The ultimatums began shortly after school started in the fall.
Wear your hearing aids, Bridget.
No. Not to be rude, but I really don't like them. They amplify my heartbeat, your fingerprints and the guy fifteen blocks down swearing under his breath at a broken photocopier. I can hear people's ideas, regrets and deepest longings when I wear them. I hear grass grow. I hear the stars clinking off, one by one by two.
They're exhausting. They're startling. They're just plain stupid. They cost two thousand dollars apiece and they're worthless hunks of utter shit. They've been adjusted, changed, swapped out, serviced, and tested.
But it's not them, it's me.
So I haven't really worn them much past the six week window I promised the boys earlier this year. I wore them all the time and at the end of forty-five days I slid my back down the wall in the corner with a big bottle of vodka in my hands, my nerves shattered to bits and I swore to myself I would never wear them again. I've learned to deal with what is missing in other ways. I feel. I see. I taste. But mostly I just feel, as you well know already.
And now I fill my ears with so much music that enough might get through so that I am okay with it all. It's not that hard to cope when you've been doing it this long, so no sympathy is required. It's very matter-of-fact to me and as long as everyone doesn't talk at once I'm okay with that.
Except that a couple weeks ago I was driving Lochlan's truck and I missed a siren, not knowing there was an ambulance there until the last possible moment. I got out of the way but I like a little more notice than that. I owned up to it, when asked how my day went. I promised to turn the music down when I drive alone. I promised to pay better attention/get more sleep/be careful but this day was sort of very long in the making, especially here, where every trip is a dark rainy night on a high-speed highway, and that's just to buy milk.
But instead of revoking my driving privileges, this morning I was given a present of sorts.
Caleb's driver, Mike. On call for me now as his primary charge.
Because Caleb likes to be independent here, driving himself virtually everywhere. Mike is on retainer and bored out of his skull. Caleb wants him to have work to do and everyone wants me to be safe and not constantly stressing over driving and hearing or the lack thereof.
And privately I was pulled aside and told I would have to get over whatever creepy stalkerish impressions I have had of Mike up until now, that he is a consummate professional who is just doing his job. That job at one point being spying on me at close range for the Devil who used to be so terribly misguided and now is just simply terrible and misguided and I am no longer spied upon, though I fully understand the ramifications of enlisting someone who reports to Satan himself.
I am not permitted to use the word goonage anymore either, Caleb told me.
I guess I simply bring out the visceral side in everyone, my mere presence being enough for them to somehow feel safe enough to unload all of their deepest darkest secrets, fears and wants on me. To do things they wouldn't normally do and say things they wouldn't dream of saying to anyone else. I'm not sure why that happens but it does, and I'd like to turn it off.
Maybe in a few years time Mike can listen to music on my behalf and tell me I really liked that song, or something.
In the interim, I have a number I call when I want to go out and Mike will be idling out front in fifteen minutes or less to take me wherever I want, and that goes for taking the children to school or running errands for me. As in, I don't have to do it, he will do it for me. I was assured it's part of the job, that he is already paid handsomely and enjoys his job, there just hasn't been enough for him to do since we moved here. Caleb hopes that will change, that this will be helpful to me and better for Mike.
Helpful doesn't begin to cover what it is. It's positively decadent, something reserved for film and music stars and people..well, people like Caleb. People who are important.
Not me. I'm not important. I'm just a girl from a town so small there wasn't even a wrong side of the tracks because there were no tracks. Just ocean, as far as the eye could see. That girl never thought she'd see the day where she had a permanent driver assigned to her. I'm not sure where I should go first but I'm guessing it should be somewhere pretty significant.