Sunday, 30 September 2012


We're sitting in the sun at a little cafe. At the counter as we were collecting our coffees the server went to great pains to draw layered hearts in the cream, as if we were together. I frowned and Caleb ignored the whole thing but tipped heavily, like he always does. The server was confused and busied himself with the next round of orders, not bothering to try and sort it out. I sit down, draw a jagged line through the heart with a wooden stirrer, and Caleb breaks out in a short laugh.

I need the plane.

I haven't renewed the lease, Bridget. I thought you would remember that when you saw us booking business class. The plane is currently in reserve to someone else. I no longer travel nearly as much as I once did.

Fine, I'll book something myself.

You're not going to New York.

You just finished saying everyone over forty is a grownup here so you don't get to forbid a damned thing.

You don't count.

Wow. If Ben were here you'd be happy to book on my behalf.

Bridget, what is the best way to gain or keep power?

Divide and conquer.

How am I doing?

I turn to watch the boats struggle against the wind in the water. I don't answer him. I could tell him maybe he is responsible but he would deny it. I could tell him to leave all of us alone but he wouldn't. I could lavish praise on him for his evilness but he would doubt my conviction so I use silence instead, the only thing from me that he can't understand one bit.

I want you to remember something, Bridget. Out of all the men you've ever loved, I'm the only one who has never tried to push you away on purpose. The only one. My proposals are for your benefit as well as mine. No more worry, drama or doubt. We work well together. We'd be happy. You would never have to work a day in your life ever again.

I consider this as I sip my broken-hearted, overpriced coffee and I smile to myself when I catch him.

Who said I ever loved you?

You did once.

Was there a loaded gun pointed at my head?

 No, actually. He says it softly. He can't steer the whole conversation anymore and I can see the fire leaving his eyes. He picks up his cup and takes a sip while he surveys the people around us. You don't remember, do you?


That's okay. It's probably a good thing.


You were loaded, not the weapon.

I watch him as he continues to evade meeting my eyes. Does it count if I'm loaded?

I hope so, Bridget. It's one of the few things that keeps me in line when I want to go very far afield with you.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

The Chastening.

Raised voices in the driveway this morning woke me up and I went out on the balcony to see what was going on.

Caleb's home. By himself. Unloading his carry-on and his briefcase from the front of his car. He and Lochlan are trading harsh words but I can't hear what they're saying so I head downstairs and out the front door in my bare feet, Hello Kitty pajama bottoms and Ben's Excelsior t-shirt no match for a frosty, sunny morning.

Go back and get him. How fucking irresponsible can you be? 

Ben is forty-three years old, Loch. I know you're used to babysitting but he made up his own mind and I had to get back.

When is he coming home? 

When he decides, I suppose. You'll have to ask him. 

Did you remind him that he has responsibilities here? 

What exactly? Playing second fiddle in the family band isn't exactly Ben's forte. 

He needs to be here for her! Lochlan points at me. I have made my way to the end of the walkway and I wait there. Lochlan didn't even turn around and he knew I was there.

Caleb puts his briefcase down and a little bit of evil leaks from his expression. He tilts his head. I would have thought you'd be thrilled he's staying longer than anticipated. It gives you more time to spend playing with your doll without the constant reminder of how badly you fucked everything up and how you'll never EVER have her the way you want.

My mouth falls open.

Stop it! I walk right past Loch and confront Caleb. Why didn't he come back with you? 

He didn't say. But he seems together, if that's what you are worried about. 

Together? That doesn't mean anything. Why would you come back without him?

Like I told Pyro. Ben is an adult. Plus he has all kinds of work he can do down there.

I need him here. 

Lochlan's talking on top of me. He should be here for Bridget.

BUT YOU'RE HERE! Caleb roars at Lochlan. It's really odd that you want him back here for Bridget. Makes me see exactly how difficult a time you have with being responsible for her. Maybe Ben is giving you a chance to show off your true colors once and for all. Then she'll understand for herself that you're completely incapable of doing much more than mindless entertaining. In this kingdom, you have defined yourself as the court jester. Dismissible. Forgettable. Temporary. 

Lochlan is stunned into total silence. So am I. We look at each other and then back at Caleb, who won't shut up suddenly. He hasn't said this much in one breath since forever.

Maybe Ben's giving you both a little tough love. He made a fatal mistake bringing you on board. He only did it because he thought it would make her happy but it's backfiring. And Bridget is as stubborn as she is beautiful and prefers to pretend that since she can't actually see our flaws that we must not have any. Maybe Ben's going to shine a light on all of that now and come out the victor. At least that's what I would be doing if I were him.

What if he bets wrong? Lochlan's eyes are smiling but his face isn't. What if I can pull this off and there's nothing for him to come back to? Lochlan's a betting man. Always was, always will be. He got that from the fair. I will bet on nothing of significance only, I got that from the fair too. It's not worth it. We lost too much.

Loch, in the forty years we have known each other, you haven't been able to sufficiently take care of anything, least of all Bridget. Not a career, not a home, not a pet and suddenly you find yourself with a wife and child and you are so ill-prepared I don't doubt for a second that you are the one being taken care of here, instead of them. You show your true colors every time, Brother. Every single fucking time. 

Friday, 28 September 2012


I just have a couple more meetings I want to stay in town for. 

How long, Ben?

I don't know yet, Bee. 

Is Caleb there? 

Not right now. He went out somewhere for dinner. He knows everybody. It's weird. 

Yeah, it is weird. How are you doing?

I'll call you in the morning. You okay? Do you need anything?

Yeah. I need you. 

If I thought that was true I would be there right now. 

Straight to voicemail.

Well, this is humiliating but after waiting forty extra hours I really don't fucking care.
She swings a string of pearls on the corner
The streelight reflects the light on the water
The string, it snaps and the pearls go sailing
And they splash and bounce and roll cross the wet street
It's difficult to be the messenger, knowing I'll be shot for sheer lack of information, knowing I am already dead.

PJ can't process my news. What do you mean you don't know when he'll be home, Bridget?

He didn't say. 

August's turn. But did you ask? 

Yes, of course. He didn't even acknowledge the question. It was a twenty-second call.

Ask Caleb. This, from Dalton.

He hasn't responded to anything yet.

Is Ben okay? Gage is uninformed and curious. Curious = caring, that's good.

I heard from him late last night. Daniel speaks up. He asked me to pick up some strings and cables before he gets back. He asked if you were okay. He didn't let on anything was weird. Sounded fine. Tired but fine.

Maybe he's just distracted. You know he gets when he's there. Like a kid who's had too much sugar and-

Bridget, He knows you don't like it when he's away. Andrew is frowning at me.

Remember when he went out to do the shows and hardly called? He's always been like this. I'm sure he's fine.

Want me to go fetch them? Duncan stands up, as if flying to New York will take half an hour instead of half a day. It was supposed to be a thirty-hour trip and still nothing.

I shake my head. Just keep trying him.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies.

Get a little bit higher,
So we can fall til we bleed
Push a little bit harder
Pull me into the speed
So tell me can you feel this?
Come into my dream
Are you ready to awaken?
Are you ready to feed?
Cause I need to feel
Yeah, I need to say
I must confess, I’m addicted to this
Shove your kiss straight through my chest
Midnight came and went and I was still seeing everything through a spin. He walked me backwards up the stairs and down the hall, his arm around my waist, my feet hardly touching the ground as I held his face in my hands, stealing kisses he didn't seem to want to spend.

Sleepytimes, Bridget. (I'm not the only one who's fucked.)

No. Stubborn girl that I am, I bite his lip hard. He responds in so many ways I don't know what to touch first so I simply go for broke. Everything.

Wait. He says it into my mouth as he turns the knob and in we go. Pitch black, full dark. Our senses recalibrate and launch into overdrive, touch taking center stage. He closes the door and backs me up against it, lifting my dress up over my hips, hands sliding everywhere, our foreheads pressed together as we fight to breathe the little air that remains that hasn't polluted our judgement all to hell.

He tries again. You need to go to bed.

I need you. I try to slide down to the floor in front of him but he grabs my throat, holding me up. He resumes his efforts to take me out of my dress, kissing down my shoulder, pinning me with his torso as I grind against him, fighting my way back out.

I always lose.

He hooks his hands under my knees and slides me up the door and that's it, I can't fight anymore. Now I just hold on very hard as the ceiling comes closer still and then slides away. He smiles into a kiss and stops, pinning me between his body and the wall before resuming, slower than slow. I can feel him trembling and it drives me over the edge.

He has other plans, and lowers us to the floor. His hand comes back up to cradle my face as his other hand finds a purchase on the back of my thigh. He drops all of his weight on me, pulling me up into his rhythm until I forget everything else. The floor has no give, it makes everything hurt in the best way possible but he is not happy with it and so he pulls me up over his knees and sits on the floor, lifting me in his arms, dropping me back down hard, my breathing confined to a small space just underneath his chin. I hold on as hard as I can and we make our return trip to outer space, ending just as I think I can't do this anymore.

He smiles and smothers my face with more kisses. Gentle ones now instead of the ones that sting, ones that bruise. He tells me to hold on tight and he gets up, holding me in his arms and throws me on the bed, climbing on after me, over me, bringing the sheets and blankets up with him, settling in with his arms around me, landing another good kiss on my forehead as my shoulders and hips begin to burn from scraping into the carpet. I ask him how his knees are and he says they fucking hurt so bad but I don't care, no, I don't care about anything right now except for you. 

I am so tired now I can no longer outrun the tequila and it catches up with me and turns my lights out, blurring my motives, blurting out confirmations I had no intentions of making. Me neither.


Late this morning I make my way downstairs quietly, gingerly, mildly headachily. Loch is at the table alone eating toast. He asks me how I'm doing and then winces as he gets up to hug me. His knees are fucked, bleeding, shredded. Lochlan, we need to look after that. 

Yeah. What about you?

Just slightly burned all over my whole backside, no blood though. 

He makes a small grateful smile at that and leads the way down the hall into the bathroom so I can grab the first aid kit.

Funny how the tides have turned and now I'm the one looking after you, I joke but when I look up the clouds have passed in front of the sun in his eyes and he isn't smiling anymore.

Yeah, funny, isn't it? He corrects his expression but it's too late. I don't know what to make of it so I just load it up with iodine and gauze, taping it well but ensuring he has some range of movement. It's the same way I treat all mortal wounds for the two of us, just like he taught me to do: clean it, cover it, and wait for things to get better.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Brought to you by the Sam and Matt show. Now with tequila!

A postcard came in the mail with information from Starbucks on how my free drink entitlements would be put on the card, instead of having to have a drink postcard by itself. Um, oops. I tossed the card when it ran out like eight months ago. I'm not very good at city life, I'm afraid. Spent it all on brownies for Henry anyway.


I'm perusing designer (sorry, artisan) cheese in the grocery store when I'm suddenly acutely aware there is someone standing close by and talking and yet no one else is around. Assuming it's Caleb again I ignore him completely this time until the basket is lifted out of my hand and Lochlan puts packs of chicken and some green peppers in as he takes the load. I pull out my earphones and smile at him just in time to hear him decline a dinner invitation from some total stranger on my behalf because, as the stranger can see, I already have plans for dinner. Lochlan is gracious and annoyed at the same time and I don't even have a sweet clue what's going on.

Running errands has become akin to dodging the Casual Encounters page on Craigslist. I swear to God, I had no idea everybody in West Vancouver was so desperate.

I live with some of them.


Sam and Matt are so incredibly sweet and hot together that they have become my new television, on twenty-four hours a day, commercial-free. The romance channel. Also worth noting, we are watching Revolution on Monday nights now. It's very good and I love it. I wish it was commercial-free but I don't get the whole PVR thing and so whatever. I'm not going to spend more money on a fourth cable box for one tv show. I'm just happy there's finally something on worth watching.


I have an iPhone. Clearly the apocalypse is upon us. Who KNEW!? I was the very last holdout after that drunken fiasco in which I dropped the 3G and shattered it (also TEQUILA). This time they gave me one made of ALL GLASS.

I know. What are they thinking!

They were tired! Of hearing me complain! Because I dropped (!) my Nexus S in the water twice (Okay, no I didn't. I FELL IN THE CREEK on a hike and it flew out of my hoodie pocket and then three days later it slipped into a full mug of tea with honey and was never the same and very finicky so when the boys went to get their iPhone 5s I was gifted a gently-loved 4.

I will love it hard, I promise. First thing I got for it? A slide-out bluetooth keyboard case! Huzzah!!

I really had no idea I kill nice phones along with husbands. NEW TALENT.


No, I'm not going to fucking Meet the Teacher night. I know all the teachers.


Wherrrrrrrrre is the food replicator already? I have to make dinner. Blah. Too tired.


Musically we're fucked. I was listening to In this Moment, Caleb has Testament on (10...9...8...7...6....6....6....hahahahahaha, how fitting) and PJ was sporting something called Orange Goblin and then Lochlan has Apocalyptica in his headphones and Gage has Evans Blue on and Jesus, Mary and...August? well, he's got...James Taylor on in there. I can hear it. I know his secrets.


Yes, I'm drunk! Wednesday at 4. New record! Not my fault. Matt has been mixing drinks all afternoon and apparently none of us can resist him, even though only what, four of us can partake at this point.

Good thing, that.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Drive-by Lochlanisms.

So..Frankenweenie is allowed to use forbidden words and the rest of us are still relegated to calling dead-end streets 'unturnaroundables'?


Relief, in Ben-form. Wiseass.

Down through my lashes today, down down down to the bottom of the sea where the plaques bolt into the rocks and the waves pound the letters away slowly.

I'm still not allowed here on the edge by myself but I'm not by myself today. Ben is here with his smile turned upside-down, raw silence on the stereo and his hands in his pockets instead of at-the-ready.

Luckily I am tired and worn to smithereens, mentally empty and not a flight risk today.

So Caleb broke your soul, Cole, your body, Loch broke your heart and Jake your head. What's left for me to have a go at? He says it softly but we haven't looked at each other in a while. I can hardly hear him.

My future. I turn and gaze at him, my back to the ledge.

He looks up. We're already driving that into the ground here, little bee.

I nod and swing my arms out wide and my whole body pivots and corrects.

Come away from there, Jesus, please. He reaches out and takes my arm, pulling me in closer, away from the bluff, out of the wind that threatens to smash me on the bronze markers. He keeps talking.

What if maybe they only temporarily wounded those parts of you? Since physically you're okay right now, except for this stupid cold. And your heart is still beating, not broken completely. You're here on earth so your soul is intact. And your head is sort-of okay. Well, maybe not okay but some days are good. I don't think your mind is broken or you'd be in the corner drooling and staring at the static on a TV screen.

So everything's fine then. Perfect, I'm still breathing, I can function moderately well and I hate white noise so tell me, Ben, what the fuck does all this MEAN, then?

It means you're...He is trying to stifle a laugh and I"m going to smack him. It means you're emo.

Wow. Yup. That's it. I'm emo. I was waiting for someone to clue in.

Sorry, I'm a bit slow. He taps his head.

Yup. You took forever, for crying out loud. I roll my eyes and climb down off the rock wall, headed toward the house.

Jesus, Bridget, I was only kidding. You smiled! You thought it was funny!

My broken heart is not funny!


Fine, wounded. Lying on the battlefield, bleeding out. Great, my death is now fucking Groundhog Day to be repeated every twenty-four hours.

So should I wait until you actually die today before we....


Only for me. You won't even know what's happening. You'll be dead.

I think that's illegal.

Only if I'm caught.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Inverse (two months later).

(Go back and read yesterday's post. Then read this one. Now tell me which way is up. Yeah, that's what I thought you'd say.)

Fortune brings me around for a respite when Cole and Caleb decide to go together on a rare outing to an art show, leaving me home alone. I have a cold from running around in those non-waterproof thigh-high boots for weeks on end. I am run-down and feverish and thrilled to have a day to myself. I promptly change into jeans and a worn t-shirt with a warm hoodie over that and my All-Stars. I take the bus into the city and I knock on Lochlan's door precisely at two.

He is not attentive or chivalrous. He takes a drag from his cigarette, pushes his glasses back up his nose and turns away from me, walking back inside. His apartment is three rooms and not luxurious in the least but neat and clean and..useful. The door opens into a half-hallway and the couch is along that wall, desk to my immediate right, small dining room table in the open space in front of the desk, TV unused in between, then on two walls there are cupboards that mostly construct a tiny kitchen. At the end of this open area there's a door on the left that leads to another micro-hallway with doors to his bedroom and the bathroom. I follow him in, closing the door myself. He puts out his cigarette and frowns at me.

How are you? He waits exactly five-tenths of a second and then says You know what? Nevermind. I can see for myself (Only it comes out meself). He pulls my collar down and sees marks. Who's responsible?

I shake my head.

The new guy? What the fuck's his name again?

Loch! Stop it.

I can't trust you with any of them,  it seems. You have a new best friend? Just like that.  How does that even happen?

He's just a friend. And don't you think things happen for a reason?

What things? No, they don't. There's no such thing as fate. There's plans and there's coincidence, nothing more.

What about magic, Loch?

Not the same thing, peanut. Magic, well, that's what you and I had.

He pulls me forward into his arms until my face is wedged under his chin, against his throat, his hand smoothing my hair down, his breath hot on my head. He leads me over to the bed and pushes me down gently, in the middle of a kiss. He unzips my hoodie and pulls my arms out gently and smells my hair. You smell so good, Bridget. He admires his girl before he breaks her heart into so many pieces we never did find them all. We never will.
I love you for everything you ever took from me
I love the way you dominate and you violate me
I love you for every time you gave up on me
I love you for the way you look when you lie to me
I love you for never believing in what I say
I love you for never once giving me my way
I love you for never delivering me from pain
I love you for always driving me insane
Hours later I feel rejuvenated and alive. I sit up and he pulls me back down, threading my hair through his fingers, pulling it away from my face as I gaze into his eyes. Lochlan kisses me and it means everything. He reminds me that I am to watch myself around the brothers Grimm and the new guy too and he lets go gently, pushing me away. I protest but he does not notice, too busy looking through his wallet. He takes out a stack of bills and gives them to me and kisses my shoulder. Hide those away in case you ever need them and stay here and get some sleep. You have a fever, he orders, I have to work but I want to make you dinner later tonight. He slips back into his clothes, grabs his backpack and heads out the door.

I carefully fold the bills and tuck them into his night table drawer for him to find some other time. I snuggle back into the blankets, falling asleep in the light scattered across the bed in the late afternoon, the late-fall sun still persisting through the turned leaves, delirium clouding my dreams.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

1998 (twenty years in.)

It's fall. Boom. Equinox. Leaves. Color. Summer's end. She left in the night without saying goodbye probably weeks ago and I got up this morning and pulled on a clingy black knit dress, black stockings with seams that have to be stick-straight or they make people dizzy and my thigh-high boots that make it hard to bend my knees. Huh. I'll have to fix that soon enough, since it seems I'm on my knees more often than not. I spent the whole day breaking in the boots before midafternoon when I arrived at his front door.

Come inside.

I obey and cross the threshold. I wait near him until he has closed and locked the door and then he takes my hand and leads me down the hall.

How is he?

He's fine. Working hard. 

Do you need anything, Bridget? 

No, I say it softly. Yes, I need something, Diabhal. I need escape. I need protection from your brother, I need you to not pretend to believe me when I tell you Cole is just too busy for me because that's not what this is at all and I wish you would set me free and I'd also like you to know I'm only here because I'm trying to double-cross you, and failing miserably besides.

Who is he?

Who is who?

The new friend you've been spending time with. Wow, someone's fast.

He's nice. Taking his masters. More of an acquaintance than a friend. I just met him and had to give him back a jacket he lent to me. He's harmless.

You don't think things happen for a reason, Bridget?

Which things? I am eager for him to note the difference. Instead he throws me down on the duvet and pulls off my boots. He admires how straight I put on my stockings before he rips them to shreds and he admires his girl before he breaks her soul in so many pieces we never did find them all. We never will.
I’m the one that you need and fear
Now that you’re hooked, it’s all becoming clear
That all your judgments that you placed on me
Was a reflection of discovery
So maybe next time when you cast your stones
From the shadows of the dark unknown
You will crawl up from your hiding place
Take a look in the mirror
See the truth in your face

So how can this be?
You’re praying to me
There’s a look in your eyes,
I know just what that means
I can be, I can be your everything
I can be your whore
I am the dirt you created
I am your sinner
I am your whore
But let me tell you something baby
You love me for everything you hate me for
Hours later when my hands are so sore I can't lace my boots properly, he pulls my hair until my head tips way back and I let my eyes take their time to land back in line with his and he kisses me once more as if it means anything and he reminds me that I am to watch myself around new people and he lets go roughly, pushing my head away. I bite my tongue when my head snaps forward hard and open my mouth in surprise. He does not notice, too busy looking through his wallet. He takes out a piece of paper and removes a pen from his breast pocket and scrawls something on it. Then he gives me the paper and kisses my shoulder. Stay and rest, he orders, I have court, but I want to take you to dinner tonight. He takes his giant, heavy briefcase with him and leaves.

I rip the note into tiny pieces and throw it up into the air, letting it fall all over the room, tiny shreds of whatever horrible little bit of information he has for me scattered on the late afternoon like the fall sun on the newly-turned leaves.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Through a Barlow lens.

When he lifted my chin up he scowled into my face, bonked my nose with his and then kissed me on the forehead when my eyes filled up with tears.

I told you not to do that without me there, peanut, he scolded. I had lifted a wallet from a man who was too inebriated to move quickly enough and crowed so in my victory that I didn't notice his friends, who were just fine, standing just to my right. I dropped the wallet and took off running and was not caught but I hurt myself something awful when I dove between two rows of barbed wire into a empty field on the perimeter of the show grounds.

I lay bleeding in the grass in the dark until I was sure it was safe to get up and move again, since Lochlan said a long time ago if you are caught, drop everything and they will usually stop chasing you pretty quick. This was an offhand remark he made, since he was not actively recruiting me to go out alone and pick pockets. If anything he HATED when I was with him and he had to resort to that to feed us.

Ow! I flinch as the warm cloth touches my abraded ear. I think I left half my hair on the fence.

I think I need iodine for this. Was it rusted? Why am I even asking? Of course it was rusted. Probably filthy. Jesus, Bridget. What have you done?

I close my eyes and he keeps working as gently as he can. Underneath all that blood I bet have no skin left. My shoulder is the worst, I imagine we'll go outside so he can pour cool water over it because if he puts the rough washcloth on it I might punch him in the face to make him stop.

He frowns. Empty your pockets. I think we'll go outside and I'll flush everything out.

I smile and turn around and pull out three twenty dollar bills. Never said I didn't take the cash before I dropped that wallet, because I watch him more closely than he realizes, sometimes.He is my hero, because I'm twelve and don't know any better yet.

His eyes light up and he grins and laughs. Well, isn't this ironic! I get to spend this on a first aid kit.

Friday, 21 September 2012


What are you doing, Bridget?

Listening. There has to be a third song.


There needs to be one more song to complete this. A trilogy, if you will.

Just accept what they give you and enjoy it.

I can't. They're like drug dealers and this is crack.

Nice analogy, Princess.

That's the only way I can describe what some songs do to me, Jake.

You want to know what I'm going to do to you right now? He reaches over and pulls my shirt up over my head, careful not to snag my hair as it cascades through my collar. I'm not going to listen to bitter songs with you, if that's what you were hoping for,  Pigalet.

They did indeed put out a third song, finishing the set, almost a year after Jacob flew. I wonder if he's heard it yet?
How can I be lost?
In remembrance I relive
And how can I blame you
When it's me I can't forgive?

These days drift on inside a fog
It's thick and suffocating
This seeking life, outside it's hell
Inside intoxicating
He's run aground like his life
Water much too shallow
Slipping fast, down with the ship
Fading in the shadows

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Abject and true.
It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend on a faulty camera in our minds.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Go seek.

You can sing all you want, brother, but she's never going to be your soulmate.

That was all it took this morning for Ben to upend the whole breakfast table (which seats fourteen people) and send Lochlan to the floor. I'm not sure why Loch persists in digging his own grave every fucking goddamned day but I believe it might be deep enough by now.

I'm glad it was only the three of us who were present, since I feed the early boys early, then the kids with PJ and Danny and then the rest of them get their own, and then I can sit and enjoy my coffee and waffles with my two former favorite people, neither of whom is keeping any promises at all this morning. At least they managed to not break any dishes for once but it took a really long time to scrub the coffee off the walls.


He is the cat and I am the canary and I sought refuge in his company the moment I had the kitchen cleaned up, opting to practice defiance over obedience, the morning dramatics forcing a new sort of exasperated recklessness. I took my big basket of blackberries and off I went, ostensibly to use Caleb's kitchen and hide out for a bit.

True to form, the moment he comes to the door, he does two things:

1) He tells me I never have to knock. He knows I'm coming and never locks his door besides.

2) He invites me in and was just finishing something or other and has all the time in the world. This is new this year. He's definitely one of the few who reprioritizes when he says he's going to do so. No longer do I need to wait for conference calls to end, or a break between meetings if I appear. He just drops whatever he's doing and gives me all the attention I want or need until I have enough or have to go or walk out on him or whatever.

(He's actually working very hard on making our encounters positive so that I stop walking out on him so much but I imagine that will be a slow process that won't ever end.)

Caleb takes the basket and turns to go into the kitchen, setting it beside the sink.

What are we making? Pies?


Mmm. I've never done this before.

I did one batch already but I want to make more. You don't have to stay.

No, I think this will be great. You lead the way and I will take orders.
He winks at me when I look up at him, startled, and quickly changes the subject. Up at the house this morning...was anyone hurt?

How did you know?

I heard a crash.

No, they're fine.

Doesn't sound like it to me.

I don't want to talk about it.

Me neither. I want to make this jam. Let's get to work.

Two hours later we had nine more jars sealed and cooling on the counter, in addition to the fourteen jars I already made last week. Caleb hangs the towel on the oven door handle and turns back to me, rolling his shirtsleeves back down. Does the timing mean I can invite you out for lunch?

No, I should go back. I want to talk to Lochlan.

He winces just barely but understands he is caught anyway. What do you say to that sort of behavior?

Not to do it?

Does that work? Does it work like it does when they tell you to stop doing things you do that upset them?
He is smiling again. He's poking holes in the way I hold my life and all the good parts pour out through the tiny jabs like an hourglass and when my time is up I know everything's going to change again.

It doesn't matter, it's not your concern.

Sure it is. Put simply, Bridget, if Lochlan was your soulmate, you would easily be able to avoid spending so much time with the one person he despises more than anyone else on earth. But here you are anyway. Maybe you should question your choice of soulmate after all. A soulmate is usually the person who is your other half, your perfect match, and I daresay neither one of them live up to your character. Not by a long shot.

But I always go for the longshots.

You should look a little closer to home. We're cut from the same cloth, Bridget. There's a reason we can't leave each other alone.

Cue the walk-out. Thanks for helping with the jam, Caleb. It wasn't until I was halfway across the driveway that I realized he even knew exactly what Lochlan had said to set Ben awry. Lochlan spoke somewhat softly, just loud enough to be heard and no more.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

When all else fails, Tucker, sing.

(On days like this I wish Ben would give up metal for easy listening and I wish PJ would stop telling me these kinds of entries are too personal to post and too cheesy for others to appreciate. I've found the exact opposite to be true.)

I went down to ask Ben why he was being SUCH a fucking DICK this week so far (because we don't mince words, we like them whole), and has been all but absent after throwing rule after rule upon me, to the point where I believe I am allowed in the kitchen, one of the bathrooms and our bedroom but otherwise forget it. I was buried in his blanket orders and unable to understand his motives past trying to find some way to keep me out of trouble when trouble and I are Siamese twins, joined at the hip.

It fucking sucks. I have things to do. I don't like being pegged down but at the same time he just didn't know what else to do anymore so he made a bunch of rules and then disappeared downstairs to bury himself in work.

So it was time we talked past You can't do x, y or w, now just stay the fuck put already, bee!

I had my case ready to plead. I threw the door open and...was put in my place instantly. He was expecting me, and he was practicing. Practicing. By the time he finished the boys were lined up behind me, watching, struck silent.

He was singing Bridge Over Troubled Water and he didn't miss a note, even the difficult ones at the end. Probably a metaphor for everything else, that is.
Sail on silver girl, sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I'm sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Monday, 17 September 2012


Okay, so..Lochlan's still reading the blog.

So noted.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Horror movies were my first true love. Not only because I love being scared, but because I liked watching everyone else be scared too.

I sat very still on the couch between Cole and Caleb and every time Jason Voorhees came onscreen I would simply close my eyes. At the end of the movie everyone said I was so brave, I didn't tell them I had missed 90% of the plot but I now knew the inside of my eyelids better than ever before. I thought that was pretty profound at ten years old, but at eighteen Caleb could not read my mind yet and said I was more hardcore than any other girl he knew.

Andrew, at eleven, just nodded. He wanted to be like Caleb but he had a hard time concealing his wide fearful eyes and the hair standing up on his forearms. He pulled Christian aside and asked him if he could walk home with him now instead of going alone through the woods behind the baseball field. I laughed. They never made me walk alone but the first one to jump out from behind a tree and scare me would get a watershed of scared-tears that would scar them with guilt for the rest of their lives, exacting a pledge that it would never ever happen again.

But it did. Over and over again. Cole was probably the worst. He would make some excuse and take off in the other direction, only to double back around and jump out at us somewhere along the path. I learned to walk directly behind Caleb. I still do.

Those were nights that Lochlan was still at the garage, stupid nights with stupid part-time jobs that left-me in the half-assed care of the others, who tended to pass me off on each other and sometimes take me home early, and sixteen-year-old Lochlan would lock up the garage and go track everyone down, unable to find me and showing up at my window at midnight, and I would sneak out the front door and sit on the steps talking to him until the sun came up. He told me about his plans to go on the road with the carnival while I watched the edges of the trees for Jason and he would repeatedly ask what I was afraid of. Sheepishly I finally told Lochlan, and he pointed out as long as he was around, nothing bad would ever happen to me.

That promise has held ever since. Now I just need to figure out how to glue myself to him and then I think I'll be all set. The minute I'm out of his sight everything falls apart.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Noes! Noes!

In other news, the NHL has begun the lockout.

What in the hell are we going to do with all this free time? Oh right, we'll watch the minor leagues for a bit and keep our fingers crossed that it all ends quickly because life without hockey is just..meh.

Good intention, incredibly poor execution.

Those loved have long since gone
I barged into his condo at eightish this morning. I didn't bring breakfast or plan on staying, I just unlocked the door, walked down the hall and entered his room, flipping on banks of light as I went. He rolled over and squinted and broke his handsome face in half with a frown before repairing it into pleasant, although surprised, delight.

Bridget. Did I miss a date?

You didn't go away-away, did you? You just stopped speaking directly to me and have continued to work with Ben?

Did you talk to Ben? Batman sits up and reaches for his pajama bottoms. He swings his legs out and slides them on, standing up. The pants slip down low over his hips and I am immune suddenly. This is good.

I'm talking to you.

He rakes his hand through his hair and smiles in the most cynical, bitter way. Are you really naive enough to think that you could tell me to go away and I just...would?

I don't th-

Right, you don't think. You just act impulsively depending on the day and we run around behind the scenes keeping you safe. Jesus. I completely understand Lochlan when he points out that you, my dear, are a full-time job.

I asked you to stop. I'm not your burden.

I can't walk away from this in good conscience.

I'm not your mess to clean up. Feel free to go if I'm so much work. I let you off the hook. I told you to leave. Don't act so noble.

And leave you to be eaten by the wolves? What kind of man does that?
He stops and looks at the sky briefly. Oh, right. Jacob did that, didn't he?

I slap him.

Go, Bridget. Leave. Right now.

(Today's encounter is brought to you by my cosmic ability to repeat history. Note the reminder I am not someone's problem followed by a good hard slap. YEESH.)

Friday, 14 September 2012

I'll just catalog all of this in ten-minute increments until the end of time. Okay, I won't but still. That's what this feels like lately.

Looking for ways just to rationalize madness
What was I so mad about
All of the things that I've always avoided
Constantly keep coming out

So please teach me to breathe
Remind me how, I can't remember
Please read me the theme
You've lost the plot, the story's dismembered

Now I'd kinda like to go for a walk
Talk with myself and work it out
'Cause if I'd only just remembered to breathe
I'd understand what you see

So please teach me to breathe
Remind me how, I can't remember
Please read me the theme
You've lost the plot, the story's dismembered
You know how I feel about putting you in front of a firing squad, peanut. He actually does not like the group meetings, brainstorming sessions or anything involving a public dismantling of his favorite little line-walker/-drawer/-crosser. Nope, he would prefer to keep me squirreled away in the camper, never to see the light of day, forced to subsist on pilfered vitamin D supplements and lavish descriptions of the weather I can only view through the tiny rusted-stuck window. Hungry. Always so hungry and miserable and so stubborn besides.

It would have been nice if you would have shown your pretty face nonetheless. To back me up, Locket.

How do you know I don't side with them?
He scolds but he is smiling, almost.

You just reminded me. I am drawing on a sketchbook cradled in my lap, eraser balanced on one knee, tortillon clenched between my teeth. He looks up and frowns when he sees this. If it gets wet it doesn't work and only makes a mess but I have run out of hands and I don't want to put it down on the sand.

If I am so afraid and awful and continue to drop the ball, as it were, according to your written thoughts, then how come wherever I go, you follow soon after, and you sit within a few feet of me and remain there until I move? You tell me what that's all about and I'll remind you to think of the reasons why I do or don't do something before you eviscerate me with your words in front of the world. Oh, and for the record, you've skipped a very important upcoming date that lies before the anniversary of Jake.

I didn't skip it, I don't have to work through it. It is a happy one.

Is it?

Of course it is.
I look up with an irritated expression and the tortillon falls to the sand anyway. He walks over and fetches it for me, holding it out. I don't take it, I just sit there squinting up at him.

Is it...happy...for you?

Of course it is, Bridget. I wouldn't have it any other way.

No one takes it seriously.

I do. Do you?

Yes, Loch.

Burning building?

Don't do that.

You use it to illustrate your point all the time.

That's different! I'm dramatic and impulsive and broken.

And I'm not?

Well, you're-
and I stopped. Yes, you're dramatic and impulsive and broken.

Two peas in a pod.

Actually a B and an L.

That's not what I said-

I know. But I like it better.

Oh. I get it. Ben says "two bees in a pod", doesn't he?


I knew that. You'd save him, wouldn't you?

Only if he couldn't save himself already, Lochlan. That's where you come in. I'd need some help there.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A bullet had found him
His blood ran as he cried
No money could save him
So he laid down and he died

Ooooh, what a lucky man he was
Ooooh, what a lucky man he was
He was so close I couldn't help myself. The rain pounded down on the glass of the skylights and I reached out to trace his face. When I made it to his top lip with my index finger he opened his mouth slightly, lifting his head until my finger slid onto his tongue. The look on his face would have made anyone burst into flames but I kept my cool in case I needed it later. I met his eyes and withdrew my hand, watching as his eyes glittered with anticipation.

He had as much self control as I didn't however. Gripping his phone tightly in his hands, he asked me to take a seat. I pulled out a stool from under the counter at the island and sat down, watching him remake his composure from scratch as he walked around the room flipping on lights to push the dark back.

It rained heavily that day, and we all opted for cozy, darkened rooms, low conversation and more fall-like activities. He hit the button on the wall, making the flames in the fireplace jump to life. Then he turned it off, seeing how instantly mesmerized I became.

He came back over to me, throwing down the folder. The one with my name on it. The one that gets thicker each week, with notes added in as he thinks he dissects the methods used to win me over. I'm so tired of this. I have headaches now too. Everyone and then some have told him to stop, just to leave me be, after he promised he would be honest and he confirms that honesty is still paramount, now he's just working out in the open instead of behind the scenes.

He tapped it with two fingers, relaxing slightly, watching me. We are two feet apart. I could smell the scent of soap and fragrance on his skin and I could see the morning shadow on his face because he did not bother to shave. He didn't comb his hair either, tousled and wavy. He was dressed somewhat comfortably in a waffle-knit long sleeved t-shirt and black chinos. Bare feet.

Please kill me, I thought to myself.

You did not get back to me on the changes I suggested.

I sat and waited, staring back at him, trying to keep my expression completely neutral. He watched me fail.

Bridget, since you won't cooperate I have no choice but to exact a little power here. This will be unfair.

Well, then. Let's not mince words. What do you mean? Power how? If you drag Henry into this-

Henry will not be dragged into this. I already gave you my word.
No, creep. You gave the lawyers your word. Because you're smarter than I think you are. He drags his hand down the lower half of his face as if he can't believe I would guess that Henry would be the catalyst that's spurring such pressure from him. That or it's the fact that we now have less than six months remaining until his self-imposed time limit.

(I know. I need this right now, don't I? Like a hole in the head. Oh wait, I asked for that too.)

What is the one thing you asked me for, Princess? The one thing you have wanted from me that I refused to acknowledge or provide?

To leave me alone?

Think harder. You've asked me several times to perform a sort of magic.

What do you want from me? You've said this is all temporary anyway, what's the point?

I make you a little magic and in exchange, you take 1983 and wipe it from your memory.

What about the rest of your...proposal?

Oh, all of that still holds. This would be a show of good faith on my part.

And I require a lobotomy in the process? Hell, if you think I'll need one before, wait until after-

Bridget. I'm dead serious.

(That's not an expression anyone is permitted to use in my vicinity. Obviously it was my cue to walk out again.)

Caleb, if you go forward with any of this you'd better run while you still can because I'll kill you myself.

Not if I kill you first.

And he smiled as if we had talked about the weather and nothing more.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

1770 days without you.

I think part of the problem was that I didn't tell anyone what wonderful awful things Satan has been saying to me lately.

Because, well, I'm not sure what to do with it, exactly.

And now Ben is sticking close and he called a Headcase Meeting, only he called it lunch, and we sat out on the patio in the breeze, drinking champagne and orange juice (he didn't, he had just plain juice, as did PJ, Batman, Sam and August because recovery is a bitch for some and it was only noon on a weekday and whatever, fine, yes, I drank alone) and eating roast beef sandwiches and provolone on pumpernickel bread and talking about a bunch of unrelated things and then I suddenly clued in that Ben specifically invited only my most devoted handlers and casual therapists to study me intently while I sat there and cracked jokes and deferred anything I didn't want to talk about, mainly the fact that BOOM, the wind picks up and the leaves begin to turn and Halloween merch hits the shops and suddenly I'm staring down another anniversary I wish I didn't have to remember at all.

This year it will be five whole years. Five years is a sort of milestone, only I still don't know which end is up and Jesus, look at all this help around the table.

Sam wanted to know what Caleb had said to me to make me suddenly hopeful again. Because you know when there's no closure, no actual viewing and no touching of cold, unresponsive skin then you may as well be on vacation or something, due to walk back through the door any second now.

And yet, I still don't want to talk about Caleb's caveats and his power and the things he could do, if only I say the word that puts the mechanism into action, clicking into place and traveling through time, five years back to pick up where I left off.

That's hope for you. That's faith. There's your God right there.

There's your fucking prayers answered all over my goddamned face, drawn like a map of the human heart because I am so transparent Ben could see through me before I even gave him that trite answer in the living room and he kicked into gear so fast I never saw it coming but if you knew Ben, hell, if you knew any of them, they'll only give me so much latitude and then they'll come out to the edge of the world and call me back home.

And I'll sit just on the other side of the fence where I can see the ocean and pretend I can't hear them at all.

You want me, come and get me.

Ben is well and prepared to take me up on my threats. I have finally met my match. I never thought it would be Ben. Out of absolutely everyone I did not think he would be the one to step into this.

So lunch it is, and I played dumb and they played smart and I lost every hand, obviously and PJ wants daily control again, August would like to see some meds put into play and Sam would prefer a full old-fashioned lobotomy. Batman wants back in. All of their requests met with a resounding No, there will be better days! I pleaded, as if it was me who fell in the hole, instead of giving credit to Caleb, who pushed me into the hole and then starting shoveling dirt in on top of my head.

Ben just wishes all the ghosts would go away now and give him half a chance and Loch never came around at all because I guess the bravery wasn't on the night table when he woke up because I had already eaten it and boy, lunch was only two hours ago and I'm hungry all over again but I never want to sit at the table again, having my heart torn apart when I refuse to discuss things that are clearly making me crazy, not because I don't want to discuss them, but because I can't.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Tucker finally wakes up and other tales from grocery shopping.

One thing that drives me crazy is people standing too close to me in public spaces. I could feel eyes on me, and someone making a concentrated effort to stand nearby in the grocery aisle. I preferred to remain in my own little world, the intrusion unwelcome, forcing me to pull out of my reverie in order to monitor the activity around me a little more carefully. Sort of like when you turn the music off on a long run when someone begins to run just back from you. The earphones stay in, but the music goes away in order to be aware.

It's not until I am standing at the wall of men's razorblades, trying to get everything on my half of the list and why the hell am I buying these when no one ever shaves anyway? that I smell the familiar scent of Light Blue and I know it's the Devil. I turn and ask him which razorblades he buys now and he reminds me he is still using the straight razor.

Oh yes, I'm sure in the throes of something or other I remember it being held to my throat but for now I pretend I didn't hear him and turn to finish my shopping and get the hell out of this store where no one blinks at paying $9.99 for Artisan baked bread that was stale yesterday and today should be on sale but isn't, and whoever chokes it back dry will remark on how rustic and wholesome it is while I sit in the corner eating a sandwich made with Wonderbread, full of enough preservatives to keep it fresh until I'm back in diapers.

But he follows me. Nightmares last night, Bridget?

People are staring.

Always, I shoot back over my shoulder. Especially if I've spent time with you beforehand.

He scowls and rushes to keep up with me. I put mustard in the cart. Then Tabasco sauce. I thought I was quite benign the other day, Bridget.

Raisin Bran. No, actually you weren't. You start out steadily then pick up speed as you go downhill. I stare pointedly at him over a container of coffee. You poked me full of holes and then stood back and watched me bleed out. You weren't harmless. It's almost worse that way.

He looks spooked and chagrined that I would even recognize his methods of weakening my will. As if we need to do that sort of thing with words.

I put a box of tea in the cart and then take it out, trading it for a different one. I am losing my cool quickly now. I just want to finish and get away from his words for once when he reaches out and stops me. I flinch and drop the tea on the floor and everyone turns to stare at us once anew. I rip my arm back in close. Leave me alone!

A familiar hand slides around my neck from behind and I exhale shakily. Ben reaches around me, tossing some paper and string flesh-presents into the cart. (Meat Christmas! he always says when he's been to the butcher. Have you been a good little carnivore, Bridget? He'll say and I'll laugh til I snort water out my nose.)

What were you going to say that you couldn't wait and tell her at home? Ben is waiting for an actual answer this morning. Ben's on the warpath. Ben has just about had enough and oh, boy, they're all in for a big surprise now.

To his credit Caleb changes the subject. I was going to tell her she could leave me a list and I could have the groceries delivered. I usually do that for myself and if it would make things easier for everyone we could pool our resources and have one big delivery each week.

We'll think about it.
Ben smashes a kiss against the side of my head so hard I almost fall over but I'm holding on to the cart, and he releases my neck and takes over steering. We finished? I nod and he heads for the checkouts. People politely pretended they aren't watching every move we make and I duck my head and follow him quickly, leaving Caleb standing in the breakfast aisle.

Caleb said my name once before I was too far away to hear him and I stopped moving just long enough for Ben to let go of the cart and have to come back and grab me and then I was put in the truck and we were gone.

Monday, 10 September 2012

I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song,
I just can't remember who to send it to.
When my lungs burned, I surfaced.

I swim hard against the current. The waves want to pull me back out, the water rolling swiftly west, out to sea. I keep fighting it. I kick so hard my thighs begin to ache and then suddenly I touch bottom with the tips of my toes.

It's always just as I'm about to give up that I realize I'm close enough to make it.

As the water level uncovers more of me my skin begins to itch and blister. I look down at my arms and legs and see ashes smeared over my skin, hot embers leaving angry red welts on my flesh, Cole's words burned into my limbs stating his rules.

You can't cover this. Clothing won't hide it, nor will a stiff upper lip.

My hair begins to smoke in spite of the fact that it is dripping, loaded with salt and seaweed. I turn back, looking far out where the whitecaps begin in the wind and I can see the layer of memories bouyant on the surface, a charred remorse ready to drown us all.

This was why I floated so easily. This is how I got so far.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Altar Egos.

On the mantel in the living room rests a huge set of photographs in frames, the big porcelain urn which holds Butterfield the Dog and the tiny copper box with the enamel bluebird on top which holds a tiny bit of Jake. (Cole is not here-here. His ashes are in the Atlantic.)

Every morning I go and greet them, the photographs and ashes and I touch my fingers to my lips and then I touch them lightly along all of the pictures and the box and the urn too and sometimes it takes longer and sometimes it's very fast and never do I have company until this morning when Ben stood silently in the archway leading into the living room watching me as I went about my ritual, only I didn't realize it was a ritual until I turned around and saw him and he asked what I was doing and then I realized I do it every single morning the moment I come downstairs dressed and ready for my day.

Nothing, I say.

That is not nothing.
He walks into the room and surveys the mantle. He puts two and two together and makes eight. He looks down at me.

You've made an altar.

Jake doesn't believe in those.

Jake is gone, Bridget.

Not necessarily.
I am cross and not ready for the third degree or any sort of discussion about what I know and what I think and what I've been told.

But Ben is smarter than your average bear and he grinds the whole discussion to a halt and changes direction just enough so that I am instantly lost and depending on him to find the way back for both of us, breadcrumbs dropped along the path that we will later follow home.

You know what's missing? Music. Your ritual should include one of his favorite songs.

I turn around and realize the crumbs are gone, eaten by the birds. Night has fallen and now we'll never get back.

I'm not permitted to listen to songs that remind me of Jake. I tell him this woodenly as if he's never heard this before. Ben does not believe in this. Jake taught me this when Cole died. That sometimes you put the songs that remind you of someone away and then you bring them back out when you are stronger.

Sure you are. You know this, bee. It doesn't make it worse. Maybe it might help.

It might hurt, too.

Yeah, it might hurt.

Then what?

What do you mean?

What happens when it hurts?

I'll hold on to you.


So you want to try it?

No, not now.

Maybe later? Or tomorrow morning?

My words are shaped like apologies but they bounce off Ben like coins. He won't be offended by my inability to be polite.

What did you mean by 'not necessarily?' Did Caleb say something to you?

Did he say something to you?

No, I haven't talked to him in a couple days. But if he's playing games again, I'll go talk to him now.

But right now the only thing I want is for Ben to stay put and so I pick up his hand. It's huge and warm and smooth and he has callouses on the pads of his fingers from playing and his nails are stained with blackberry juice from picking berries with me for jam and I kiss the back of his hand and ask him to have some breakfast with me. He slides his arm around my ribcage, pulling me close and asking me what I want for breakfast.

Cake, if we have any left.
There were five birthday cakes paraded through the house in the past week and a half. FIVE. If heaven exists, the menu just says cake. Guaranteed.

We can bring our cake back and leave some as offering to the memory of the great Zero the Hero, if you want.

Don't be an asshole, Ben.

Yes, ma'am. Sorry ma'am.
He bursts out laughing. I can't help it. I remember a cake story you told me once.

You only remember the dirty stories don't you?

Hell, yes. Those are the best ones.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

33 1/2 rpm (with a big scratch down the middle.)

Yesterday was long and ended badly, starting with when I returned to the house to get my phone and Lochlan gave me a warning about going to Caleb's house, using both names, not just Bridge or Bridgie or even Peanut. No, he hauled out the whole Bridget Rebekah with ALL FOUR last names after it for full effect, beginning with my maiden name, then Cole's, Jake's and Ben's last names.


Made me wonder how many times he has said my name with his last name tacked on the end, just to see how it feels. He'll tell you none, thanks. I admit to doing it almost weekly. It doesn't fit and I can't say it without a bad Scottish accent anyway. It's a hell of a last name and so far mine have all been short and cute and seven letters or less.


But oh yeah. What a pain.

I think he wanted me to stop and listen and put down my things and maybe tuck in bedside him for the duration of the morning, maybe even fall back to sleep and dream about fairs and rides and seventeen ways to be content with the small comforts of a simple life (Oh trust me, we've got a hard list) but I shook my head and walked out the door, with my reassuring expression firmly fixed. Glad to have that expression since it totally masks the fear.

But Caleb wasn't being all that evil. The headaches are ruining him slowly but they are working to adjust his medications so that maybe they will soon bother him less. He had cheques ready for Henry's school supplies and for clothing for both children and then he wanted to know if I had an answer for his proposal and he added some things. Caveats, bait. I don't know. I got up and left halfway through his spiel because I no longer wanted to listen.

When I returned to the house, Lochlan looked at the cheques and immediately took offense to the fact that his sworn enemy is providing his daughter's wardrobe expenses. I told him to stuff it. I had a headache by then too. He was about to escalate the argument when PJ shot a warning word across the counter, following it with an offer to make me some tea and fetch some aspirin.

I declined everything. I threw up my hands and turned and left the kitchen, leaving them all speechless and wondering. I didn't care. I said I had a headache and I said I didn't want to argue today and no one listens to me anyway.

Friday, 7 September 2012

I can see the patterns on your face
I can see the miracles I trace
Symmetry in shadows I can't hide
I just want to be right by your side

I will give you everything to
Say you want to stay, you want me too
Say you'll never die, you'll always haunt me
I want to know I belong to you
I was so surprised to see him I must have jumped forty feet. An amusing sight for Gage and Chris, who were standing out on the patio watching the activities in the driveway while they sipped the coffee I made for Ben but Ben left early again and will probably make awful coffee at the studio while he works, not even noticing that it's full of grounds and tasteless and limp. Chris said their coffeemaker blew up and I pointed out that's what happens when you buy obscurely-branded, fancy all-in-one machines and he shrugged and pointed out how much of a ass Schuyler is before he has his espresso in the mornings and how much Daniel suffers as a result.

I opened my mouth in alarm and Christian said he was kidding, that Daniel doesn't suffer, Daniel just keeps his head down until Schuyler is sufficiently caffeinated.

Kind of like we do with you, Princess. He laughs but my face doesn't change and his mirth dies away quickly. I pour the boys their coffee and herd the kids outside. They walk to school now. Different schools. Alone with their friends if they can grab them en route but otherwise the days of watching so closely over them have passed. Henry is gigantic and confident and cynical, grade six now. A big kid on campus. Ruth is still thin and delicate, in grade eight, terrified of grade twelve boys for some reason but loving the independence, the pop machines, and the newness of it all.

Okay, good, so she clearly doesn't take after her mother.

So back to the driveway, where Caleb is waiting by the pond to see the children off. Lochlan said goodbye already, from his pajamas and good coffee and tabs of infinite reading. He's a slow-riser these days.

Caleb, on the other hand is shaved and dressed in a suit and looks incredibly well-rested for someone who has been so low the past couple of weeks. The few times I dared to text him he shot back that he was fine and didn't want to be disturbed. I think he wanted me to feel stung, but I just felt glad he answered so that I didn't have to appoint someone to go to hell to check on the Devil himself. They hate doing that. I hate having to do that.

But you know, I still lean over just about everyone in the dark of night to make sure they are still breathing. That includes both cats and the dog. I can't help it.

Caleb hugs both children and then we watch silently together as they hike up to the top of the road before disappearing from view. I hate this part. There are crosswalks and cars and the Regulators too. There are bears and grade twelve boys and bullies and nuclear bombs and earthquakes and swarms of killer bees. Tsunamis and hurt feelings and broken cookies and salsa that leaked out of the containers in their lunches and fear of fear itself.

But there is also life to be lived and that is the part I focus on, blurring out the rest in a tilt-shift emotional landscape where I draw a narrow band of focus and try to ignore everything else.

He turns after they leave and asks me if I want to join him this morning for an impromptu meeting to go over just a few things. A hour of my time, tops.

That's probably not a good idea, I scowl. I haven't had enough coffee yet. Maybe Christian is right after all.

I can make coffee. The Devil slips.

I weigh the odds and come up light. Fine, just let me go grab my mug and my phone and tell Loch where I will be.

His lips tighten but he says nothing, and turns to head back to the boathouse to start the coffeemaker. Wow, that sounds like it must be a pull-start or choke-and-flood (snort) sort of thing but really he is very meticulous since I taught him how I make such good coffee, a quick learner when it comes to such pedestrian things as small appliances.

He turns back at the bottom of the steps. Tell me again who the Regulators are?

I wish he would admit to reading my mind. Just once.

He smiles. If I did that you would be afraid of me again, so it's better if I let sleeping dogs lie.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Neat bows on messy gifts.

If I make a sound
Will you stop everything, I'm innocent
When I'm not around
Would you cover your eyes and imagine?

Can you hear it
Can you see it
Falling, falling to the ground
He wants me to tell you that was a fluke.

He's right, sort of and this is not to say that I'm now going to travel down a road that sees the fairest one of all tarnished by the darkness of my memories. No, this is just to illustrate how Perfect is relative, and how those who seem the most together are sometimes the most apart.

That was the only time and place in which I saw that darkness from Lochlan. Whatever it was, it vanished from him once we took up speaking to each other again. He wants me to point out that his engagement happened in 2006, which was almost a full DECADE after I left him sleeping in the fleabag room we rented and came home early.

The years in between saw me boomeranging back to Cole long after Lochlan's birthday, thrilled with the summer away, the better shows we found abroad, the indelible memories we made swirling my thoughts like the wind in my hair at the top of the largest Ferris wheels on earth.

We slept beside our bicycles in the grass. We ate goat cheese and bread in the sun. We busked illegally and skirted fines with charm and we made pennies on the foreign dollar, coming home with little to show for it. So much so that upon our (final) return, Lochlan went back to school at the urging of the others and now makes predictable money, something that's especially important when you're forty-seven years old (FUCK. REALLY?) and can't spend the same amount of time in the sun that you used to in a culture where people want to be entertained only up until the moment where they are supposed to pay for it and then they drift away as if they were never really there.

(I can confirm this first-hand, after putting a twenty dollar bill in the hat of another fire-thrower two summers ago because he was totally fucking entertaining and the look on his face told me everything I've ever needed to know about how much the world has changed. I don't give money out freely, for the record. Don't ask me for change. Don't hold a sign on the corner. Dance for me. Sing me a tune. Juggle some glass bottles or something that's on fire and I'll empty my purse into your pockets and smile as I turn to leave.)

But oh, was he ever mad at me yesterday. And I told him fine, if I can't get it right then walk away and no one will blame you. He would not reply to this and we remained at a stalemate for hours and I was dreading dinner. How do you cook someone's favorite dinner when you're arguing with them? Do you burn it? Poison it? Tell them to cook it themselves?

Well, no, because all of those options are kneejerkish and silly. I cooked and I tried to get it perfect. I'm not good with Scottish food but I tried and he appreciated that and lied and said it tasted perfect. Only he doesn't say perfect, he says pehrr-fikt but you have to listen carefully or you'll miss the roll and tsk. He smiled and blew out the candles we lit, after opting to not try and jam forty-seven of them on the cake. Remember when I almost burned the castle down by lighting all forty candles on a cake for Cole? Yeah. I don't forget as much as I say I do.

And Ben told me to cut him some slack and I pointed out Lochlan hasn't exactly measured any out for me in weeks and what a weird summer it has been and Ben asked if it was the strangest one on record and I laughed and said Hell, no. Ben just stood there smiling, waiting for me to clue in and then I rolled my eyes and asked him why he was helping Lochlan strip my loyalties from Ben like old wallpaper.

And Ben glossed like he always glosses. God bless my Ben. Sometimes I wonder about him.

And we sang Happy Birthday to Lochlan and toasted him well and wished him our fondest wishes and made our speeches while he sat there and tried to absorb the outpouring of love, the way we all have, a good and usually failed effort at holding one's composure and dropping it as one by one, we stand and say some wonderful things and I could see he was doing okay so far, he had hooked a finger through a loop of control. Then I stood up and instead of a speech I made an apology and I tried to look everywhere but directly at him but boy, is that hard when a glassy pair of eyes is staring right through the place where your soul is supposed to go but he accepted my apology gracefully. I sang happy birthday to him by myself, a capella, and if you know me I'll never do that because I can't hear my own voice and it comes out so strangely in my head I will only sing along if I feel really brave or the music is already too loud to make a difference.

No one clapped but there wasn't a dry eye in the house either.

And then upstairs in the hallway, one minute before his birthday was over, he found me and pressed me up against the wall, bringing both his hands up to my face, kissing me like he meant it. He kissed me like he was really glad I didn't burn his food. He kissed me like he had a good birthday after all, and he kissed me like he never doubted for a second where my loyalties lie, even though I have told him precisely where they are every time he asks and he always says that's not important anyway, what's important is that we are here now, safe and sound.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal.

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily,
joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
clinical, intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the world's asleep,
the questions run too deep
for such a simple man.
Won't you please, please tell me what we've learned
I know it sounds absurd
but please tell me who I am.*
Our time in the circus didn't end well. It didn't end at all, actually, at least not with any measure of closure. I bounced back and forth between the high wires and the freakshow out back, Lochlan kept true to his craft, throwing fire, taking a straightforward routine and turning it into something positively magical there. He bloomed. He was positively riveting and I realized that the years on the carnival had made him complacent and content. Now he was hungry, attention-starved, always seeking limelight as a source of nourishment, always trying to find ways to be different.

He changed.

Looking back he didn't change all that much, those facets of his personality always bubbling on a slow boil just beneath his surface but at the time it seemed as if Lochlan had gone away and been replaced with a virtual stranger, someone slightly darker than Lochlan, who seemed to be under a dark cloud. His hair was darker, his eyes darker, his mood? Darker. He listened to strange music, and told jokes with no punchlines. He ceased to care if we ate or got paid.

For the first time in my life, it wasn't pretty. He wasn't pretty. He made himself ugly on purpose and he became a caricature. I packed my meager things and I called Caleb from a payphone on the boardwalk one morning at 5 a.m. and asked him to wire me some money so I could come home. I asked him not to tell Cole, that I would pay him back any way I could.

And he laughed and asked me to put Pyro on the phone and I stalled and hummed and hawed and then I cried.

And Lochlan, to his credit for stabbing him in the back, didn't talk to me until almost Christmas that year.

( *Look, a footnote! No, seriously. Loch asked me not to write about his birthday and so this is what I wrote instead. Because people always ask why he moved to Toronto and got engaged when I went home and hung up my tights and started being a Regular Human Being again. That was why, okay? That was why.

I'll write about his birthday tomorrow. No worries. If I listened to any of them I wouldn't have a blog at all, now, would I?)

Monday, 3 September 2012

I gathered my hair up into a teeny-tiny curly ponytail this morning and it has held all day, without big sections falling out or the whole thing coming undone quickly.

Take that, Devil-man.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Notes from the blast radius.

(We had moments, you know.)

I am waiting patiently as Jacob finishes getting ready for the late service. Sunday evening. The stragglers, the waners, the devout. He has decided to shave in a hurry after a day feeling too scruffy, and then a button popped off his collar and he refused to let me sew it on for him while he finished doing everything else, and now he sits perched on the edge of the bed, a needle and thread in his nimble fingers struggling to make sure the button is perfectly straight. I watch from my vantage point near the window, my shoes uncomfortable strappy six-inch stilettos and a coral-colored brushed satin swing dress with the most delicate lace overlay you've ever seen. I'm afraid to even breathe in this dress, it's so fragile, so I only wear to evening service and even then, not so often since it's gotten cold outside. Jacob loves this dress. He calls me Pumpkin when I wear it.

I think that's what I'm going to do now.

What's that?

I'm going to become a pumpkin farmer.

The grin spreads across his face as his eyes light up. A pumpkin farmer, hey? Let's talk about this. What are you going to do if there's a deluge?

I will give each of my pumpkin plants a tiny little umbrella so that once they have had enough rain, they can put them up and dry off.

What if there's a drought?

I will give them water guns so they can play AND stay hydrated.

He's trying so hard not to laugh. But, Bridget, what happens when all that love and attention results in pumpkins that are too big for you to lift at harvest?

Then I will turn the whole farm into a tourist attraction and also advocate for Macro Halloween, where everything is bigger, including the chocolate bars. Everyone wins, Pooh. This can't fail.

Where are you going to do this?

The backyard.

I see. What are you going to do for supplies?

Jesus, Jacob, did you even SEE the amount of seeds we scraped out of that pumpkin this morning? I think that will be lots. We're halfway there already.