole bench and we wind up bumped to the ground. I take my seat across from him and am startled when I begin to fall anyway. He has let go. I stare up at Caleb from the floor and I do what any little girl does when wronged. I ball up my fists and screw my eyes shut and I scream TAKE THAT BACK! at the top of my lungs.

I wake up in tears to the sound of his laughter. I am safe in my bed, with fitful dozing playing out on the left, and light almost-wakefulness to the right. I sit up, startled, and wipe my eyes. One hand from the left goes around my head and one arm from the right goes around my shoulders, extended to protect me but all I can do is wonder if Caleb is right.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Miss a turn.

He's teaching me words, today.
desideratum - something desired as a necessity; "the desiderata for a vacation are time and money".- anything indispensable; "food and shelter are necessities of life"; "the essentials of the good life"; "allow farmers to buy their requirements under favorable conditions"; "a place where the requisites of water fuel and fodder can be obtained"
I have one, he wrote. A desideratum. To see you. To speak with you. Today, please.

That was all it said. Nothing else. An email, unsigned and sent at five in the morning, three or so hours after he returned to the compound, his car purring quietly into place beside mine near the house. I knew when he came home because I have not slept. Much anyway.

I need to see him too. If we're going to continue on our path of dismantling history one memory of mine at a time then we should be reading from the same page.

Wish me luck.

Friday, 16 March 2012

On not playing fairly.

He wrapped his arms around my head and kissed my lips goodnight. No words. Just locked together in the dark, flush and exhausted.

I fell asleep so easily. It was unreal. Dreams are getting better, nightmares less frequent. Waking up sporadically if at all. He is there each time, he hasn't moved.

Thirty-six messages on my phone when I wake up and Ben is gone. All of them are under Caleb's name so I delete the thread unopened and stretch. Ben comes in with coffee for us and some croissants on a plate. I am famished, ravenous but I can't choke back anything. I stick to the coffee instead.

So many messages.

I know, Bridge.

Did you read them?

No. Did you?


Bridget, I don't think I can stand by and watch this and not do something about it.


Lochlan is being just as stubborn. Why won't you let me help you?

You are.

He rolled his eyes and left again.

At noon I found his untouched coffee still on the night table so I took it down to the kitchen and poured it out.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Whiskey clicks.

Yes, I'm up. And I was awake last night up until the point where tea and toast took away the fumble-fingers and uncensored observations. I'll leave the post below up as a good reminder of how not to navigate fear and/or worries. Alcohol solves nothing.

It does help eradicate budding respiratory illnesses though, so the night was not a total loss and I did not wake up this morning with the pneumonia-rattle in my chest that has been making a sunrise appearance for several days now.

So...onward and upward, as Jacob used to say. Keep your mistakes so that you never forget how far you've come.

Caleb will be angry. There's one more thing gone that he thought he could somehow use against Lochlan and really there are only bits and pieces left if you ignore the whole outrage over whether or not I went on the road as an innocent child and left as a worldly freak.

Maybe I never really left at all.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


Oh yes, youre in trouble now. he said.

Lochlan siad.

But I'm also drunk so I don't really care and I and they forget to tkae away the laptop

I'm afraid of Caleb but I,m more afraid of revisinist history. If more poeple in my life, incoluding me would just tell the truth all the time everyone would bee soo much better off.

The whiskey maes me not care tonight though. It's been a long time. Half a glassjust put me in this place where it's amazing to see how invested everyone has become. How much I am loved.

oh well ben just said to say goodnight rbidget.

So goodnight Bridget


sorry for the spelligns. night xo

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Coming clean.

He put his hands over my eyes and spoke with his mouth against my ear.

Don't look, peanut. And when we leave tonight you're going to say you were somewhere else. I'll fix everything if it takes me the rest of my life.

I listened. I always did what Lochlan told me, even two nights after he broke up with me when he showed up at the house and asked me to go for a drive with him. We drove across one province and into the next. We drove for hours. He said he didn't want to break up but we had to keep up the appearance for safety's sake.

I was there when he torched our camper. I closed my eyes for absolution. I closed them in alibi. I closed them under orders and I kept the secret up until now because it's no longer important to keep some secrets. Sometimes old ones are let go in order to make way for new ones.

Of course it looked like an accident. He controls fire for a living. But he did not do it out of a sense of malice, he did it to move us to the next chapter in our lives. He did it to erase my memories and soothe my fears. He did it, at great risk, for me. And when he realized he didn't have his journals because he had taken everything out and put it in the back of his truck and then they were missing he was crushed. He has had the journals back for a while now and the truth is out and I was right.

Time corrupts.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Look way up. Feel small.

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the milky way
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind
Was it everything you wanted to find
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there
Tonight, for your viewing pleasure, Venus and Jupiter close together in the sky.

Enjoy. I will be. If the wind doesn't blow me off the cliff first. Hey, just like in the song.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sticky with purple sugar and wishes.

Sometimes little changes after all.

Back in the early days of this website a three-year-old Ruth would stand on the kitchen table in a tutu and butterfly wings eating a cupcake with sprinkles for breakfast while Cole played her a poem on his guitar and I made flower-shaped pancakes at the stove. I had no less than seven sets of tiny string lights crisscrossing the ceiling in the kitchen and at least two sets in every room beyond, leading to outside where the elm tree branches met over the center of the backyard, completing the cozy mood. Henry would sleep easily on the couch with the cat under a big fuzzy blanket and the snow never seemed to stop falling, freezing, melting.

Summer happened in a blink and that was when I smiled.

Teenagers happened in a blink and that is why I am still smiling.

They finally took winter away permanently, in a blink, and I smile more than ever before.

I still leave all the string lights plugged in all the time. A modern electric system means I can have more of them. The table sugar in this house is still dyed a soft shade of lavender and I still do a late-evening assembly line of packed lunches with tiny surprises for the very next day, rain or shine. I open umbrellas indoors (but never over my head) for the cats to hide under and I will do a card reading for you now if prompted or bribed with something special. Easter egg hunts are year-round. I found one in the shower this morning and peeled it under the water spray and tried and failed to eat it before it melted, the water was so hot. I don't save chocolate. Like magic, it does not keep for so long.

Most people don't seem to realize that.

Another thing they don't realize is that we bring magic closer, in places where you would think magic would only wait nearby until time permits. Instead, life should be the other way around.

That magic should be the norm and the pedestrian every-day should be rare and fleeting.

Friday, 9 March 2012


The rain poured down in sheets and ribbons all day. The ground was soaked. The trees dripped and umbrellas were almost useless against the endless deluge. But today was the final day of peace and relative quiet before March break begins and other than baking and icing cupcakes, I spent most of the day on the big shag carpet in the library, spread out on my back on the floor, my head resting on the small of Lochlan's back as he lay on his stomach, elbows propped.


It was nice.

I almost fell asleep once, book falling in slow motion to the floor beside my head instead of onto my face (for once) but then he sneezed and I said Bless you but I was so gone it came out like bleshoom and he said thanks and turned another page as my eyes closed once more.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Okay to go.

After a brief and cordial breakfast a couple of weeks ago to meet Sam's boyfriend, we haven't seen much of either of them. Nothing at all, actually, until today when they managed to coordinate a morning off together and I invited them for breakfast here, a risky but inevitable prospect, depending on the day.

Risky because you just never know when Lochlan is looking to have it out with someone or Caleb might be milling about randomly making people burst into flames. Sam's boyfriend is so very precious to him we are working on showing him our best sides.

Shut up. I'm really trying, for Sam's sake. Besides, I was excited to actually talk to the guy. Busy, noisy diners are not conducive to getting to know someone. This morning I got to know Matthew. Except he likes to be called Matt and he is so much like Sam the server at the diner had asked if they were brothers and I kept trying to see what was different.

Up close there are all sorts of small infractions that prevent a twins declaration. Namely, Matt is a bit of a clotheshorse. He appeared in a vintage mint-green dress shirt with pearl buttons and perfectly creased khaki pants. Slim leather belt, matching shoes and matching Coach laptop-manbag. Tortoiseshell glasses. Perfect hint of beard. Ben leaned way over and whispered in my ear as they were hanging up their coats that he had no idea hipsters were viable life partners and I had to bite my tongue not to laugh at that. I poked him hard and he straightened up instantly.

Sam is so...not a clotheshorse. Sam is grad-student chic, which means he's still carting around a fraying messenger bag he bought in 1998 and he may or may not wear his jeans eleven or twelve days in a row just because they look okay (I think he got that from Ben, frankly). They are two sizes too big and he wears a belt that has a brass buckle with a map of Poland on it.

Sam has never been to Poland. He doesn't know anyone who has visited Poland either.

Don't get me wrong, Sam is adorable. But he's not one to iron. Or do laundry. Or buy anything that matches. He doesn't actually shop at all, to tell you the truth.

Matt and Ben were introduced proper and Matt made all the right impressions. He knew of Ben. He thanked both of us for having him over. He was so charming I wanted to go upstairs and kick Duncan and tell him that if he could do Matthew-charming, the world would be his oyster, but I kept my pointy toes to myself and discovered instead that Matt is a scientist. An environmental scientist.

Whatever that is.

I refrained from making Contact jokes the entire morning. Oh yes I did. (Science versus religion? Get it? Matt can be Jodie Foster, Sam can be Matthew McConaughawt).

Matt is too bright for my table, mostly dismissing work talk in favor of talking about everything else. We covered world travels, motorcycles, death and decay, home-baked versus store-bought, strikes and the weather. We took him down to show him the beach and the yacht club that's going in (because it's a behemoth and a mess and I don't want to call it anything else) and we introduced him to Dalton, who wandered through the kitchen in a t-shirt and boxer shorts with his face in a bowl of raisin bran around eleven, and we answered truthfully when he asked practiced, polite and incredibly objective questions about the collective. He was genuinely curious. I can tell the difference now.

Ben offered him a lifetime membership but remember Ben is absolutely incorrigible and a sucker for a cute boy.

Bridget, because there's a first for everything, left her charm upstairs in the bureau drawer and went for submissive and shy instead of whatever it is that I usually do that people complain about.

Then Matt started to talk about Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn and then I couldn't contain myself and chirped out a whole bunch of questions and learned that he listens to everything and is incredibly knowledgeable about all kinds of different music.

Then it all made perfect sense to me. Music. Shared love of most of the people I know. On a solid par with the fair and drawing pictures and cake. The holy quad of awesome, in my mind.

As I sat and watched them talk, without mistakenly forcing the attention to myself, without spellbinding them with my own charm, I saw something wonderful. They listened with admiration and pride as the other told a story or related some little moment. They touched each other often, holding hands, squeezing shoulders. They looked so at ease with each other that it made me jealous that they are developing a love free of protagonists, villains and strife. Free of drama. Free of grief and regret always tilting the balance the wrong way.

It made me profoundly sad and I got quieter still until Ben slid his chair back to the corner where I sat staring at my tea leaves wondering what they say because I don't speak tea, and he put his arm around me and asked if I felt okay. When I looked up at him, two ghosts stood behind him, one with concern and one with smugness for expressions and I nodded and said I was a little tired today. Matt took that the right way and made a move to leave. I didn't want them to leave. I wanted to stay right there in the chair and watch them interact with each other and the world around them and I wanted to write down how they did it so I could study and practice it later and maybe get it right. I wanted to film it so I could parrot it in the mirror and I wanted it to never ever end.

But since it was practically lunchtime and Sam had to go to work (he starts at noon on most Thursdays and works until eight or nine in the evening) and Matt had a dentist appointment scheduled for right after lunch to make the most of his day off, they made their departure, each planting a kiss on my cheek and shaking hands with Ben. Sam told me to get some sleep. He glared it, I should say, because he knows I am prone to the whims of the night. I dismissed his concern because it wasn't valid under the circumstances. We all promised to get together Sunday night for a little bit of jazz in the sanctuary, after the evening service wraps up. I am told Matt's collection of vinyl rivals some of my boys.

Then Matt and Sam looked at each other and they both said Ready? at the exact same time. They went through the door and Ben saw them safely out the drive, hit the button for the gate once they were clear in their truck and then he came inside grinning from ear to ear and we both said Awww at the same time and burst out laughing.

Days like today are worth sharing.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

(Oh the whores you will find, when reading online!)

I feel like Dr. (or maybe that's Mrs.) Seuss tonight.

Oh the things I could say!
Since you won't go away!
We live life without rules,
Sure we're nobody's fools!
But just look deep inside
There is no place to hide!
You must stand in the light!
You'll put up your BEST fight!

Yes, I made that up. Lochlan's not the only one who can spin a good poem albeit it's been a while since I heard from his giant neverending book of perpetual mermaid poetry (example here). Maybe he dropped it in the bathtub and the pages are too wavy and waterlogged to see any longer.

Maybe hell will freeze over and the whole world will cease waiting for me to stop being so obvious.

Oh, good luck with that, all of you, and while you're here if you stay long enough you'll witness my so-not-PG lapdance. Who's the recipient, you ask? Well, does it really matter? You'll just fill in your own assumptions and your own depravities and I don't even need to be here, now, do I?

Go on, I'll wait while you pull yourself the fuck together. Don't forget to straighten your puritan hems. You know what they say, after all. Don't ever assume you have all the facts, or all the information, names, situations, requirements, rules, or gumption to think you understand my life because you don't.

I write fragments. Altercations, moments, memories, wishes, dreams and the odd little funny bit (to placate my mother, since she has the vapors over what I usually write) and the rest, as far as you must understand it, is off-limits. I'm not going to entertain email demands for more, I'm not going to confirm and deny, I'm not going to do any more than make you understand that...


What you see is what you get. Trust me, I didn't expect it to turn out this way either.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Creep calm and carry on.

(I take no credit for the title, it's on Ben's t-shirt, complete with a picture of his face. It was sent to him. He adores it.)
Sooner or later the tides will be back here
Returning for ever and changing everything
Now that all the good islands have sunk down into the ocean
We're deeper than you know
I'm playing more emo music and Ben is bored out of skull, reading a book, sprawled out on the couch. Again, this man takes up more physical area than anyone I have ever met. He has this way of spreading out all over a piece of furniture and that means he's relaxed. It's fun. I could throw myself into his vicinity and he would swallow me up in his arms and chew on my hair and keep me there, humming into my skull until I guess the song.

It would not be this Post-Britpop, however. He would stick to soft death metal and things I really love like Tool and Type-O, Gojira and Metallica. He would be so pleased when I name the band and the album. It's like some sort of hearing therapy for me if you ask him, because I spent half of yesterday listening to songs that I could not make out the words too and I was irritated, frustrated to the point where I returned to Lochlan's smaller, obscure but clear pop collection.

His head has started to nod. I love watching him fall asleep while he reads. The moment Ben slows down it's as if the oxygen is sucked out of the room and he is lights out. Maybe it's a circulation thing because he's so tall or maybe he is just getting old (HAHAHA) and starting to finally relax but when he sits down he sometimes nods off. Or maybe my narcolepsy is rubbing off. Maybe he's just tired. We stay up so late sometimes.

Maybe I'm just bored, he says suddenly, his voice thick with sleep. I jump through the ceiling. I wish people would stop doing that.

How did you know I was just writing about you?

You're smiling. What else could you be doing?

Monday, 5 March 2012

Masters of allusion.

We wait, watching the server pour coffee around the table, clockwise. She is efficient and professional and I don't watch as she struggles to place their faces. I feign boredom, looking out the window as early workers hurry down the snowy sidewalk to their offices. I didn't think it snowed here in March. I guess I was wrong.

So you never told him.

Both Ben and Lochlan break into comical grins. I roll my eyes.

It was none of his business. It's none of YOUR business.

It helps me to be informed if I am to keep an eye on him.

I can do that from home.

Yes, Bridget, you're doing a fantastic job. As are you. He glares at Ben. Ben's grin slides to the floor and he slouches out in his chair. He's taking up about six square feet of space at this point. He scratches his ear and shrugs.

You can't play both sides.

Lochlan nods, looking from me to Ben and back again. I feel like a child who stole a cookie and I try to take responsibility by speaking up. It's not his fault.

No, it's mine. It's too easy sometimes to overlook common sense and just give her what she wants. Ben glances from my ring to Lochlan.

That's never a good idea with Bridget, Lochlan tells him, missing the gentle dig entirely.

Hello? I'm sitting right here. I sit up in my chair so I am taller and Batman laughs out loud.

You three are so beyond convention. You tell me my life is skewed? It's nothing like what I see here.

Ben sits up again too. But it works. For the most part anyway.

Lochlan and I both nod.

Yes but leaving huge gaping surprises for people to discover doesn't help matters. When were you going to tell him?

When hell froze over. I didn't want him making any more trouble than he already does. It comes out in a near-whine and I struggle to compensate with regular word-sounds.

Bridget, don't forget you perpetuate that trouble as much as he does.

I'm working on it. Head down, playing with the spoons. There are five of them, all told. What sort of meal needs five spoons? I think I've topped out at three. Distractions are good, right?

Can you work harder?


I can't hear you, Bridget.


If you do that, then I have room to help you. Otherwise my hands are tied.

Better yours than mine,
I mutter under my breath.

What was that?

Nothing, I tell him.

He stands up and comes around to my side of the table, planting a hard kiss on top of my head. I heard it anyway and I agree. Do you think you can get through the remainder of this week without going looking for trouble?

Yes. I tell him. He leans over the table to shake hands with Ben and with Loch too and then he's gone and I watch his perfect form exit the near-empty dining room. We stand to leave as well. Lochlan pulls my chair back and reaches into my pocket, digging out the smallest silver spoon and replacing it on the table. I turn and follow him out, fishing into his pocket, pulling out the same-sized spoon. We would never actually leave with the items, it's just practice.

Ben does not participate in this. In addition to overlooking common sense, his method of concealment would be to eat the spoons. Then it would take so much longer to get them back. We can't have that, we're busy trying to keep up appearances around here.

Apparently it's working.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


They square off in the front hall on Saturday afternoon. Lochlan refuses to allow me to go. He found the envelope in my bag. He opened it and instead of his usual mere outrage, the inclusion of his name on the invitation brought him to a whole new level of fury. He confronts Caleb quietly as Caleb is checking in with Henry after lunch. Quietly because they always keep their violence civilized when the children are home. Caleb, ever unruffled, tells Lochlan that he should come along and then maybe for once, he could save me.


Dinner goes smoothly. Caleb has the servers bring the children ginger ale in champagne glasses and whatever else they want. He chats over their heads with Ben and Chris and Dalton. He generously asks me how Batman is doing. He talks a little about a new plan to dabble in venture capitalism. We are celebrating, for everyone loves a birthday. Once the main course winds down we make our traditional remarks and personal toasts. You can take five minutes or thirty. You can make it a wish or a hope or a memory or a story. You cannot pass. No one's ever passed and yet Lochlan's absence is felt, a glaring cold spot where his arm would be loosely hung around the back of my chair, and he would put on his showman's hat and everyone would feel at ease. Tonight his choice not to attend is a particular display of rebelliousness after our conversations of last week.

I make my toast first. Caleb's eyes well up briefly. A quick recovery and he applauds my words as everyone raises a glass. I drink and take my seat. If only time could go backwards. He could have saved me too.

But he is more interested in exploiting everything. I watch him while he listens to the others. I watch his expressions change and overlap and he comes around to stare back at me across the table so many times I wonder if he is tuning out the words as well but he isn't or his expressions would stop chang-oh, yes, just like that. I tear my eyes away and look at Ben, who brings his arm up loosely across the back of my chair. But I can't get warm. I look down into my lap at my phone. There are nine calls from Lochlan. None have gone to voicemail.


We come home and get the children tucked in to bed, lights off, doors pulled just-so and then we send off all of the others too. I laugh at Duncan, he is positively shitfaced and he tells me to be careful before closing his door clumsily in my face. I frown at the painted panels. I look toward Lochlan's door but it is closed tightly, lights off underneath, not a sound from within when I press my ear very hard against it to check.

Ben said he would meet me at the boathouse, that he was going to go ahead and talk a little business with Caleb, something that drives me to total frustration outside of standard hours so I am grateful. He gave me a kiss and told me not to take long.

I changed into a different dress, fixed my lipgloss and unpinned my hair. Then I put my phone on the charger, checked the kids once more to make sure they were asleep already and that sober-Dalton's door was cracked just enough to keep an ear out and then I passed through the rest of the house, turning off lights, checking doors and windows, taking my keyring as I went out the side door, locking it behind me.

I was halfway across the driveway when Lochlan stepped out from the trees along the edge of the woods. I think I must have jumped fifty feet and then some, heart restarted on the way back down, nerves blown, mind recuperating in slow-motion, all of my thoughts scattered in the night.

If you need me to fight for you, I will. If you need me to protect you, I'm here. But you can't put yourself in danger on purpose, peanut.

I didn't!

I know you didn't.

Then why do you make me go through everything alone? I turn away and walk deliberately until I reach the steps. When I turn back he is gone.


Caleb refills my glass for the third time with whiskey. Neat. Straight. Burn. Slip into the void. Forget everything, dollface. He tells me some things never change. I nod dizzily and stare at him. They don't. Everyone resolved to change and do better and try harder and yet I'm still screaming out safe words in the dead of night, words that will be ignored as always.

Where is Ben? I asked him finally. I'm annoyed. I'm also drunk now. Great.

He slipped back to the house to fetch some paperwork to show me. He'll be back in a few moments.

He starts to pull my rings off, to put in the little dish on the table because he will not touch me with them on and pauses as he exchanges them from his right hand to his left.

Bridget. What is this?

He holds up a simple band, far shinier than the others and my throat closes over in panic. I forgot to take it off when I changed. I didn't want him to see it.

Who gave you this ring?

I'm not answering. I forgot. I didn't prepare a speech for this moment. I have no sweet remarks, no toast to my own efforts at massive and total defection from the crowded position of neutral. My pokerface wasn't in the box when I was opened and constructed. I don't lie, I just freeze.

The door opens and Caleb starts to turn around. Maybe Ben can shed a little light on this develop-

Lochlan is standing there.

Come on, Bridget. Get your things, we're going.

She's here to celebrate with me, for my birthday. Caleb sounds like Henry when he wants to argue an immature point.

It's one in the morning. Your birthday is over. And the ring came from me.