Thursday, 31 January 2013


Today Daniel ventured a fun suggestion of having a lunch picnic on the roof in full Victorian costume.

I was all for it but then I was shot down because the rain is ceaseless and they didn't want me up there tripping around in a full-length velvet dress. Or Daniel with the top hat that works its way down over his eyes half the time, making him look drunk when he walks, because he can't see. Schuyler also took offence to the potential destruction of their wedding clothes in the process and that begat a huge endeavor to endear them all to the nuances of the Wreck the Dress movement and we forgot about making a trip to the roof.

(My wedding dresses are safe in the closet so that Ruth can either choose one when she gets married or eschew all of them and then I will wreck them with gusto. I just wanted to leave her some options first. So of course I'm a fan of WTD. Who wouldn't be?)

Lochlan refused to let me go to work today. He says no work-from-home mogul on earth needs an assistant present ten hours out of every day unless they are lonely. Then he said he was hungry. Then he started in on me for writing too close to the memories, shaving little pieces off, letting in too much light, stripping back layers he worked so hard to build up.

Jesus. Loch and his litanies. I tell you. He followed me around for half an hour. I had zoned right out, making lunch, gathering the other boys for food, etc. until he got to the part about being on the run.

What if we are? I asked, my eyes very wide, while chewing a bite of a ham sandwich as I sit, warm and dry, inside my kitchen instead of up on the roof.

Then I should have probably changed our names by now, for starters. He was very serious indeed.

Maybe we're hiding in plain sight! Doesn't that work best, anyway? Right under their noses?

Who's noses?

Umm...I don't know. The bad guys! 

What if we're the bad guys, Bridget?

Then we can pack heat, right?

What? No! Jesus. We're in enough trouble as it is. No killing. Now hurry up and eat. We have to get out of here.
He winks and takes a bite of his own sandwich. I don't budge. It's always far more fascinating when I can convince him to play along.

Daniel finishes faster than anyone. Can I come too?

Depends. What did you do? Lochlan asks him.

Um...I wore a coat yesterday that I shouldn't have. I was in a rush and I couldn't find my wool blazer...

And how is that bad? Lochlan is completely flummoxed.

Daniel rolls his eyes and sighs.  It was a light wool and I should have worn winter-weight.

Lochlan nods, eyes wide suddenly, matching mine, for I had stopped eating. It's not often Daniel goes full-on fashion diva and I can never really tell if he's joking or not. We look at each other and nod and Lochlan looks back at Daniel.

You're in. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Coffee with Matt yielded all kinds of illumination on Sam. Don't worry, I had Sam's blessing. Matt proposed, Sam turned him down and it's over. Matt's ready to settle down. He wants to be married. He wants to start a family. He doesn't want to sleep alone and have to schedule meetings to do everything from have lunch to see a movie.

Sam just got finished being settled down and isn't ready to jump in again in case it doesn't work out. He has cold feet. He's afraid.

I see both sides of things. I only wish I could knock their heads together until they saw the light. Them being together is better than them being apart but for now marriage seems to be a dealbreaker.

Matt promised he would keep in touch. He's such a beautiful liar.


I went to the dentist today. No cavities, no problems, just the usual lecture on flossing too hard and not coming in often enough. Yeah, yeah. My teeth are so smooth now though. I guess I can continue to live on marshmallow fluff and sour soothers. Doesn't seem like it's causing any problems, so far.


I worked a shortened day for Caleb in which he mostly sent links to my instant messenger showing me different lines of designer lingerie, dresses and jewelry. When the overseas real estate links started up I closed the laptop and asked him what he was doing. He shrugged and said he was just trying to get a feel for what cities we should shop in this spring when I accept his proposal.

I asked him why he thought I would accept it at all when he's already been thoroughly forewarned that I won't. He just smiled and told me stranger things have happened, that he warned me things would become difficult, and that I need to listen better.

I rolled my eyes at him when he turned away and he laughed.


I was turned to face the wall in the shower, Lochlan's fingers up over my mouth, his head pressed against mine.  I bit against the palm of his hand as my knees buckled and I gasped for air. We ran out of hot water, time and energy. We went in circles. We went to sleep sated in the dark, cleansed of our sins and queued for the next round.

As I slept I dreamed we stood in the cornfield again in the broiling summer heat making sure the hole was deep enough and I felt so ashamed but it wasn't my fault.

He woke me, telling me I was talking in my sleep. When I sat up in the dark I wondered if anyone had ever found our hiding place. That maybe we should go back and dig it up so that we tie up all of our loose ends. He shook his head, pressing it against mine in the dark, telling me Shhhh, everything is okay now.

I lay back down but didn't sleep, staring up into the darkness as it rested just out of reach and I wondered if we can't go back because it's pointless or because he's too afraid or if I've made a nightmare out of something that was only meant to be a dream.

I wondered why he never truly settles down. After all, you wouldn't tell a child you are going to take her with you and live a life on the run. She might inadvertently give you away.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Samwise redux.

I would have liked a little slack for being down four (five if you count PJ) boys this week. My nerves are sprung and grated and my heart is soft and ruined but you know, PJ isn't going to give me any. Instead he gave me a whole lot of grief and said that maybe she (the new girlfriend that he has known for six weeks) was right, but then he refused to tell me what she was right about, save for the fact that maybe it's time for him to move on.

It is? This is news to me. 

It was enough for me to put down my gloves and stop the fight so I could hear him out but he didn't want to talk to me and he didn't want to talk to Sam so he left, slamming the door as he went out. Telling me to tell the children he will see them later. He doesn't need to be here when they get home since I am home today. Another headache has the Devil sleeping today to try and shake it before it becomes critical and so I called Sam and asked him if he would come and help me sort out my feelings, organizing them for me because I would rather just splatter them around the room today, with not a lot scheduled since I planned to be working.

Sam is pouring coffee and he turns to me after the door slams with raised eyebrows. His defensiveness is very telling. He knows something isn't right with this and his loyalties are going to snap back and scar him for life. 

I look at Sam for a long time. That's amazing. 

You said it once about Ben. 

Jesus. What I wouldn't give for a mind like a steel trap. All I have is a rusty bucket. 

But it's a fun bucket. 

Not this week, Sam. This week it's a pailful of tears. 

He held my hand as we sat and I told him everything that is wrong. Everything I'm worried about and every fear in the world that I have right down to biting into celery that's too stringy to chew and Sam sat there and listened to all of it. Sometimes I wish Ben could do that, or Loch, but then I drive them crazy with my bottomless anxiety and I know you're supposed to be able to tell people everything but when I do I just want to put it back. You're not supposed to tell anyone anything. They have their own worries and fears and expecting them to balance yours too just ruins everything.

Sam is a special case though. He can let God be the sponge and Sam will wring himself out when he is too full with my negative emotions that spill over all the time. God fills up like a bucket too, just like Bridget's brain.

He thinks everyone will be okay. He's got this faith that I won't acknowledge in myself. Jake tried so hard to help me find brighter days, silver linings and hope for a better next time but I was too busy standing at the bottom of the well, covered with mud and still digging for solid handholds to pull myself up on and still coming up short long after everyone else had left. I couldn't breathe, couldn't come up for air and couldn't hear a thing from down there. Sometimes it feels like I never left rock bottom.

But Sam assures me I am wrong as he leans down as far as he can, holding a lantern so that I can see how far I've come. It isn't far but it's something.

Distract me! I call up. Tell me something about you.

I see a strained smile cross his face. Matt proposed. 

Oh, God. Here he is listening to my misery and meanwhile he was bursting with his own news. Sam! I can't believe it! You must be so happy!

I said no, Bridget. I turned him down.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Or maybe I should just introduce her to Satan and save us all the effort.

Over toast and eggs, PJ tells me this song should be my pole-dancing soundtrack if I ever go back to that. Several months out of my life that I'm never EVER going to live down. But hey, it came in handy later on.

The song was Trigger Finger. Chimaira. PJ likes his music in audible-concrete form. The heavier the better. If you can see through it he doesn't want to hear it.

I used uh...Pour Some Sugar on Me.

I cringe at some of the things I did back then but I could only keep it quiet for those few months (which I have mentioned before so don't ever pretend to be shocked if you come here in the first place). The second that the boys found out they showed up and that was the end of that.

It wasn't for naught, though. I made enough cash in six months to almost equal around two whole nights with Caleb.

Woo, look at me go.

I went back to doing things the hard way. I wasn't given much of a choice. And in my defense, I have earned every. last. penny. he has given me. You really have no idea. He will even say it's not enough but I don't want any of it. It just sits there. I'm lousy at sugar-babying, I've been told. Good. I'll own it but I don't feel it.

Anyway, PJ is just smarting because he finally introduced me to his girlfriend (NOT FOR LONG) and I didn't have gushingly-wonderful things to say about her. Here's the part where I point out it's not jealousy. I love PJ. I adore PJ. Half the time I'll side with PJ to everyone else's wrath. He's my Tweedle-dee.

But I would cut him loose before a heartbeat was up if I thought he had a shot at getting out from under the collective and having a normal life.

However, it won't be with this girl.

He's so smitten he can't see what several of us saw within moments. She thinks he has money. She's pretty damn sure of herself and boy did she ever have big stars in her eyes. And I stood there and smiled graciously, playing dumb while she frowned at me, wondering precisely what my reason was for being here, while PJ made repeated references to a job he doesn't actually have and things he doesn't actually do. PJ wasn't PJ and that worries me.

PJ is not going to find a girl who loves him for himself if he can't tell the truth up front.

 And yeah, I know I'm a paragon of how to have a successful relationship and all but this is something else entirely.

So over second breakfast, instead of asking me to spell out my concerns he started taking potshots at my character in order to feel better about himself. I let him. He's scared he's going to lose her and he thinks something is better than nothing. He somehow thinks she will soon love him enough to weather the truth whenever he decides to reveal it. She's already told him she can picture them together when they're old and still in love.

Fucking gag me.

You're laying it on really thick for someone skating on what you've been told instead of what's right in front of your tall, airbrushed-to-within-an-inch-of-walking-photoshop fucking face.

Yes, WAY TOO MUCH MAKEUP. Maybe she's hiding things too. Like fear and desperation? Yeah. Let's go with those two, for now.

She also called him Patrick. Repeatedly. Which is just...well, for starters, it's NOT HIS NAME. 

God, I love PJ. Really I do. Think he can stay here and lick his wounds alone, while I take my bitchy little self over to the boathouse and work on my own game and maybe when we both cool off we'll be able to share a meal without our knives aimed for each other's hearts. I'm sorry. I get incredibly angry and defensive and mean when people mess with their hearts.

That's my job.

Sunday, 27 January 2013


She lies and says she's in love with him
Can't find a better man
She dreams in color, she dreams in red
Can't find a better man
At dinner a martini was ordered for me and I drank it. And then another and I drank that too. Then more. And I kept transferring the olives between glasses and Lochlan kept giving me terrible looks across the table. By the end of dinner I had a whole glassful of huge olives left to crunch into. I ate the first one quickly, used to the bitter bite of oily fruity goodness. This one was spicy and gin-filled and I choked on it and then swallowed it whole. I didn't think I could breathe and so I took PJ's coke and drank some while he gently thwacked me on the back. Lochlan kicked me under the table. Enough, it meant.


I left the other olives there in the glass. 


In the car on the way home I got the hiccups. Not just quiet little benign hiccups but full-body-jerking, silence-interrupting, breath-stealing, can't-finish-a-sentence type of hiccups that make it hard to function.

I sit in the truck long after everyone had gone inside, just to hold my breath many times in a row to try and get rid of the hiccups. It finally worked. I found out something else too. The truck sort of reminds me of my old pantry where I could sit on the floor for hours in the dark and reorganize my brain when things became overwhelming.

If now even an olive is overwhelming I wonder what is left to organize, exactly.


When I leave the truck I make my way to the boathouse to say goodnight and also find out if I'm supposed to work tomorrow.  Caleb turns around from where he is making tea. He invites me to join him but I refuse, saying I just want to know if I'm working. He asks if I enjoyed dinner and then asked how many martinis did I have?

I dunno. Doesn't matter, does it? I ask him, grinning and then I describe the fire-olives that were so lethal they must be ninja, hitmen, mafia olives so he should watch his back and we're all going to switch to the greasy black kalamata ones instead starting tomorrow. I tell him I still can't feel my tongue. He frowns and I blush inappropriately and say it's time for me to go. I step forward to give him a quick hug. He puts his arms out so easily. I get the hiccups again and start laughing and I give him a shove but he doesn't let go.

I look up into his eyes and hiccup again, my whole body going rigid in spasm. He smiles and says another drink will fix it but instead of saying yes like I always do I repeat no without hesitation.

If you want to come for a juice nightcap, you can, you know. No more booze though. I point toward my house and hiccup again.

Think I'll stay here. Sweet dreams, Little Hiccup.

That's not me, I'm Bridget. And I think I might be damaged. I mean drunkened. Do you think? I tap him on the chest hard.

Jesus, Bridget, go home before I keep you. He lets go suddenly, going cold. Yeah, me too.

Night, Diabhal. Don't say things like that, okay, please?

I head back across the driveway. When Caleb is desperate he sounds so much like Lochlan it's downright frightening. I walk into the heat of the house and sit down on the floor gingerly to unbuckle my high heels. Once out of the stilts I feel a little more steady. There's a bit of a jam underway in the kitchen. and I go to the doorway and watch. Lochlan drops his part and comes over.

Everything okay? I was about to come looking for you.

I nod and hiccup at him. He laughs, leaning down to give me a kiss but then yells BOO really loud in my face. I jump fifty feet but I still hiccup when I am done smacking him in the chest. Fuck it. Argh.

Then I realize I really am thoroughly and completely drunk as he lets go because I'm still warm.  He returns to his guitar, picking up the lyrics just as they get to the bridge.
She loved him, yeah
She don't want to leave this way
She feeds him, yeah
That's why she'll be back again
Can't find a better man
Can't find a better man
He grins and winks at me. Not sure why he's so happy. The words are so profoundly sad and yet here I am tapping my fingers because it's such a notable refrain. I couldn't get the olives to match the taste I remembered and now I can't get the feelings to match up with the words they accompany. I put my hands up over my eyes. I don't like nights that end like this. Maybe I just need some sleep.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

No more of your darkness.

The Fairy Boys have taken over, giving back what they are best at. Comfort.

Okay, that's not what they're best at. They're best at home decorating. Comfort ranks a close second. Daniel took me under his arm and proclaimed it was a good day for a little decadence.


Yes. Come this way.

I followed him across the lawn, up the stairs and down the hall, then down another hall until we passed through the sitting room and into Daniel and Schuyler's bedroom, with its impressively-high four-poster bed and au courant sound system. Their personal space is all rich medium-warm woods and pale cool greens, with punches of cream and black. It's the most relaxing place in the universe outside of my soaker tub, I suspect and I spend as much time there as they permit.

He pushed me down on the bed and picked up his phone. Hey, he said.

I lie there and listen in.

We have a broken heart to fix. Can you bring up provisions? I raised my eyebrows and he smiled and winked at me. He said Me too, babe and clicked the phone off, sliding it onto the bureau.

He comes back over and scoops me up, moving me to the centre of the bed and sacking out beside me. He closes his eyes. You miss him.

I do. Tears are beginning to leak out of the outside corners of my eyes and straight down to the pillow. He pulls me in close. Everyone does. I need my big brother. He's going to be back before you know and until then I am devoting myself to looking after you so that I don't see any more of those tears.

I wipe my face and give him my effortful grin and he leans back in and plants a kiss on my forehead. Just then the door opens and Schuyler walks in with a tray. The tray contains two bottles of cupcake wine and three large plates, complete with warm black forest cake. Schuyler puts the tray on the sideboard and comes to the bed, bolstering the head of it with all the pillows he can stack up. Daniel lights candles all around the room.

Then they both pile back onto the bed, bookending me in the middle, passing out plates and glasses. Daniel waits for me to take a sip of my wine and then takes the glass and puts it on the night table. I am just about to dig into the cake when he shouts WAIT! and leans away, grabbing the remote off the table. With one button push the curtains slide closed across the windows and the stereo comes on.

Oh, they're still listening to Elton John. Now, he says, and we all dive into our desserts.

When I am full and relaxed, propped up on the pillows, listening to the rest of Caribou, they lean across me and kiss.
Don't let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it's always someone else I see
I'd just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me
Boy, do I ever feel superfluous all of the sudden. I sit up and they fill in the space behind me with a deeper kiss and so I crawl to the end of the bed and over the side of the footboard, falling to the floor. I stand up and look toward the bed but no, they are still kissing.

Okay then.

Such sweethearts. I love them so much. I collect my wine glass and one of the bottles that's still half-full to take with me. I may not know how to comfort myself but I do know how to show myself the door.

Friday, 25 January 2013


I took a printout of Caleb's sundry account transactions over to the boathouse this morning to prove my responsibility in replacing the money I've been stealing. He laughed bitterly, pointing out the irony of my efforts to show him I'm a Good Human.

He said he had almost seriously contemplated killing me as I slept because I spoke ill of Cole again and that's why he had avoided me, in order to get himself back under control. In the next breath he asked me how content Lochlan must be as of late, having me all to himself, having his way paved to certain victory by virtue of circumstance and nothing more, as he had nothing to offer? It was a loaded, vitriolic insult and I chose to ignore it.

Caleb said maybe I should leave after all but when he saw that I was planning to do just that, he begged me to stay. I asked him how I was supposed to send Henry here to spend time with someone who wants to hurt his mother? He said he would never hurt me now. I choked out a sob in surprise because he's done it before. He's done just that.

Now, he corrects himself, tracing my cheek gently, I said now.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


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
Lochlan called it a moment of mellow drama and I laughed when I stopped feeling sorry for myself. He's clever with words, teaching me pretty much everything I know as I learned slowly, succinctly to the point of using words for sport now, for entertainment.

Now I get these great litanies from him, spat out hard in his delightful Scottish invisi-brogue, too impatient to work lyrical magic. And I'm not sure anything ever changes. I don't feel like I've achieved much more than an ability to shut down into nothing, duck my head and weather the storms as they hit, one after another.

He came flying out of the house during the shoot-out in overtime, boys glued to games (Canucks won and so did my Leafs, so they say), cursing me straight to hell and back for missing that, and he grabbed a hold of the ribbons on the back of my dress and hung on through the worst of it and I didn't know he was there until I leaned forward but didn't get anywhere. He puts a lot of misdirected faith in the stitching of my clothing. I'm not surprised in the least.

He also called Batman to consult because he didn't like the way things were going and he didn't quite know what to do. They didn't like Caleb's abrupt shift to not wanting to see me when half the time he seems to gain oxygen by my very presence. They didn't like Ben's refusal to talk to me and throw in Duncan, TJ and Andrew being gone and then my heading out to take up sentry position close to one absent ghost (but not the other because he showed up again unannounced this week) and a recipe for disaster is baked and then held in the oven on keep warm.

Does Lochlan ever know what to do? I don't know. He panics inwardly. He shuts down too and he's trying so hard not to do that when I already have. It must be harder than it looks keeping the lot of us contained and alive and together. He's been doing it since before I even met him. I think a lot of the time he is exhausted and under too much pressure and things slip. I just don't know why he holds so much responsibility for everyone.

What if we fended for ourselves?

Oh, right. Things get worse when that happens. See, uh...that eight year period when we all moved to the Prairies and he didn't. Well, he did for a little while toward the end of our time there.

When it began to rain last night he finally started pulling me in by my ribbons, hand over hand until he could grab hold of me. He took the headphones away and pulled me right into his arms.

You ever wonder, Peanut, why I make you listen to silly love songs all the time? You ever put it through your thick fucking head that maybe it's because you absorb all the other stuff like a sponge and then you wind up in a puddle of fucking misery and I have to wring you out and dry you off and you take fucking forever to dry, you do. It's better if you just don't go in but you're like a magnet to that stuff. Before I can turn around you've run off and gotten in right over your head again. You gotta stop doing this, I swear, we're getting too old for this shit and I love you too much to see this happen over and over again. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Ignore me, I'm about to feel sorry for myself.

At precisely six minutes and forty-five seconds in to An Offering of Grief by Pallbearer the song changes into something so beautiful and hopeful that I could listen to it on a loop for the rest of my life, headphones jammed in so deeply to my skull they've permanently altered my personality. I have a new copy of Sorrow and Extinction and I've just about worn it out here, guys.

It works best standing on the cliff overlooking the sea in the pitch dark, trust me. Also you would do well to replace whatever blood runs through your veins with something that burns.

Ah yeah, there we go. Everything's okay now.

Except it's probably not. Let's give reality a chance here, shall we? Ben called again tonight and still he did not want to talk to me. He's doing great. Guess I mess that up something awful, don't I?

So I'll be where I usually am, doing what I usually do, which is wondering what it is about me that makes them disappear.

No bird.

Meh. Say what you will, the redhead is not only one of the few men on the planet who will sit through one of the oldest film adaptions of Jane Eyre, but one of the few who can quote extensively from the book at will.
I have for the first time found what I can truly love–I have found you. You are my sympathy–my better self–my good angel–I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my centre and spring of life, wrap my existence about you–and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.
(We had a lot of time to read on the midway. Did I mention we stole library books? Well, we did. And I'm not sorry. A background in classic literature is an absolutely essential ingredient in the recipe for Good Humanship. But the kicker is we would leave the books behind at the next library we visited on our travels. To be fair.)

Satan preempted my morning routine with a surprise day off without explanation. I think he's angry. He looks a lot like Colin Clive too. But not Colin Clive as Edward Rochester. No, he looks like Colin Clive as Henry Frankenstein. Egomaniacal, deluded creep that he is.

I said it. I can say it because I'm barricaded in the living room behind a blanket and a boy. I wouldn't say it to Caleb's face though, no way.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Wax nefarious.

And you belong with me
When I went into the garage yesterday the harsh, grating flutter of black wings startled me, making me press my back into the door until I caught my breath.

Because I forgot and Cole is still in there, and I kept him away until Lochlan took my light. Lochlan doesn't see him anymore but once the flames were gone and Lochlan was too Cole stepped out into the darkness, disapproval written all over his handsome face.

You forget about me the same way Preacher got sent away, Babydoll? 

Maybe. I hold Cole's eyes with my own. He can't scare me now, I think as I fight not to tremble outwardly. He sees this and softens, smiling almost, his dark blue eyes so clear and deep without his glasses.

I want to ask him about my hearing, if it will be perfect again like his eyes. I want to ask him if he'll hate me less when I'm dead. I want to ask if he'll get along with the others better after they're dead. I want to ask if he knows how long some of them even have. I want to know if he loves me. I wonder if he hates me for the fact that he was never a father by biology but when I open my mouth I'm too afraid to say anything.

It doesn't matter. As brothers, they share certain gifts and he has read my mind, just like Caleb does. If Cole could do it in life no wonder things turned out like this.

Come with me and I can show you. His mouth is so compelling. I want to bite into it. I want to keep him here. But then I look at his eyes and his eyes say run. Distance and experience have left him little more than a pure blackened nightmare, one I can't see past to see my Cole. So long I spent with him and he is reduced to a spectre of unease and longing.

And I listen. I run outside into the bright light where there are no ghosts and no truth, no folded stolen cash, no hearts remaining unbroken, no newborn metal, no belief.

There is no nothing, it's all been burned away.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Two truths and a lie.

Rise from the dead you say,
Secrets don't sleep till they're took to the grave,
Signal the sirens, rally the troops,
Ladies and Gentlemen, it's the moment of truth.
I was treated to a rousing singalong of Shadow Moses, surprisingly by the easy-listening boys, who have been exposed to this song on a near-criminal basis the past week or so. Lochlan and August traded off some pretty impressive metalcore vocal licks while PJ and I stood and appreciated their efforts like nothing you've ever seen. When it was done I clapped and said Again! Lochlan winked and refused, saying his career as a thrasher has to be kept fairly quiet or the floodgates will burst wide open and once they do, we can NEVER EVER close them again.


There was a knock on the side door, just down the steps from the kitchen where the driveway turns into a high wall that becomes the backyard. PJ went to get it and I kept washing dishes. Washing and washing until I felt eyes staring into the hole where my soul used to be and I turned my head to see the Devil standing there.

Bridget... It was a drawn-out, expectant word.


He smiled. Have you seen my money clip?

Hmmm? Oh, yes! I found it in the driveway.

In my pocket as I stood in the driveway you mean?

Oh, possibly, yes.

May I have it back please? His amusement turns pained and I dry my hands and go to the desk in the hall, fetching the clip. I bring it to him and he holds it up.

And the bills?

What bills?

The money that the clip was holding.

I didn't see any money.



Are you going to give me back the cash?

If I had any to give you, I would. I hold his gaze and he finally lets enough doubt creep in to let me off the hook. Fine. If you see a folded stack of bills, can you check with me? They must have fallen out when you stole the clip.

I nod slowly, raising my eyebrows.

He leaves, nodding at PJ on his way out.  Once the door closes PJ looks at me.

I like the way you told the truth by saying you didn't have any money to give him because you already spent it. That's really good.

I didn't spend it, PJ! I put it in the bank yesterday. I'd feel unsafe walking around with all that cash. Yeesh! Don't you know me better than that?


I am sitting in the middle of the floor in the garage flicking Lochlan's Varga Girl lighter on and off. It's almost out of fuel. It lights up the dark.

He opens the door, walks across the floor to me and takes the lighter back. He tells me he's going to put mousetraps in his pockets if I don't stop this, and walks out the door, closing it behind him. Leaving me in the dark where I belong.

He's just mad because I always take the lighter instead of his wallet. His wallet is always empty, that's why. The lighter is worth more than nothing.

So am I.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Ochre and pitch.

And I found myself in a bitter fight
While I've held your hand through the darkest night
Don't know where you're coming from
But you're coming soon
I find it hard to watch him work but here I am, standing in the doorway long after bedtime, not wanting to disturb his efforts but needing to find some sort of resolution to his feelings, such as they are.

He was angry on Monday when I took Ben's truck and went for a drive alone. He was angrier still Tuesday, that I chose to share a memory that he would prefer to keep under wraps. (It doesn't matter how it all happened, he said, what matters is that it DID, and we're still here with each other.) And then by Thursday Lochlan had stopped talking to me altogether while I traded playful barbs with Satan, exchanging very little work for a big paycheque. Sometimes, when he's in a playful mood himself, Lochlan says he needs a Sugar Daddy too and I remind him he has Batman. He HATES that as much as he hates my working arrangements. But it all stands and we wind up on the other side of every week just like we always do.

And so I stand here in the door between heaven and hell and watch Lochlan paint, which is pretty much the same as it was when I watched Cole paint, right down to the fire burning close by and the curls that flip out against his neck.

He's listening to West Coast quiet-pop and singing along and not doing it for me, he's concentrating. He doesn't even know he is singing, I'll bet.
Come on and we'll sing, like we were free
Push the pedal down watch the world around fly by us
Come on and we'll try, one last time
I'm off the floor one more time to find you
I smile in spite of the long week that rests between us. I keep the wedge in place. He put it there and now I hold it. If I give it up I'm doomed. If I trust him, I might die. I keep it there because I'm brave and because I'm so afraid so I proceed through life by touch. Even if it means making those I love angry, even if it means everyone winds up on a different side and I'm the Bridge in between.

What do you need? He says it over the music without looking up.


Sure about that?


Look, I don't do so well with him, okay? Especially without Ben in between as an intermediary.

I know.

Then don't expect me to like you spending time with him. And don't expect me to approve of the things you write either. Jesus, Bridget. It was so hard. So hard and you didn't see.

I know.

Not with the same gravity. You were too young. You need to keep that off. It makes me look so wrong.

All of it makes me who I am now.

He stops and puts down the brush and the cloth. He smiles to himself and finally he looks at me. Yeah. I know it does.

You going to talk to me again?

I might.


Yeah, Peanut. Come here.

Saturday, 19 January 2013


I'm working and having a breakfast date on a Saturday and Caleb is all admiration and stars in his eyes. Perhaps he is still dreaming. 

It's your capacity to endure. 

You or your brother?

Everything you have been through. 

Including you and your brother. 

I'm going to change the subject now. 

To what? Cheese? 

Possibly, he says. He is fighting a smile now.

My capacity is that of your standard, shorter-than-average human and nothing more. 

On the contrary. You're extraordinary. 

You like words that end in -ary. 

Oh do I? 

Sure. Exemplary. Revolutionary. Weary.  Blah. Let's get going. I'm starving. 

Patience, Babydoll. I'm waiting for one more call and then we can leave. What are you going to have? Did you decide yet?

Nothing with cheese, if that's what you're wondering.


For those of you via email wondering how it's so 'easy' (WHAT the fuck.) to joke around with the Devil or wax nostalgic about past and present love while my husband rots in a rehabilitation program in the US (one with a five-star chef), please remember that Ben did this to himself and I'm not supposed to stop living, nor would I do anything that I wouldn't do if he were home.

Also remember that the Devil and I have a mutual love/hate relationship and this is how we do things and finally please, if we're going to go there, open your life to me so I can judge what you've done.

There are thousands of other blogs to read. You don't have to be here. I like that you are, though.

Friday, 18 January 2013


This will not be funny to anyone except for me. So there.
And I could write a song
A hundred miles long
Well, that's where I belong
And you belong with me
It's death by Coldplay today.

I really need to call in sick most of next week or my wee little brain won't survive. I've already had one nosebleed this afternoon. That's my brain, exploded against the inside of my skull, leaking out in tiny crimson increments.

He's singing along with Swallowed in the Sea. He intuitively sets me up and I fall for it every time. I hope the letter opener is sharp for I intend to throw myself on it shortly. But Caleb knows me well. He's hidden the goddamned thing and now he keeps offering to make us some coffee because we both have headaches. Our work is just about done for the day.

Sure, but before you go do you have the letter opener so I can deal with the mail?

I smile sweetly and he hands me the choice instrument of my death today.

He turns back at the door. Bridget, it won't kill you, just probably require you to have stitches and possibly antibiotics so unless you want to spend the afternoon being fussed over by the Russian physician I think you should perhaps choose a different method. I'm partial to erotic asphyxiation if you're interested. I can't guarantee success but we could have fun trying.

I can't believe you just said that.

I can't believe you're trying to get out of work by maiming yourself with office supplies.

Not like you haven't used the duct tape for a similar purpose before, Caleb.

Duct tape has no business being in the office. It's purely for pleasure.

Maybe you should be the face of duct tape, then, and change the image people have of it.

Maybe you should, since it's usually your face it's on.

I'm going to go home now.

Can I come? I'll bring the tape.

Naw. You stay here and open envelopes. Alone.


Thursday, 17 January 2013

And when you find it, you keep it.

I watched her leave again this morning. Peyton, or whatever her name really is. An interesting look on her face. Maybe her financial dreams are slowly coming true as Caleb settles up. Maybe she's glad she's uninjured, unscathed. Maybe she sees what he is and is relieved to leave. Maybe she likes him. I don't know. I don't care.

I thought you said you weren't going to see her again.

He glares at me and says nothing. I go to work, sneaking looks at him all morning. After lunch I am caught up on the mountain of work that grew so tall as I dawdle and daydream through life waiting again. I go back to watching him work and finally I can't hold it in any longer.

What is it like? I blurt out.

Caleb looks up, eyebrows raised curiously. What do you mean?

What is it like to sleep with someone you don't love? 

He stares at me for several moments establishing whether I am serious in my curiosity or simply seeking an argument. He chooses wrong. Why don't you tell me, Bridget?

Because I've never done it so I want to know what it must feel like.

That is the best news I've heard in years, he says quietly.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Keith is reading another one of his grim dystopian-future books.

What would you bring to the apocalypse, Bridget?

I bite into my fluffernutter and take a sip of my coffee that is laced with toffee syrup.

Guns, Keith. Guns and sugar.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Sparkplugs and firebrands (all in).

(While we wait for Ben to get better I'm going to entertain you with some memories like this one, in which I think dressing up like the older girls will somehow inspire Lochlan to admit his true feelings for me. It worked! And I am still JUST AS AWKWARD. )

I leaned way up on my tiptoes and looked into the mirror.  I drew the dark red lipstick across my bottom lip and then rubbed my lips together as I had seen Bailey do a thousand times if I saw her do it once. Then I took the comb and teased my hair but it's so long and heavy I seemed to only succeed in giving myself a glorious case of bedhead. Carefully I drew a black line of eyeliner along my lashes and added a tiny bit of mascara. Not a lot because although my lashes are long, they're naturally white. Too much and I'll look weird. Bailey's makeup is hard to figure out but I think I did okay.

I tied a little knot in the back of my t-shirt and slid into the miniskirt I stole (along with the makeup) from Bailey's closet, a skirt that is too small for her. It fits me in that makes my legs look way longer. I give my hair another go-round but it's a losing battle so I arrange the longest bangs across my forehead and call it a day.

I step back.

I look way older. For sure.

Once it gets close to closing time, I go looking for Lochlan out at the bumper cars. The Shit Show, he calls it, since it's the end of his first week working the Midway. Because he's new he pulls the worst jobs. We're not all that far from home yet. He says my name and then does a double take, dropping his keys on the floor. He bends down to pick them up and then he does a slow circle around me with a huge smile on his face.

I got this, I'm thinking.

Then he bursts out laughing. Oh my God, Bridget. You just wrote a book you're not old enough to read yet. 

What are you talking about? I'm still determined to play it cool and act like all the girls I see who are closer to his age, which is a good five-and-a-half years older than I am.

He opens his mouth and then closes it, changing his mind. Sparing my pride, softening his next words as much as he can. You're inviting attention you can't handle yet. He takes my hand and turns away, pulling me down off the platform to head back toward the staff washrooms. Let's go get you cleaned up.

No! I did this for you. I want to be looked at differently!

He stops and I smash into him. I leave a red lipstick print in the center of his back on his white t-shirt. When he turns around he is still laughing. I'm so humiliated I want to cry.

What do you mean?

I want you to look at me like I'm...older. The kiss-

The kiss was a mistake. Bridget, you're twelve.

Admit that you like me in spite of my age! I clapped both hands over my mouth.

He stopped and stared at me. Say that again?

No! I stamp my foot. You heard me! Why would I be out here with you if you don't feel the same way?

He just stares. I am trying to wipe the lipstick off using my hands and my forearms without breaking his gaze. I finally give up and stand there with my hands balled into fists. My bangs are in my eyes. My nose is running. But I'm so stubborn. I'm not going to cry. I'm not. I'm not. Oh shit.

He comes back over and puts his arms around me. I keep you close. I keep you close so that when you finally do grow up I will be the first man you see. I'm keeping the odds stacked, I hope but based on your age I don't want to rush things and screw this up. I smile at that, because he's not a man, he's Lochlan. He's only seventeen, soon to turn eighteen. A man is someone with a mustache. Someone who has to shave more than four times a year. Someone who wears a suit to work and owns a helicopter, I think.

I'm old enough now. I tell him. Tears are dripping off my chin. They are black with mascara. His t-shirt is ruined. So is my whole outfit.

He smooths my hair down, tucking it behind my ears. Trying to get my bangs to go too and failing. We need to cut these, he murmurs close to my face and I push him away.

That's exactly what I mean. I'm just a kid to you. A pain-in-the-neck, a little sister.

Like hell you are. He hasn't budged. Still staring.

Prove it, then. I tell him. I untuck my hair. I wipe my fingers across my cheeks to clean up my face. Smokey pale green eyes and red stained lips face him down. My hair is ruined I think and I look ridiculous in this outfit but he pulls me into his arms, kissing me so hard it hurts my lips. I can't breathe but suddenly I don't want him to stop. Ever. This is like the kiss in the truck that night just before we left to come on the show only it's different because he's pressing his body against me so hard if he lets go I would fall. I throw my arms around his neck, tilting my head and he kisses harder still. He is so warm. So, so warm. Abruptly he pulls away, his hands holding my face up to his.

My eyes fly open and I'm expecting him to swear into my forehead like he did the last time but this time he doesn't.

I love you, Bridget. 

My heart rolls into adulthood with triumphant fanfare before tipping onto one side, spooling down into a tight circle before coming to rest on the metal floor of the ride. He watches it and then takes my hand again to leave but I don't move.

I love you too, Lochlan. He stops, staring at me for several moments in the dark. My heart is back in my chest hammering harder than ever. We smile shyly at each other. It's a milestone, an inevitable progression after spending the better part of the past four years together without exception. What's surprising is the intensity of this. A ferocity I, we, never expected.

If this is love I am all in.

As we walk back to the camper he puts his arm around me and pulls me in close. I look up at him. Between the moonlight and the stars, the lights that never turn off and the music still blasting from the Ferris wheel I think I might have dropped straight into a dream while still awake. Everything changes now. Everything changes. There is no going back from here.

Once locked safely in the camper, Lochlan warms a washcloth and gets to work on removing the worst of the makeup from my face and all of the smears from my arms.

You don't need this stuff to get my attention, Bridget. You never did and you never will, okay? I nod and he steps back to admire his handiwork. I am scrubbed and shining, on display suddenly with no disguises to hide behind.

Come here, he says softly and I take a step forward.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Please don't ask me how I am
A little tired, a little scared
I'm not amused, not upset
Don't need a leash
I'm not your pet

So loosen up, feel the breeze
Let me hear, hear you breathe
It's better than bitter now
When you breathe I love that sound
But you know I'll look after you like no one
This must be what having a teenager is going to be like. If I double-cross every last one of them it's not that hard to take the keys to the truck and head out early, up the snowy highway singing cheesy songs at the top of my lungs, absolutely no idea where I'm going. I even emailed in sick to work and then I told everyone else I really had to get some work done and when I drove home finally after not feeling like doing anything at all there was sort of a crowd in the driveway, a bunch of pissed-off guys with their hands in their pockets and looks on their faces that told me I should probably throw the truck into reverse and peel out of the driveway sideways, smashing through the gate and drifting around corners as I head back up the hill and maybe I could drive back and get Ben, since I mostly prefer to stand behind him these days and suddenly I am exposed and vulnerable and open to punishment for all the things I do that I'm sort of not supposed to, most of the time.

But I didn't have my passport on me, it's sitting on the dresser because I haven't even unpacked yet and I have no cash on me either so I can't even bribe anyone to let me into the US and if I call Batman, odds are he would have the same look they all do so I frowned and pulled into Ben's parking spot and sat there staring at the siding on the house until Lochlan knocked on the window and yelled for me to turn off the engine.

Aw, fuck. 

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Rattle and thumb.

He did not abandon you Bridget. He needs help and he's getting it and when he comes back he'll be that much stronger. 

I didn't even say anything yet, Sam. 

No, but you're wound up so tightly I'm afraid you're on the verge of springing wide open. Do you want to talk for a bit? I'll be free this afternoon. I can come over. 

No, I want to sleep but I'm too wired. 


Not to escape. I haven't been to bed properly since Friday, Sam. 

I know. Get some rest then but if you need me call, okay?

I will. I promise. 

I press End on my phone and throw it on the cushion. I sit back and reach for Daniel's hand. He is pretending to read but he keeps nodding off and I wait and count and then try to slide the book out of his hand and he will startle and insist that he is fine. But he won't go lie down and he won't leave my side and I know he's a little bit scared and a little relieved too but Ben is still all he has.

Though, that's a lie. He has Schuy. He has me. He has everyone but no one replaces Ben.

That I understand.

My phone buzzes again and I reach to pick it up. It's a message from Caleb. How convenient. 50 days remain. 


I text him back. ITS ABOUT YOU NOW? SELFISH.

He sends another.  No but we can't help Ben now. He's in very good hands. If you were too things would be better but you're not so they aren't. 

I send one back. Daniel's looking after me so I'm just fine thanks. 

Caleb replies almost instantly. Daniel is made of moonbeams and unicorn tears so that gives me no confidence whatsoever. Where is Pyro when you need him? Wait! Don't answer that. 

Not cool. If you look outside he's in the driveway with YOUR SON, cheering him up with a little show. What have you done to see to Henry's feelings about Ben being away?

I turn the phone off.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Blood sugar.

We were here just under four years ago. Under the same set of circumstances even, with Ben making a swift and surprising descent into his addictions and finding himself at the bottom with no way out. I don't know what happened, I just know that it happened so fast.

As per instructions I was to blow the whistle the moment I felt afraid of him and so that's what I did. But I don't want a pat on the back. I enable him. I excuse his endless absences. He is busy. He works all the time. I don't tell you he hides out with his guitars. I don't tell you he fights for every goddamned day of his life. We're just trying to be normal over here.

We're failing miserably, I know.

So it's off to a treatment program for Ben thanks to many strings pulled.

I'm flying home tonight. Daniel hasn't left my side. Batman walks ahead of everyone, in charge and in control. I think he likes feeling needed. Lochlan already got into it with the intake people, when I was taking too long to answer their questions (I couldn't hear the questions, everyone was talking over me but drunken-Ben was the loudest) and Lochlan started answering and they asked his relationship to Ben and he blurted out indignantly,

I'm his wife! 

Daniel smiled very quietly. August would have laughed if there had been any levity to find whatsoever and Ben totally categorically denied even knowing Loch before saying I'm sorry, Bridget to Lochlan's face and kissing him.
Yeah. I didn't even get a goodbye.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Sepulchre in a sunrise.

Sometimes I don't know why I write anything at all. I'm a broken record. Or rather, I hold the record for breaking things.
Just a break
We could shrink to something
That might not make it back
He got down on his knees and pulled me in close, resting his head against my chest, my heartbeat his metronome. He didn't move as I held my breath, my arms wrapped around him, my lips against the top of his head.

I could smell the alcohol on him before he made it across the room so I knew the apology was coming. I could light a match and everything would go up in flames right now. I only asked for one thing and this isn't it. This isn't trying. This is falling into familiar patterns for Ben. Reaching for flammable creativity and liquid confidence. Reaching for the dark when the light is too blinding. Reaching for the rage because contentment feels alien and strange.

But it doesn't work and I can't keep time when my heart is skipping, rolling out the door, beating a hasty retreat instead of throwing a lifeline.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Cold reading.

He said, 'Love I leave, but only a little, try to understand
I put my soul in this life we created with these four hands
Love, I leave, but only a little this world holds me still
My body may die now, but these paintings are real.'
The sun lingered today, just long enough light the clouds up like spring as it waited near the horizon for me to notice but I was busy watching Lochlan paint. When I looked up into the sky it was so abrupt and beautiful I almost started to cry. I could only point to it and so he stopped, putting his brush down and he watched with me until it faded back behind the clouds and he pulled me into his arms and I watched the sun go to sleep over his shoulder, my arms locked around his neck.

You've been doing this since you were a little girl.


Maybe I just remember things a little better that you would. 

Why, because you were older?

Yes, so I knew day changing to night freaked you out and I chalked it up to your overactive imagination. 

And now?

I don't know, Peanut. Night is when the monsters come and maybe you knew that before the rest of us.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Keep your silence or
Reach for life beyond the stars
Save your mercy
For someone who needs it more
I'm the guilty
All the feelings come crashing down on me
I'm taking you with me
I couldn't get all of the writing off my arms and so I was forced to wear a cardigan with my dress today, which brought comments from Caleb within minutes of me walking through the door this morning.

How long, exactly, is the Ringmaster's speech, Princess?

Seven minutes, sometimes as short as five
, I reply.

And what did you generally do while he gave it?

I was still in makeup, usually.

He stands there staring at me for several uncomfortable minutes and then asks to see the words so I shrug out of my sweater and stand on display while he makes two circles around me, frowning, his head cocked dangerously to one side so he can read all of it, though it is faint now from the thorough scrubbing I did in the shower last night and again this morning. Lochlan's handwriting is gorgeous and illegible and hasn't changed at all since he was sixteen because he isn't a book-learner so things like penmanship and cursive writing are afterthoughts instead of efforts. He spends nothing on them and so he gets little in return.

Caleb swears under his breath and instructs me to put my sweater back on. He holds his hands out as if to take it and hold it up so I can be put into it. I ignore his hands and pull it on without help. He's in a hurry to cover up any trace of Lochlan's predictable defiance.

Aren't you a little old to be writing on each other? Says he who wrote oblivion on my fingers and Neamhchiontach across my back, one very recently and one decades ago.

No, I reply in a dull voice. This subject is off limits. I'm not doing this today.

Today my task is to file all of Caleb's souls by Justification for Purchase. It's cross-filing, since they are always filed alphabetically immediately upon acquisition. He likes to peruse the arguments, he likes to absorb the lingering desperation and he delights in the elation that emanates from those he enters into transactions with before they can realize the true gravity of what they've done.

These contracts are kept locked up tight. None can be broken, none have ever been dissolved, for he is the Devil and once you give him something, you can't ever take it back. I have the key only as long as it takes me to get the job done and then I will return it in exchange for unparalleled, unwarranted attentiveness.

I'll sit here in the semi-darkness and make neatly-printed labels for the multitude of color-coded files spread out on the floor around me in an ever-widening circle. Labels that say things like Financial Independence, Talents, Indemnification, Vanity, Comfort. There is also a label that reads Innocent, and it is the thinnest, for the one file that rests within it, the one with my name on it. Because the Devil not only purchases souls, but he can acquire them through other means, by mere proximity to someone young enough to not understand that their soul must be protected.

He can appropriate it when no one is looking and keep it forever, but the price he pays is that the soul's original bearer gains access to everything he has to offer. They will hold those respective positions in a virtual deadlock for time eternal, with holes forming on both sides at various intervals throughout their lives through which coveted promises fall. Currently he doesn't have the loyalty part of my soul and it's been a hell of a long time since I've had any comfort, and that's just where we stand right now.

But by far the thickest file is Requited Love. As I thumb through it I see all of my boys' names, alphabetically from Ben right through Jacob and everyone in between. Because in their rush to exchange what seems like a valueless anchor, a myth for something they desperately want, they fail to obtain the most important thing: the definition of what they are asking for, for all love is not created equal.

Some love is brotherly, some fatherly, some distant and some benign. Because vanity means different things to different people, and comfort comes in so many forms if you have something in mind, you might just be disappointed. Each of these things the Devil can twist and shape into something that barely resembles what you wanted most. This is his greatest deception.

And so by the time you realize what you have done, it's usually too late.

No, wait.

Let me correct myself.

It is always too late.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The scorched earth policy.

(If you're looking for the Part II of yesterday's post, or even the second half of what was posted yesterday, it has been removed. Some memories are safe, warranted and welcomed while others are the nostalgic equivalent of swimming in lava. I was cautioned not to proceed. My apologies. Perhaps another time.)

While I'm on the phone with Andrew, Lochlan picks up the sharpie from the counter. Before I can stop him he begins to write all over my arm. Before I can read what he wrote he admonishes me for not paying close enough attention to my conversation. As if he had nothing to do with distracting me.

Is it Ben-safe? What you are writing?

Jesus, yes. Is anything not Ben-safe? Or rather, is there anything safe from Ben? He'll probably think the words are food and try to eat them right off your flesh. 

I laugh and Andrew thinks he is clever, on the other end of the line that travels across Canada and underneath the Atlantic to get to him. They are in Ireland and I've progressed past mild jealousy and straight toward seething, rabid envy. Dalton is collecting women, they say and they haven't seen him since yesterday or he would have a turn on the phone too.

I ask that they maybe keep a better eye on each other and Duncan laughs over the speakerphone on their end and says, But it's Ireland, Bridget! It's safe enough! And then Andrew howls and I realize they are mildly trashed and having a blast and I ask them just to be safe and look after one another and they promise me they are but I don't want to know how and by the time I hang up Lochlan has written all over my other arm as well and is capping the marker, quite satisfied with himself.

He holds up the sharpie. I think you might need a new one. This one's worn out. 

I have dozens. 

Oh good. I'll do the rest of you later on. 

PJ snorts over his cereal at the island. I....forgot he was there. Apparently so did Lochlan.

Hush, you, I tell PJ and he laughs out loud and mimics Lochlan's words in Lochlan's accent but then he adds all of this crass stuff I won't even repeat. Why the boys didn't take him overseas I don't know. He might have been useful. Oh, right. Bodyguard duty here, though technically he is the nanny. That's right. I said it.

What did you write? 

The Ringmaster's speech. 

Oh fuck. You didn't. The whole thing? I am spinning in a circle, trying to see the backs of my elbows. He did. The whole thing.

Lochlan! Why couldn't you have just written the lyrics to a Pink Floyd song or something. Now I feel like the freak that I am! 

Good. He said and broke into a crafty, peculiar smile. Might make you less appealing to the more conventional types around here.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Proving ground.

You said that you love me
And that you always will
Oh you begged me to keep you
In that house on the hill
Looking out for love
Big, big love
I wake up alone with it all
I wake up but only to fall
Today I tied my hair back in a messy little knot at the nape of my neck. I shrugged into my blue velvet leggings and a very long black sweater and I slid my rings onto my finger, grabbed my phone and my coffee cup and walked next door. Barefoot. In the pouring rain. In January. Because January here is a laughable winter compared to every other place I have lived. Because I haven't even gotten my boots out at all this year, let alone most of my shoes. Caleb now has a big sisal mat outside his door and inside a nice plushier one to catch all the leaves and sticks I track in. I'm like Ben without the size fourteen boots, undomesticated and clomping all over the house making a mess before we call to him to take them off already. I ignore the rug and track leaves right through into Caleb's office.

Caleb frowns when he sees me. He's already at his desk with coffee close by and pen in hand. I thought you would be running errands this morning. It's Monday, is it not?

I can't do this.

He stands up and comes around the desk. Can't do what? What's the matter? He frowns when he sees my dirty bare feet and I smile. It illustrates perfectly the point I am about to make.

I'm not the sort of girl who has a driver.

You can be any sort of girl you want. We've already proven this. Last week you were extolling the virtues of sleeping in furs and now-

There's a difference between a night of luxury and a life of one, Diabhal. 

I know, Neamhchiontach. That's why I want to give you that life. 

What if I don't want it? Any of it?

You'll come around. You always do. It's just the pain talking today, making you doubt everything. Go get some sleep. All of this will keep until tomorrow. If you need anything call me. 

If I need anything I'll call Loch. 

His hand tightens around the back of the chair but he says nothing.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Heart of clay.

If you twist and turn away
If you tear yourself in two again
If I could, yes I would
If I could, I would let it go
Surrender, dislocate
Lochlan's out there in the pouring rain practicing. Maybe for a show in his memory. He's on the unicycle and he's juggling dry torches, keeping the cycle rocking slightly in a back and forth circle about fourteen inches across. Sometimes he does a loop around the fountain.

I stand at the window and watch. After a minute Ben speaks and I jump seventy-five feet. My headache hurts worse as I unclench my whole body bit by bit.

Think when he comes in we should put money in the hat?

Definitely. But only a tenner because there was no fire.

Tough customer.

Go ask him to light them up and we'll make it twenty.

Ben pulls me back to lean against him, putting his cool hand against my forehead. I close my eyes and when I open them again Lochlan has fallen and Ben has torn away from me to run outside.

It's the stupid bricks Caleb had put into the driveway in a pattern to make the driveway sort of tie the whole property together. They form a square with the fountain marking the center, and as you drive around it the brick connects the boathouse and garage to the house. It looks pretty but it's somewhat lethal if you only have one wheel under you instead of at least two or hopefully four for best results.

I watch as Ben reaches him, as he was out there before I even realized what had happened and Lochlan is sitting on the driveway surrounded by the tools of his other life, the one that he would trade everything to go back to sometimes, when life was so much simpler. Ben claps him on the back and pulls him up onto his feet. They look at the window where I stand with my hands pressed to the glass. Ben nods and smiles. Lochlan's okay.  Lochlan waves toward the window without meeting my eyes. His pride. Oh, goddamn his pride all to hell sometimes. He begins to pick up the torches. Ben helps and soon they have all four plus the cycle and they head toward the garage and I go to the kitchen to make another pot of coffee.

Lochlan just needs to practice more. Maybe on the concrete instead. I reassure myself as the side door opens and Ben walks in, followed by Loch. He is soaked, bleeding from one elbow and his lip too where he bit it on the way down. I grab a clean towel as he tells me he just needs more practice. Maybe on the concrete. Because those fucking bricks. My brain smiles in response but not my face as he assures me he is fine. He puts his soaking wet arms around me and pulls me in close, resting his bleeding lips against my forehead. I close my eyes.

I told him about your headache not being any better, Ben apologizes as if he had crossed a line and I reach out without opening my eyes and take his hand. He squeezes it gently and then moves in to surround us both in a hug. Dripping and all. My pajamas are wet and the boys are both freezing now but if you think I'm going to move from this embrace first then you don't know me at all.
This desperation
In temptation

Let it go.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Bacon fixes everything.

Yesterday's entry brought a little bit of that thing I hate almost more than when Lochlan swings at Satan and misses. Yeah, that thing called pity that wells up in spite of their efforts to keep it quashed lest I see it. I don't say a lot about Cole, overall. I never have. We were seen as a somewhat idyllic match at one point. They all crushed on him. They worshipped his passion. He ruled this collective in a way that would blow your mind. I didn't want to be the one to ruin their image of him.

I still soften things. Habits this old are hard to break.

So between the pity and the newly-missings, this is shaping up to be a wonderful day. We took Dalton, Duncan and Andrew to the airport this morning. They are headed overseas to work on a thing and God love them, my only hopes are that they don't take anything offered to them unless it's a hamburger, they wear protection so they don't bring home anything...untoward and that they just hurry up and get home, only it looks like it will be March Break before that happens, as they go and work their butts off to see that things run smoothly for everyone else. They have promised to bring me as many skull tanks as they come across in merch, too. Awesomesauce.

They also said they will call and check in every Tuesday and Friday night at ten pm local time, which will be morning for them there. Duncan's promised to not come back in the same shape he did last time and Dalton I've never worried about. If anything I worry for the girls he will leave with broken hearts all over because he tends to lay it on really thick. He's like that. Andrew was never as crazy as the rest so he'll do just fine.

Since Ben had to drive to the airport, he organized another breakfast out for himself, Lochlan and I. He really loves going out for breakfast, mostly because I am slow to awaken and refuse to use the stove in a sleepy state. We went back to the same place he took the boys the other day and they got me a Lumberjack! Which I demolished!


And then they told me not to worry about anything.

(Always the inevitable ambush. Always in some place that has the super-thick white coffee mugs that I adore but won't purchase for home use because then it won't be as fun to use them when we go out.)

They both promised that everything will be fine, because we are the three musketeers.

They made me cry. The waitress thought something was wrong with my food and I couldn't get a grip long enough to tell her that it was great (Lochlan did it for me) and then we came home and piled downstairs into the big couch to play Halo and I almost fell asleep because I don't like very many of the games but I do like it when the other two musketeers are close by. Yes, I really do, in spite of how much my stomach hurts now from all that grease I ate instead of my usual banana for breakfast. It was so good though.

Also an important note on grudging: PJ has finally come around after Lochlan's New Year's Day teardown of his bouncer skills. They have hardly spoken to one another since and finally Lochlan grabbed PJ in a big hug and told him he was sorry. Out loud. PJ pretended not to react for so long we could see Lochlan's hopefulness waning mightily and then PJ threw his arms around Lochlan and kissed him on the mouth. I love it when that happens. Lochlan said he lost control out of worry for me and PJ accepted that and said he hoped he would never be lumped in with those who have any less than my very best interests at heart and that he wouldn't see me hurt for the world.

They shook hands, which seemed a rather formal after that kiss and then PJ only asked Lochlan to change one thing in the future: to make sure PJ gets invited to all these breakfasts out because he would like to have a lumberjack too.

I asked PJ if he was coming out of the closet or something because..that kiss... and he looked at me sweetly and told me If it has bacon on it then yes.

Remind me to have Loch brush his teeth before he sees PJ again.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Lamp black.

I am working diligently on tax forms for 2012 this morning when Caleb appears beside me. With a goofy smile he slides a small box in front of me. It is wrapped professionally.

I had one more gift for you, which I'm afraid was lost in the shuffle or the haze of the pain from the headaches over the holidays. I discovered it this morning. 

You don't have to-

Just open it, Bridget. Please. It's only small, but it's something you will love. 

It's a mink key ring. A little round ball of fur with a clip. I smile and stroke it across my cheek and then his. So soft.

Do you remember the Danish mink blanket I gave you and Cole when you got married? What happened to it anyway?

He burned it. 

Caleb's eyes go from pleased to saddened in a blink and I'm sorry I didn't censor myself but I seem to always speak first and think later.


Cole is listening to Emerson, Lake and Palmer and painting tonight. It's pouring outside but he has opened all the windows and put a fire on. He's in his customary darkest-blue paint-flecked jeans (that match his eyes so closely it's frightening) and nothing else, it's his painting uniform. The black leather cord with the German cross dangles against his chest and he grins at me through his dark brown curls as he tips my glass up to his lips, finishing the rest of the whiskey that I left because it burns too much.

Take off your shirt, he instructs.

It's freezing and it's the only thing I have on.

Wrap that around yourself. He indicates the mink blanket from the daybed. It was one of the gifts his brother bought for us for our wedding. I didn't have the heart to tell Cole that Caleb bought it because of a room we stayed in in Vegas that had a fur-covered bed that I couldn't bring myself to leave. Sleeping naked in fur should be on everyone's life list if it isn't already. I'm not sure if Cole would be actually be upset however, since he was the one who made me go on the trip in the first place.

I unbutton my shirt slowly. I don't want to model anymore. I just want to sleep. I don't know why he doesn't know me by heart enough to paint without me having to sit here for hours, days on end while he spirals down into the darkness that is his gift. I don't know if it's worth it. Who in the hell is going to buy paintings of a girl they aren't in love with?

He pours another glass of whiskey for himself and comes over to me, ripping the shirt apart and sliding it off my shoulders. He pulls the mink blanket around me and gathers it in front, pulling my hair back so my face tilts up toward his for a kiss. His mouth burns too. He holds his glass up to my lips but I try and turn my head away. He turns it back and gazes into my eyes for what seems like an eternity before letting go and taking the glass back to the easel.

Sit on the floor, Bridget. By the fire. Warm up there. 

I do as I'm told. I sit for hours. Excruciating execution. At three in the morning he cleans his hands and comes over to me, pulling me to my feet. He's tipped past his breaking point. He's frustrated and I'm going to bear the brunt of his creative block or whatever is wrong now.

WHY are you like this? He roars at me, ripping the blanket off and throwing it into the fire.

Like what? I'm terrified and tired and confused.

So fragile. I can't paint fragile. This portrait isn't you. I don't know who it is. But I can't get this right. Why can't you be stronger? 

He turns around and storms out of the room and I look down in time to see smoke pouring off the blanket from where it landed inside the grate, underneath the mesh screen, and is now singeing around the edges, melting. I drag it away, onto the hearth and smother it up into a ball. It's ruined.

I put more wood on the fire and close the windows. I twist the caps back onto the whiskey and the paints that Cole missed  in his anger. By the time I'm finished cleaning up the room is warm and I can't stay awake any longer. I fetch the ruined blanket from the floor and lie down on the daybed, pulling the blanket over me, ashes and all. I'm asleep in seconds and in my dreams Cole is burning, having tried to throw me in the fire when his hands were still stinging from the paint thinner he used to clean up with. I could not be held by him though, I disintegrated when he touched me and he burned instead.

He would spend the rest of his life capturing the fragility he saw in me. Through paintings, in photographs, in his minds eye. In his heart that finally broke from the effort. He sold his soul to his brother and figured it out and his creative world exploded into accolades and recognition for something I thought was so very ordinary.


Caleb (by purchasing his soul) and then Batman (facilitating exposure to the right people) made Cole famous.

I just drove him mad.

Thursday, 3 January 2013


Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here.
Ben took Lochlan, Cale and Batman out for coffee this morning. Or breakfast, I guess because they're not really coffee types, honestly. They went to a pancake place and Caleb pretended he was cool with ordering something called a Longshoreman or Lumberjack platter or something like that. This was described to me in great glorious detail because apparently Caleb seemed very ill-at-ease in a three-quarter star restaurant. Batman was not, he just magically fits in everywhere. They set about eating like it was very seriously business once the food arrived. I think they were all probably terrified.

 All three of them assumed Ben was going to crack heads but Ben is vastly underrated and does more than eat the contents of my purse and pretend that he is home more than he is.

He's quite the talker, once you get him going and he rarely fails to make perfect sense. I have no problems with getting him to talk a blue streak but most of the others have never heard him say more than a few sentences in the same week. He's not even considered quiet. He just tends to hold back for the most part. Giant rhymes with silent, he always tells me with a wink. still don't think it does...

Each of them were addressed in turn and I believe they're all on the same page now and again no one is going to make any sudden moves, Batman is still agreeing to the space I requested and has left it as such. He will interfere if he feels it is required. Caleb has agreed to stop with the fucking envelopes already and take his cues from me (which is such utter BULLSHIT but whatever, I don't think anyone believed him.). Lochlan (who called Batman in the first place, after New Years Eve) agreed to shitfuckall, because he's still royally pissed at everything and everyone. Ben apparently had him step outside and cooled him off with even more soothing words, after which Loch went back inside and split a piece of apple pie with Satan. I don't even..what?

I think the Longhaul Trucker platter maybe slowed them all down a little or simply weighed down their arteries enough that they're going to be able to sort of possibly almost maybe get along as things stand right now. Well okay, Ben's making a great effort. The rest of us are fucked. 

Just fucked.

Completely and utterly fucked.

Because let's face it. I can charm the pants off absolutely everyone anyone but my juggling skills are rudimentary at best.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

What a weird and beautifully terrible place I'm in.

You don't need to bother
I don't need to be
I'll keep slipping farther
But once I hold on
I won't let go 'til it bleeds
We are toe to toe, hands to hands, fingers knitted, eyes focused, foreheads pressed together and he pushes me right across the polished tiles of the kitchen floor and into the hall.

Ben thinks this a riot.

What part?

That I'm angry. 

Ben doesn't understand the fuss, maybe. 

Do you? Jesus! Do either one of you see how fucked up this is? GARGHHH! I can't STAND this.

Loch. Stop it. I wait for him to get control of his fury. He drags his hands down his face and focuses on me and I can continue. There's no room here for judgement, especially from you.

Oh but there is. Especially where the Devil is concerned!

PJ comes to the door, every inch house enforcement. Princess protection detail. Care, in bearded form. You okay, Bridge?

Lochlan whirls around on him. Jesus, Padraig! She doesn't need protection from ME. If you want to be useful you should have stuck around New Year's Eve when the vultures set about her!

PJ reddens and turns away, saying nothing. I jump back into the fray. Jesus, Loch! Leave him alone!

Maybe he wants in! Maybe I'm the only one with any common sense anymore, baby!

Instead of standing up to him, I shrink like a violet in hot water. I feel very small suddenly and not very powerful. Just very ashamed. I don't like it when anyone makes me feel that way. I shut down, stop talking, stop meeting his eyes.

Aw, Jesus, Bridge, I'm sorry. He pulls me into the front of his shirt and I disappear against the flannel, blending in with the plaid. Shutting down because it's Lochlan yelling at me and all I ever wanted and all I ever seem to fight against is his approval and the moment I step out of his control he can't handle it. I put my head up against his cheek as he bows his head down and I wrap my arms around his neck.

I'm sorry, Locket. I don't mean to hurt you.

Do you do it for Ben? Is that what it is?

Oh God. The rage, it's emanating off him in waves.

I wait long and hard to answer that question, weighing the truth against an easy way out. And then I give him my answer. He has to accept it because he knows it's the truth and he knows that I would never hurt him intentionally. He doesn't let go. He doesn't cast me away and hurry out the door. He doesn't yell anymore or admonish me or try and force me to bend back the other way, he just holds on as tight as ever.

Abruptly he pulls away, looking down at me, reaching up to smooth away the hair in my eyes (fucking bangs). He laughs so ruefully. You age me, Peanut. And you're not ever going to do that again.

I age myself, Locket. And you don't get to decide these things.

Like hell I don't. You've been through enough. It's done.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Bombshells and curveballs.

The reminder was more of a warning, a clean cut, slicing night into day, 2012 into 2013 and right into wrong but no one found it sinister. Only compelling. Hauntingly so.

This is about Bridget. It's about what she needs. 

(Only I'm right here. I can hear you speak. I can hear you breathe. I can distinguish between your heartbeats and between the voices in your own heads and I'd better do it quickly because my own heartbeat is thumping between my ears, pounding a rhythm to a dance I don't think I remember all that well or maybe I do and maybe I would have liked to forget.)

A head bends down and kisses the space between my nose and my mouth. Softly. No razor burn. No expectation. Butterfly kisses in the new darkness. The fireworks have ended, the sparklers have fizzled out and the guests have all gone home. Black takes over, cool sophisticated black the color of unstrung bowties and tuxedo jackets. Everything else is pure white gold. The champagne. My earrings. The stars, I bet, but I can't see them because of the clouds in between the earth and heaven.

Breath against my lips, waiting for a sign. I exhale slowly, nodding my head up higher still for a kiss on target. The breathing excites me, held in control, anticipating, halted and measured. My hands are brought behind my back and held as lips trace along my neck. My shoulders. I lean back against a wall of solid muscle. I am kept there. My shoulders are squared, my neck extended and my eyes are slow to focus through the haze of sparkling bubbles.

No regrets, little Bumblebee, mumbled softly, a kiss planted on top of my head as if I might grow from it. Surrounded by love, enveloped in their hearts, I don't need a net right here because they are the net. I reach up, taking the end of a tie. I pull it away from a collar in exchange for a smile. I tie the bowtie around my neck and pick up my glass to finish that one last drink that's been refilled twice since. The glass is taken away, handed off. I don't know where it goes, I have champagne-brain again and don't have to be responsible. Instead I feel powerful. I say the word. I want to test it. Immediately all movements stop, concern replacing need.

I say it was a test and feel the relief replace the brief concern. Hands slide around my head until my face is held up close to another and I reach up and free another tie for my stylish new collection. Everything will be fine, Babydoll, I am told as I am turned away once more. This is my own private carousel where I can stand amongst the prettiest horses where the music is the perfect volume only the lights are leaving tiny trails in my eyes as I turn faster. I reach out to hold on. To keep balance.

I nod. I understand but this is only the beginning so I might test again.

My hands are released and I am handed into arms and held tightly. Possessively. You're okay, Peanut? I am asked. Wanted is the reassurance I was just looking for. I nod again and pull another tie out from under a collar but it is taken back from me, stuffed into a pocket. Included but continuing to be kept apart. I go to work on the shirt studs and fail miserably as kisses rain down along my temple, as I am held so tightly that if I didn't have to breathe I might never let go again. I put my head down against a shoulder and the hold is further tightened until I am gently pried away. This night will come so easy for some and so haltingly slowly for others. This night will never ever happen again.

In the morning I have two bracelets, one earring and two bowties still on. I look in the mirror and the night stares back, judging me. I tell it harshly to walk a mile in my shoes and it tells me with contempt that it wears my shoes every time the sun goes down, until it comes back up again, to not even pretend that I will be absolved for this, that when the bubbles wear off there will be hell to pay.

I lean in very close and remind the night that I have been saving up for years, that I have more than enough to cover whatever price it can come up with.

I want to remind it that it should pay me for my cost. That the scales are tipped in its favor and that isn't right. That the curses of favoritism and dignity and terror and need are all at price points neither one of us can even touch.

But then I remember there were moments. I made it from one end of my high wire to the other intact. So many moments. I take one more look at the carousel before I turn to leave. I turn back to the mirror and I stand up on my tiptoes, reaching up with my lipstick, writing NO REGRETS on the mirror in Dior's 752 Cherry Red. I smile at myself and for the briefest moment I feel like I conquered the world.

Then I reach up again and smear the words until you can't read them anymore, because I know better than that.