I can see the patterns on your faceI 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 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 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.