I take the champagne when he brings two glasses out to the railing. Our new tradition, forged in the trenches where someone told the Princess and the Devil to co-parent peacefully.
Here's to the beautiful mother of my son. He holds his glass up. I blush reluctantly and take a sip. This is supposed to be reciprocal but I change the subject.
Cheers. He's an amazing little man.
Caleb takes the compliment anyway, even though he gets little credit for it, since nature is something that scares me to pieces in this case and nurture has had clear sailing for over a decade now.
So, why didn't you write something different on Friday?
What do you m-
I thought you would have talked about Cole, and the six years of him raising Henry as his own, and instead of paying your respect on that day you give life to Lochlan's fantasies instead?
My face turns the color of the envelope peeking out of his shirt pocket. Ashen grey. My first instinct is to throw the champagne in his face and the glass over the railing before storming off. My second instinct is to turn cold and demand that he be ashamed of himself for trying to control my writing. My third instinct is to admit that...
..that I forgot.
I forgot that Friday the thirteenth marked six years since Cole died from the complications of his heart exploding. It was wrapped around me and I broke free and because of that he died.
Six years. Henry turns eleven tomorrow and it seems like so long ago when I was trying to have a birthday for him because he was turning five and that's such a big deal and I couldn't do it because I couldn't feel anything but death. Not a thing.
Ever since we've made a huge effort to separate the two days and now I see why they were all so patient on Friday and I wasn't aware of the date past being so fucking happy it was a hot sunny Friday and that meant two days of no work and everyone being around and I worked steadily toward today's celebrations with only my son (and the living) in mind.
Because it's private and I've decided I will keep him that way. I lie and swallow the rest of my champagne in one huge gulp. It burns my nose and my throat as I watch Caleb's face turn angelic, a sweet smile filling in his cheeks with just the right amount of tears in his eyes and I know I played my part the way it was written for me.
Just like I always do.
He pulls out the envelope and I'm caught so off-guard I take it and open it on the spot. With dismay I see that this invitation is more complicated than most, and that I won't be permitted to be forgetful in the future, because just as I think I might be one step ahead of Caleb, I look up to find he is in front of me, reaching out to push me back a little, just so I constantly have to make up ground. So I never get ahead.
I've decided I am livid with myself when I look up and see the look on his face. We have competing emotions of surprise and disappointment written all over our faces. He takes the envelope out of my hands, replacing it in his pocket without breaking his gaze.
You don't have to accept the invitation, Bridget, but please don't ever lie to me again.