Sunday, 31 March 2013

Lazarus lunch.

Lunch today was spread out on the long barn-door table Ben built in the vineyard so that we could eat outside without being relegated to the rather dull concrete patio at the bottom of the steps. I much prefer to sit out in the lower yard, surrounded by grapevines. It was so warm in the sun and so cold in the shade, I kept my soft angora wrap handy to pull up over my shoulders as the shadows shifted over me.

Christian finally drew Bunny Duty this year (see previous years here and here). For some reason he's never had his name pulled, and after a decade it became a bit of an inside joke and finally, on this final year of egg hunts for the children, he had the honor of dressing up in his morning suit (coattails and all) and the giant creepy bunny head, and he played it hilariously, zipping and zagging and being caught and escaping and the children shrieked and almost for a moment forgot how cool they are, and how old they are now, the wonder years diminishing in favor of being sure that everyone knows that they know that the Easter bunny is usually one of the boys.

I hope these years are short-lived and they find joy in the magic again sooner rather than later, but since I've been exposed as Santa Claus and a part-time tooth fairy, it stood to reason that the Easter Bunny would not be far behind.

Of course, had he not been so readily observable this year, we might have stretched it a little further. But that's it. Next year Henry will be on the verge of thirteen instead of twelve and they would rather have iTunes gift cards than chocolate eggs, and they would rather sleep until ten on a sunny Sunday morning than get dressed at the crack of dawn to go hunt treats out in the damp cool grass.

I thought about this as I put together the first outdoor lunch of this year. Devilled eggs. Coleslaw. Everything bread. Fruit salad. Roast beef and ham. Cheese. Homemade salsa and chips. Cinnamon buns and iced tea.

I don't have to enlist anyone to help carry dishes out to the table. They come looking for sustenance, for companionship. For family routines. I straighten Ben's tie and tuck PJ's collar back down. I ask Henry to go wash his hands (again) and I sent one more message to Caleb to find out if he is coming or not (he is) and then I check through the window beside the front door to see if Sam is here yet (he isn't). I debate calling him when I see Matt's car drive down around the fountain. Good.

I remind Andrew of the app that he asked me about earlier (Kitcam, so awesome) and I watch Duncan for a few minutes to see if he's got his flask or not (he doesn't). Dalton is still asleep and will eat later (no surprise there). Lochlan is juggling cans of cheap beer on the grass, stopping when he sees Andrew come down the steps, then offering him one as if it isn't a loaded weapon. Andrew thanks him for the cold beverage and then pretends to open it just as Loch loses control of his poker face. Andrew's been here a long time and he's aware of Lochlan's tricks so he aims the top at Loch before pulling the tab, howling with laughter as Lochlan jogs around the yard in a big circle, just out of reach of the spray of foam.

 Ben calls everyone to the table. Once everyone is seated and settled, Sam stands up and says grace. It's beautiful. Like the table. The yard. This life. These people. Matt leans back in his chair and watches Sam with a quiet smile on his face. Ben rubs his thumb up and down the back of my neck as I lean against him, enjoying the tiny tides of goosebumps on my arms as they rise and fall. Lochlan faces the head of the table to listen to Sam but his arm is stretched back, holding my hand. Ruth interrupts to point out there's a ladybug on the edge of the bowl and so she won't be having anything the bugs have touched and Caleb ignores her declarations, serving her a nice big spoonful of potato salad anyway. She dutifully thanks him with the worst look on her face ever. Lochlan watches her across the table as he pours tea for everyone. They are talking without saying anything. It's a slow but wonderful process and she works hard to bend her mouth into an agreeably pleasant expression. We hold up our glasses in a long-established pecking order. Ladies first, followed by the youngest all the way to the oldest.

Caleb finally holds out his glass and Lochlan takes it and fills it, passing it back. Caleb smiles and thanks him and Lochlan looks at the sun and then says he's sorry but there could be a ladybug in that glass of tea. Cue Ruth loudly proclaiming she's not going to drink any ice tea either and I say her name quietly because most of the time that's all it takes. Lochlan keeps going, digging at Caleb so I say his name too. He stops. Mercifully.

Everyone else settles down to the business of eating Easter lunch, a new sort of tradition we've developed in the past three years that far eclipses our previous traditions or past lives.

As the number of plates pushed away continues to grow along with voices rising around the table, Lochlan finally finishes his second helping. He winks at me.

That night. You remember so many small things. 

It was a pivotal moment in your life.

Every moment you're in my life is pivotal, Bridge. 

Not sure whether that's a compliment or an insult, Loch. 

It's a compliment, Idiot. That was an insult. 

I thwack my fork against his forehead and he scowls and rubs the space between his eyes. The sun goes behind a cloud again and I reach for my wrap but Ben is already pulling it up around my pale shoulders. He kisses the closest bone and thanks me for lunch, telling me it was good. That he loves these kinds of days, that everything is a resurrection here sometimes. I lean my head against Ben's chest for a minute. He's right.

Sam watches us. He nods enthusiastically at Ben. He's let his hair grow and now he has a wavy, willful cap of curls that suits him perfectly. He has kept an eye on the time and now he stands to the tune of the collective groan rising up from at least half the table. We're all too stuffed, too warm and too tired to move, but he has one more service today and so he has to get back to the church. Henry and Caleb have plans with an Xbox and Ruth wants to load up her phone with music so Loch will be busy for hours and I figure by the time I get all of this cleaned up with PJ and Ben's help again it will be time to start supper.

If I've learned anything at big holiday dinners with these guys is that it doesn't matter how late I delay a meal, how many servings they have during the meal, or how insistent they are that they're going to be full for days, weeks even, no one has ever failed to show up for the next meal.

Happy Easter.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Blaze (another installment brought to you by twelve and seventeen).

Do I need a ticket
To buy this ride?
Convenient it appears in front of me
The expression on your face gives a sign
And I don't like it
Wait, he said and he staggered toward me, his eyes locked on mine. Then he veered off around the corner and I figured maybe he's had enough alcohol and he has to go to the bathroom. He comes back around the corner holding the hose. Oh. He needs some water, I think and then I remind myself of what he's doing and mentally breathe a sigh of relief because the water bucket is only going to help so much in an emergency. An endless supply is a much better idea.

And then he turns it on me and I shriek. It's ice cold. I put my hands up and turn around, shouting his name but he doesn't stop. He walks closer and raises the hose up over my head, making sure to soak me good. Making sure my hair is wet, my shoes, and a four foot circle on the ground around me.

He drops the hose on the ground at my feet and nods. You're safer now. Don't you move, Peanut. I swear to God, if you move- He loses his train of thought and returns to the unplanted garden, the turned earth where he is learning to manipulate the flames. He can already throw fire, juggling so many torches I have a hard time keeping count, but he wants it all. Tonight he's eating it. Fire is cake to him.

Lochlan's so smashed right now I have my doubts that he should even continue. They're teaching him fire-eating out behind the utility buildings at the end of the road where the parking lot is, jammed full of our campers where we sleep between days spent working the midway. He wanted me to be there to watch his evolution and learn a few things too, he said and so he woke me up in the middle of the night, helping me dress, chattering quietly about securing our future. Taking things higher, burning up like a comet in the sky. I nodded sleepily. Future. Sky. Fire. What does he think my dreams are at night?

They're not this, standing dripping and shivering in the middle of the night in late August watching him learn he has more than a natural affinity for this. Don't inhale. Don't spill. Don't swallow. Pay attention because this can kill you but you know, it will also render you blind drunk in the space of the first twenty minutes so good luck remembering your techniques at that point. Good luck indeed.

Every time he puts flames on his tongue I hold my breath along with him. Every time he shoots fuel out between his teeth and lights it on the upswing with the torch I force myself to keep my eyes open in case I need to drop, grab the hose and save his life.

But at the same time I'm rapt. The flames dance white-hot in his eyes. He is visceral and alive and excited. He's a natural, they tell him and he's proud. Chest-thrust out, ego-soaring proud. Stumbling-drunk proud. Pretty sure of himself and finally when I realize he's having trouble holding still when he should I ask him to stop.

Loch, please! Enough for tonight. 

No, Peanut, I'm just getting the...hang of things...just a little longer.


He stops and stares at me. He rocks slightly. Then he smiles crookedly and nods. Yeah. Okay. He points his finger and staggers backwards two steps. Admit it. Your blood is thrumming. I can feel it from here. I just want to get this right and then I'll teach you. We'll do it together and then we can buy that land up on the Cape and we can have everything we've talked about. 

Right so pack it in before you have an accident. Your luck has run out for the night, Mister. I give him my caller voice and he grins.

Yeah, okay.

The gear is packed up and the others drift away into the darkness at the edges of the night. Lochlan puts his arm around me and apologizes into my hair for getting unintentionally drunk off the grain alcohol they were using for fuel, for soaking me in cold water, for waking me up, for keeping me a captive audience, and for being so thorough in planning our future. Ours, together. All of this is for me, although after tonight I'm thinking maybe he should be a house painter or something and I'll work in a bakery. Safe things. Easier things with regular pay. Nothing that devalues his efforts, with half his talent given away for free when people don't pay for the entertainment, instead disappearing into the crowd, forcing him to return to the back end of the lot and run rides. Forcing me to want to steal just to help out.

But Lochlan reads my mind. Naw, Bridget, the plan now is to make them pay up front. Spread the word, create an irresistible show, maybe on the sideshow circuit down south and then negotiate the profits from admittance fees and concession. I have it all figured out. We'll be world famous. 


You'll be incredible.  I'll eat fire off your skin. We can kiss, exchange flames. You can mimic me behind my back and make them laugh-

He stops and grabs my head in both hands. He brings his forehead down and presses it hard against mine. Shared brains. We both waver now because he's controlling my movements. I laugh as I keel crazily to the right and then overcorrect and veer far down to the left but then he gets us under control.

Listen to me. You're so brave. You were brave to come with me and braver still to stay. If I can do anything you can do it twice as well. Matt says he's going to pass my name along, that it's a..what's the word? Attrition! Attrition kind of thing where you have to wait for a space or be that good that they make a space and acquire your act, but he knows enough people. So we develop this and make it different and then word will get around. Let's do this. Let's live off this magic we found. Let's keep it unreal, let's...oh fuck, I'll be right back. 

He took off running out into the middle of the field, and stopped, bending over, hands on his knees, bringing up all of the fuel that found its way into his stomach. Hopefully none of it went into his lungs because I don't think he could expel that. He remained swaying crazily in that position forever while I shivered and plotted and twisted and planned and by the time he made his way slowly back to me, a new clarity on his face, we had it figured out without saying a word. Our take on on the traditional act of fire-eating. It hasn't been done before. Or maybe it has but we don't know yet, we'll have to wait and see. The only thing we know is that even if it's been done before, it will have never been done like this.

We make our way back to the camper and clean up best we can. As we settle back in under the blanket, my hair freshly towel-dried, detangled and loosely braided, my limbs safely ensconced in his hundred-and-ten-degree clutch, he tells me that the beauty of the next five or six years, until I am an adult, is the time we will have to learn and practice, to plan our future together, and to further perfect our mind-reading. He lies there smiling at me, this terribly drunk magnificently affectionate flame-haired teenage boy taking back over from the winsome, inherent showman I watched earlier in my sleep.

I drift off with the taste of alcohol on my lips, his I love you promise ringing in my ears. I burn without fire. I feel dizzy. I have that weird hyperventilaty-scary-happy feeling that only comes from Lochlan. Like I can't breathe when I'm around him but I can't breathe without him either.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Alright Friday.

I'm thinking it's like a whole nother week where I should just not write.

I'm in a positivity race, running down the track full steam when BOOM, out of nowhere it hits. A rock, right in the side of my head. I waver and stumble but I don't stop running. More rocks come from somewhere just outside my peripheral vision, pelting me, bruising my skin, causing me to weave but I keep on running, dodging the larger ones if I can, ducking and bobbing along like an idiot but...

You know something?

Fuck it. I drop my hands, slow to a stop and turn and walk back to the starting line. This race isn't going to happen today. They won't let me run it.

There were a few good things about today. Lochlan coming home with good news. Caleb and Lochlan both loosening their helicopter grips enough to let both kids wander around the neighborhood together even. Sunshine and a cool breeze. Sam calling in between services telling me people are funny when they only show up twice a year for church and expect him to remember every little detail of their lives. August sending an email thanking me for not crucifying him (yeah, he made an Easter pun) in print, that he's been waiting weeks on pins and needles for the inevitable entry and it wasn't what he expected so he wished us a happy weekend and told me all about his job interviews 'in town' this week. I called him.

In town? You mean near where the gas station and the flag are?

The very same. As many amenities as you have on Point Redemption there. 

I have an army. Who needs amenities? 

You do, Bridget. 

Toushaaaaaay, August.  I'll dispatch the army to get them for me. 

It doesn't work like that. 

Dammit. It should.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Newfie Donuts (Front-wheel drive only).

August left the point just before Valentine's Day. For good. He went home to Newfoundland and he isn't coming back here unless it's for a visit. I said sometimes people come and sometimes they go but it took me until now to get through transcribing his departure without going to pieces.


I take that back.


 ...Like, whole decades of mixed messages, conflicting orders and inconsistent patterns of rewards and punishments that have left her confused and emotionally stunted by the lot of you. 

Years ago when she made such self-deprecating comments about being feral I dismissed it as a mild lack of confidence but now I see. She was pointing out her own awareness of this. She can't cope properly because you all keep changing the rules. It would destroy anyone, let alone a suggestible child and let alone to continue for as long as it has.

I had a responsibility to my best friend to see that she was taken care of. And I have tried. But certain things have happened in my own life and years have passed and I'm not seeing enough change here. It's one thing to say her grief is ebbing significantly, and it's a whole other thing to see her sabotaged on a daily, even hourly basis with your wants and inadequacies. 

And with that, I'm out of here. Going home. I have a full plate to deal with and I can't watch this anymore. She's such a beautiful girl. It's a shame she's been destroyed first by them and now by the selfishness of the rest of us.

I was standing behind the door in the alcove that becomes the library, tucked in on the north side of the main level, quietly set apart from the rest of the house. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I know what it means when there's a family meeting and I'm not invited.
I know what it sounds like when someone's leaving and they're not coming back.


Late that night he comes to find me. He takes my hand, leading me into the living room by the fire. We settle into the big couch and he throws an arm around me, pulling me close.

I haven't been here for you much the past few months. 

You've had your own issues, I don't expect you to drop everything and look after me. I do okay. 

Yeah, you do better than okay. He smiles ruefully and I am about to burst. Bridget-

I know you're leaving. Oh God, I hate that feeling right before crying. I hate the fear of being without anyone. I'm afraid of the homesickness. Afraid of being alone. Afraid of going to find him and not finding him there. Like Cole. Like Jacob. Like me.

I gotta go home, Bridge. I have to look after my folks. Jake's folks too. I need to figure out what I'm doing before I get any older. I think you have enough support here. I think they're competent enough. I think maybe I don't help as much as you tell me I did.

He's referring to the months in between Jake flying and when I let Ben hold my heart. I went to August. I called him Jacob in the dark and he put his arms around me and held me against his warm skin. He sounded just like Jake. He tasted just like Jacob and he gave me nights to fall asleep in that hurt so much less than they would have otherwise and then it became an albatross for him and he had to pull away again, but only a little. Enough to make room for Ben. But he gave up more for me than I could have ever asked him for, five years of his life watching, evaluating, making quiet suggestions that more often than not were hurled back into his face. He had guts. He never minced words with me.

But we had fun too. It wasn't all work. It wasn't all pain. He is a part of this family and he always will be but I know he won't ever come back and live here again. It won't be the same. If only I could force things to be the same but I also want him to go back and settle down properly, find love that will last and be true and have children if he wants them and be happy. Use his education doing social work again, instead of fly-by-night psychoanalysis. Maybe we can visit. Or maybe we can just talk on the phone.

You did. You were there from the beginning and you've never judged me. I love you. 

I love you too, Bridget. Jesus, you change people. I didn't believe Jake when he said you were a walking breathing heart. He said you were the definition of his love. He was right.

(Right there marks the moment I was given the best gift I could ever have asked for. Right there. The definition of Jacob's love. I need no more than this.)

But of course God never listens to me so I keep listening to August as he talks and I make that stupid, heartbreaking attempt to drink in every detail. His blonde/red eyebrows, his long curls, the hemp bracelet that has been reduced to fuzz around his right wrist. His worn jeans and freckled hands. His short eyelashes and tall frame. His hard jawline and threadbare watchstrap. His slender fingers that touched me in the dark when it was so wrong but so needed.

Past tense but he's still alive. I wish my brain would bluescreen so I could send it back under warranty and sync up a new one.

Five years is a long time to give up your own life for a friend who took his own. Why do you owe anyone anything after that? Why would you do that?

August is a good human, that's why. One of the best I've ever met.

Will you visit, August?

Maybe, Bridge. I don't know. I imagine in a bit I'll come back out and see everyone. Once I'm settled again.

Or we'll come to the Bay. 

That would be so great, Bridget. If you can manage it. I know it's not an easy place to go.

I throw myself in his arms. The sobs are just pouring out now.  And then suddenly Ben is lifting me up, away from August and he turns me around and holds me tightly. August stands up and kisses my head. I love you, little princess. Thank you for making my best friend the happiest I ever saw him. He loved you so, Bridget. Don't you ever doubt that. We all do. Every last one of us and we'd go to the ends of the earth for you so if you ever need me you call and I'll be on a plane. You promise me. 

I am spun back around for a response. No, I can't do that to you. Go and live your life. I don't know how to thank you. I don't even know where I would start. 

Hey, I needed to be here just as much as you needed me to be here. Don't think this isn't an escape from everything else too. It's a dream, princess. So are you. 

But I'm a nightmare, August. 

Not even close. Jacob wasn't someone who had any patience for put-ons or nonsense. I think you bought him time. He never planned on you. I don't think any of us did, Bridget, Jesus. You're just a tiny little planet and we're all rotating around and around you and I gotta go back to my own solar system. Don't you cry, you hear me? And don't write me off as a bastard or a coward or a jerk. I don't mean to make things harder, I promise you. That's the last thing I would want for you.

August, if you say one more word I'm going to keep you. I choked it out slowly. It wasn't a promise, it was a threat.

He opened his mouth and then thought better of it and smiled sadly. Instead he just held out his arms.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Envelope, the verb.

The best thing about the internet today?

Randy Blythe's Instagram. Now with devil horns.


In other news, also with Devil horns (because that envelope I found yesterday curiously hasn't moved), I'm sort of suffering again. I pushed a little too hard at yesterday and moved it a little too far and it slid back and crushed me like a bug.

But I'm a ladybug, so I have wings AND a hard shell and I pushed back and we're pretty much in a holding pattern at wherever I was around noonish yesterday when I had all KINDS of great ideas on how to wear myself to smithereens instead of taking it a little bit easy because of being so sick on the weekend.

Sam and Henry are playing a game together, Lochlan is away-away in the City of Angels delivering a work of utmost importance. He called a little while ago and after we talked he wanted to talk to Ruth. I told him she wasn't here.

Where is she?

I don't know. 

What do you mean, you don't know?

I mean, she's somewhere between here and _______'s house (Best friend). I imagine they're wandering the streets. She has the phone with her.

Wandering the streets? She's thirteen, for chrissakes. 

Right. Thirteen..

Okay. I get it. Just keep tabs, would you?


Bridget. I worry. I'd feel the same way if I called and PJ said you were out wandering the streets. 

Well, that would be a whole different scenario if I was, wouldn't it? 


Relax. Please, Loch.

How, Peanut? 

You just remember that she's half you and half me and so you can have confidence in her value judgements and her problem-solving skills. 

Knowing that she's half me and half you only guarantees to me that she'll definitely be far weirder than the average kid. 

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Jesus, take the wheel.

(The title is completely unrelated today. Some days the day is completely unrelated to the day, here. In other words, I'm feeling better so you get the Necro-gnome-icon girl. Enjoy her while she lasts, for I'm sure it won't be long.)

Batman asked me this morning why I cause him so much misery without even being an active part of his life. I shrugged. I'm not actually going to let him put that on me because I didn't ask for his continued presence. I keep trying to get rid of him. He just won't leave.

I don't think it's my fault. I've been fending off his advances for a few years now.

I say now because there was a time when I didn't fend them off. He was a nice reprieve. Actually, I don't think that's it at all. He's always been patient and disapproving and difficult to read and closed and stunningly attentive.

And gosh. He's handsome. And rich too. And he has manners we don't even know yet.

But he won't leave.

I wish I could make him go but he and Ben are up to something and he's doing a little more due diligence with Ben this time so that Ben doesn't wind up leaving part of his soul behind on any more projects. They sort of ruin him. He can't set boundaries (I KNEW THIS PART) and then he just gives all of himself to something and doesn't know what to do with the empty hole when he sends his work out into the universes.

But pshaw, we all knew about the boundaries thing. Right? Right?

Right. Because I saw the silver envelope under Ben's ipad. I saw it but I didn't touch it. And  I don't want to know what it says or when it's for or any of that. Nope. I don't. And I didn't say a thing when the first words out of the client's mouth on the monitor as I left the room were the wish that they could have done this in person, because it would have been so much easier.

I don't agree with that.

I'd rather have Ben here, even if I have to start from scratch to teach him the difference between right and wrong. I don't think he's ever known, frankly.

I don't think I do either.

Monday, 25 March 2013

I'll just call it FacePalm.

Hearing aids. Now. 

Yessir. (I run and fetch them and put them in.)

Wow, you're fast. Now turn them on. 

ARGHHHH. Fine. Just a minute. (I turn them on).



How are you feeling, my tiny beelet?

Like shit on a shingle, Benny. I wish you were here. 

I know. I like to argue in person as well. 

I wouldn't fight with you if you wouldn't keep flying off to places I can't go. 

Is that what this is?


You miss me?

Cleverness really isn't your strong suit, is it?

No, we established that, Bridget. My strong suit is Hearts. 

That was the best comeback ever, Ben.

No, this is: I'm in the driveway. In case you didn't notice your FRONT YARD behind me on the screen. Cleverness isn't your strong suit either. But I knew that already. 

(At least that's what I think he said. I dropped the phone on the carpet and ran right out the front door.).
Still sick. Fever broke yesterday finally. Well, maybe. I hope it stays away. Doritos are good again and I crashed out hard on the living room couch at four yesterday thinking I would close my eyes for twenty minutes and work on my headache and it was so noisy and no one really noticed until BOOM, I woke up and it was almost six and we hadn't even planned dinner and Ben had to leave at seven to catch his plane and I pretty much railed at him for thirty minutes straight, made him a sandwich and refused to end the argument as he was walking out the door. 

Just like Tour! Only for a shorter time period. In other words, I'm still going to remember what I was mad about when he comes back. I'm not sure how that will go exactly but let's hope for the best. After all, he could have done this on a conference call. He could have stayed home to look after me and then he wouldn't a reason to complain that I don't "need" him.

I do. He just is very hard-headed and won't LISTEN.

In other news, my throat now hurts worse than my nose (which is always bad but good, I think) and my head feels like a freight train stopped on it and has no plans of moving forward. Every time I cough it's like being punched right behind the eyes.

So excuse me if I'm a wee little bit crabby today. I have just about reached the point where I'm prepared to auction off another little piece of my highly-mortgaged soul to the Devil so I can feel like a million dollars again.

(That's a figure of speech.)

Back to death I go. Let's try again tomorrow?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Death's Door.

The world is still coming to a rapid end here. I can't breathe at all but the game has just been upped with the most amazing Feel Better present in the universe:

It weighs fifteen pounds at least. It covers the 1870s to 1950s! It's the most beautiful book in the world. I had to put it up at the kitchen counter because it's too big and heavy to rest on my legs to look at in the big chair in the library.

Thank you, Locket. I love it. I love you.

Friday, 22 March 2013


Benjamin's home. He brought Nyquil from the airport. It had already expired. I didn't say anything. YOLO and all that. I took it anyway. I gather I have fifteen or twenty minutes tops before I'm down for the count or I am fatally poisoned.

Your random email questions today, answered:

1) Yes, I realize 102 degrees isn't death's door. But it's higher than usual and I'm enjoying the hallucinations immensely.

2) PJ's jokes involved indignities to dead bodies. Okay? Happy now? GROSS. I can never ever die. Ever. Ergo, I hope the Nyquil was still good.

3) Loch sang this song on a loop for me and I don't think I realized it for the first three or four renditions:
And if I told you that I loved you
You'd maybe think there's something wrong
I'm not a man of too many faces
The mask I wear is one
Those who speak know nothing
And find out to their cost
Like those who curse their luck in too many places
And those who fear are lost
He did a good job. He is very tired now and asleep on the floor in the library.

4) Where is Duncan? Oh, dear Internet, you have a crush too. It's okay. We all think he's just the cat's meow. He is also sleeping (not on the floor but on the couch in the theatre room) because he took an additional late evening torture shift and spent five hours listening to me complain. This after spending most of yesterday afternoon listening to me complain.

5) Where is the Devil? Entertaining the children, thankfully. Finally he's doing something HELPFUL.

6) Ben is not in trouble. There's just no point in him sitting around in NYC until Tuesday so he came home for the weekend.  He seems to be convinced that sex, movies and Ketucky Fried Chicken are totally going to fix everything.

I hope he's right.

Oh. Lights out. Holy. 


102 degrees (and still far below what everyone's favorite fire eater runs at).

Saw rainbow hedgehogs on the lawn.

Coughed up so much snot I made a very bad joke about snotnauts. Oxygen seems so scarce and I got scared. It took a long time to soothe the panic from coughing so hard you think you'll find a lung in your lap eventually but Lochlan sang and sang and sat up and rocked me like a child and PJ sat on the floor and made bad jokes about things I can't repeat here. Because no one gets how sick we can be and I don't mean snotty-sick.

Dalton brought in juice but I couldn't drink it and basically everyone over twenty has been awake since four this morning.

And Ben too, who got on a plane and will be home any minute now.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Iron Maidens and hipster nursemaids.

(Lochlan had a full day of errands to run today out in the valley and so he left me to the Creative Facial Hair Club members. I will exact payback when I feel better.)

Death approaches slowly, walking in sock feet, not making a sound as it advances across the room and crawls into my throat and sinuses. My temperature rockets to a hundred but it's not enough to fry this clear and present danger, intent being to leave no survivors, and no trace that it was ever here.

Today I wandered around the vintage stores in a feverish daze while Daniel tried to get me to approve or dismiss everything he held up. I find four more Louis Vuittons (one real) and a whole herd of Coach bags and a Fendi too. He found a jacket Ruth would love. I just couldn't get my act together to feel good enough to care or buy anything in the end but he managed to drag me to four more stores and then suggest I stop at the insurance company (our broker sold out, ergo new paperwork ten times over) to drop off new cheques so I did that and then I cried Uncle. I wanted soup so we...came home.

Because in Daniel's sheltered universe, BRIDGET makes the soup.

Huh? We could have stopped at five different delis on the way home but instead he just assumed I would feel well enough to make a big lunch.

He went home in a huff, hungry and I threw the bag of clothes he bought right out the door after him. We both miss Ben. Daniel is a closet brat though. He won't admit that something's wrong, he just acts all twitchy and belligerent until I boot him out and then in three or four hours (the time it takes to watch two rom-coms and drink half a bottle of wine alone) he'll slink back over with a big case of the sorries and the Iloveyous. He's nothing like Ben when it comes to fighting. He turtles without any effort at all. It's almost disappointing to argue with him but if it's all the same to you I'd rather not.

Duncan took over control of Princess Ickynose Duty and made soup for me, putting it in my big Chococat mug with a spoon and a bubble-tea straw, on a tray with juice and crackers and then snuggled in with me on the couch with a whole box of tissues to watch The Man Who Laughs. I drank the soup, almost fell asleep and promised myself to campaign for a remake of the film that follows the book a little more closely.

Duncan swore he'll have nightmares for the rest of his life.

I apologized for sneezing on him, but he said that wasn't what he meant.

He turned off the television and the DVD player, closed the curtains and instructed me to sleep until close to dinner time. I obliged willingly and also vowed to someday maybe marry him too, if time permits, since he's surprisingly nurturing for someone so blindingly cool.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

In a perfect world:

  • All boys give hugs without being asked and don't let go until someone else does first.
  • Every romantic lovesong is sung by Corey Taylor (at least in my head. He has a perfect voice).
  • No movies are directed by Judd Apatow or Tim Burton.
  • Laughter is endless and unable to shut down without herculean effort.
  • Money doesn't grow on trees but things are more evenly distributed.
  • Lochlan has no temper.
  • Neither does (did?) Cole.
  • Jake would have had no despair, no hopelessness to offset his flawed faith.
  • Jake's faith would have been whole and perfect.
  • Sam would not be restless, but content.
  • Ruth and Henry are always safe, forever and ever, amen.
  • I can park a car without a ten-foot buffer zone in all directions.
  • Cotton candy doesn't make my teeth hurt.
  • PJ finds what he is seeking.
  • I'm not allergic to sunscreen, fabric softener, food coloring or red wine.
  • The beach is closer and there are no oil tankers in the harbor (wtf Vancouver?)
  • The Atlantic and the Pacific don't have to fight for my loyalty.
  • Chocolate cheesecake is easier to find.
  • My favorite television show (Revolution) moves to 7:00 PM instead of 10:00. 
  • My narcolepsy gets cured by something stupid, like chocolate cake. (Sadly I tried this already and it did not work.)
  • Caleb would find a hobby (besides making money, collecting things and...chasing me.)
  • The wind would disappear.
  • The cherry blossoms would stay up in the trees where they belong.
  • I wouldn't have to wait so long for the third book in the Divergent series.
  • Ben would retire now instead of in thirty years time.
  • August would come back. 
  • I am never sad about things beyond my control.
  • God pays attention to me.
  • I can hear. I can hear you. I can hear everything.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

We call it Heartbreak Point because we're dramatic like that.

Ben is still in New York, probably eating his weight in pizza with one hand while signing contracts with the other. Batman will keep him out of trouble but they won't be back until at least next Tuesday. Why? Because it's March break, people are away and so they have to wait until those people come back.

I see the irony in this and I decline to even fight about it. Ben will work himself to death and I'll stand there with my shovel, damp earth weighing down the blade, splinters in my fingers from the handle and I'll tell him I told him so, just not out loud.

Caleb took his life in his hands today (as if it is ever anywhere else) and brought over a new envelope today. A big manila one with Lochlan's name on it.

What is this?

 The proposal he would like. 

What do you mean?

Read it and see. 

But Lochlan didn't read it, he burned it because he doesn't care. Or maybe because he does. It was sort of a relief to see it go away again without the weight of Caleb's blood spilled on the pages or my soul dissected in print for all to see. We didn't grow up when everyone else did, you see. We're stuck. Wedged between seasons, trapped under age.

Argh. Now I'm curious, Loch says with regret. I can't fight him blind. 

Never stopped you before. 

True, he says ruefully. You know, I think maybe we should take a trip.

Memories of flying down the Oregon coast, an angry mob chasing us the whole way rises in my throat like bile. No, I'm fine right here, Locket. 

I mean a real trip, Bridget. I think I'd like to take you home now. Overseas, I mean. Maybe we could do Ireland, too.

I don't believe him for even a moment and so I smile and indulge his thoughts as he spends them out wistfully out loud against the wind. Dreams and magic are his only currency here. He knows it will never happen. He knows we'll die here on this point, sandwiched between spring and fall, between the angels and the devils, the living and the dead, the carnies and the gravemakers too.

I don't think I gave us any other choice.
Don't shoot me down
While I'm awake
They've set the traps
I'm gonna stay

So I need to know your name
I'm gonna stay
I need you to do the same

Monday, 18 March 2013

Same conversation, totally different subjects.

Stop staring. What is so fascinating anyway?

You are. 

No, I'm not. 

On the contrary. 

I finally resort to staring back. He is studying my eyes. Maybe waiting for them to change from faded glass-green to washed-out watered-down turquoise and back to green again. They do that, based on my moods. If you look on my bare back there's a switch you can flip to see them do it when you get tired of waiting for them to shift naturally.

 All I can think of is those years in between when I was very young and now that have caused my complete and utter disdain for my own appearance. At a glance I'm still pretty, depending on how fast you look or how drunk you are. Upon closer inspection age and time and circumstance and death have cast a slight pall, softening beauty into something else. I still have short legs, no ass and childish hands but now my eyes have lines from squinting, I have black circles under them that just won't quit, my hair is fading to ash and my translucent skin is striking, startling. The road map of veins across my chest, hands and legs precludes looking good naked. Naked, I think I look like a map of the human condition.

Or something small and freakish that belongs in a jar.

And scars. Not sure which ones horrify more, the surgical ones (from being too ridiculously tired and small to give birth to ten-pound babies without help), the permanent marks Cole left on me that he thought no one would ever find (everyone found them) or the little white checkmark directly under my nose from where I tried to impress Lochlan by trying out his skateboard. I hit a rock and french-kissed the pavement. I also broke three teeth during that little stunt, ironically.

(Because, you know, I somehow wasn't smart enough to remember that I had already impressed him walking a wire sixty feet up in the air in front of hundreds of people. Or waking a burning wire eight feet off the ground while hungry, while there was a price on my head.

I can do that. But a skateboard? I can't ride a skateboard, those things are deathtraps.)

Enough, I tell him. Stop looking at me.

Why? I could never get tired of looking at you.

You're so...weird.

You're the one with the checkmark on your face.

Wow, Loch. Pretty good coming from someone who burned all his arm-hair and most of his fingernails off trying to learn to juggle fire.

I succeeded though. You still can't ride a skateboard. Oh and everything I lost grew back. I didn't think your scar would be there forever.

It could still heal. Forever's not finished yet.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Wafer tumbler lock.

I have an incredibly detailed theory about how certain faces, places and melodies are keys that open certain parts of who we are. Souls are locked. Some keys fit, some don't. I'm not sharing it in detail here today but it's been on my mind a lot lately.
In the middle under a cold black sky
The sun will only burn for you and I
In the moment before I lose my mind
These hours don't mean anything this time
Lochlan is following me around, guitar strapped on, singing radio lullabies at my back as I try and ignore his understated selfish glee. He hasn't stopped smiling as he puts on a show to lift my mood. It's working. Sometimes he opens up enough, putting away the practical side of himself and bringing out the fun side. Switching easily from parent to lover. I just wish he would do it more often. I need it right now. Ben and Batman have gone to New York for a meeting and I'm not all that thrilled about it. Neither were they.

Caleb invited us over late last night (no envelope but no surprise either) and asked Lochlan what he wanted. What would make him happy. What should he change about his proposal to me that would satisfy Lochlan in particular. That was when Lochlan tried to speak but instead he started laughing.

Caleb remained on the other side of the kitchen island. I think he probably had weapons stockpiled to just below counter height. But Lochlan didn't stop laughing and so Caleb ran out of patience and said he wasn't going to discuss this until we could be serious. He walked to the door and held it open so we could leave.

I attempted to apologize for Lochlan's verbal paralysis but the giggles are incredibly contagious. The Devil merely rolled his eyes as we staggered out the door and back across the driveway.

I was asleep within twenty minutes, I think. I don't do late evenings so well sometimes now. I'm always tired and back to drinking coffee after lunch to try and beat back the early evening yawns and the massive crash that hits whenever I stop moving long enough to entertain it.

When I wake up with a start, it's pitch dark and silent, very early in the morning. Loch is awake too. He rolls up onto his side and kisses me, his hand sliding into my hair as he lifts my head up off our shared pillow. His arms tremble slightly.  His other hand slides down to my hipbone, grating against it with his thumb as he pulls me under him.We sleep sandwiched together so he doesn't have to bring me far. His heat keeps me simmering just under one hundred and three degrees. He is impatient, unintentionally rough and deliberately gentle all at the same time.

He lifts himself up on his arm, forces my legs around his waist and brings his weight back down. My breath comes out in a rush against his neck and his arms come up around me as he finds a rhythm that works with our song. Another key, this one involving perfect timing and a melody that plays in my head as he moves us. It fits. We move so much more slowly than most and I don't know if that's because it's just something we do or if we've figured out how to bring ourselves up to molten lava temperatures while barely moving at all.

In the dark I feel his face smiling against my cheek, his head ducked down, pressed against my hair, his weight keeping me right on the verge of hyperventilating, the song filling my ears and leaving everything else out.

Another kiss as he brings us through that motionless crawl, and I think I've died. If this is my final breath I'll go, willing and swift. Loved. But he is not finished yet. He winds me right out to the edge where I dangle over the earth far below us and then he pulls me in and I hold on to him as he peers down to check the surface of the earth too.

There isn't much to see down there. The clouds with their sterling linings have obscured everything and so we stay where we are, long out of breath, steam rising from our skin, pale curls raked across both of our foreheads, eyes locked in the dark.


When we finally release each other the cold air rushes in to cause shivers and I hastily crawl down to the bottom of the bed to pull up the sheets, the duvet, everything that wound up on the floor.

I drag everything back up and bundle down into the covers and he bends his head down, kissing the top of mine and he says to me,

This summer marks the beginning of my thirty-fifth year of being in love with you. I want to celebrate.

And then he falls asleep so fast I can't respond, and so I just lie there wide awake, my heart hammering against my hands, clasped against my chest. We should throw a party, I think to myself. We really should mark this somehow.

Wait, we just did.

Before I can stop myself the giggles take over again, quietly at first but soon enough my shoulders are shaking with the effort and the noise is enough to stir Lochlan awake. His lifts his head from the pillow and slurs,

Maybe someday we'll grow up and be mature enough to know when enough is enough. Go to sleep, Peanut.

That does me in. I don't sleep for the rest of the night. I just lie there in the dark and grin.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

They should have put DIFF ICULT somewhere.

When I came downstairs yesterday evening Duncan and Ruth were shaking off their coats in the back hallway. Ruth looked relieved and told me she went to apologize to Caleb for the email. She got Duncan to go with her for moral support or backup or protection or something, I don't stop to let my brain parse the possibilities.

What did he say? I ask.

Not to worry about it. That he tested the limits when he was my age too and he understands my position. What does he mean?

That he's smart enough to know you will always side with your dad.

Oh. Can I go to my room now?

Yes. Thank you for going to see him.

Tomorrow night he's going to do a sundae bar.

You're lucky, kiddo.

Ruth disappears up the stairs and Duncan waits until she is long out of earshot before opening his mouth.

Bridget, you're struggling with not projecting your feelings about being a teenager onto Ruth.

What do you know about being a teenage girl?

Sadly, not enough to have this conversation.

It's okay. It's...a long story.

You really okay Bridget? Maybe if you talked to me or someone, anyone, you wouldn't be strung as tight as drum all the time.

You want me to be loose?

That's a whole different conversation, ma'am.

I see you hiding in the palms of my hands
And I'd be afraid to let you go
But I don't see what my eyes are supposed to see
And I lost myself
Do you need to question everything?
 I woke up this morning covered in sharpie again. My knuckles say NOGH OSTS.  Loch's printing. Up and down my arms he scrawled validation in between my tattoos. Over my stomach he wrote promises he made to me that he's kept. He wrote backwards so I could read the parts I can't readily see in the mirror. He's thoughtful like that.

Written across my knees is a love letter, facing me so when I sit in a chair I can read the whole thing. It's in Ben's writing, since he makes things easier. It's beautiful and smudged and indelible and sweet. Lyrical. On my toes he wrote COUR AGEO.

I ask him where the US went and he said we're right here.

I am careful not to scrub too hard in the shower, only to rinse away the night with the washcloth and leave the words intact. On and under my skin. At one point I seriously considering having all of these words removed. Burned away leaving clean new flesh. Faded and barely remembered, words that once meant everything are now relics of a whole other life, stabs of pain, epic spells of insecurity. Regretful words. Do they make me who I am or was I trying to become someone else?

And then Lochlan said any time what's under my skin gets to be too much they would write new words on the surface but I could wash them off when I wanted. This gives me a little control when I feel like I don't belong in my own skin, when my self-esteem takes a dive and never resurfaces.

Because let's face it, I have none. No self and no outward. Which is why they patiently watch me set myself on fire from the inside out. The only thing I remember from last night is asking Lochlan if we could eat fire because I was drunk and it would be dangerous and impressive and then look, look how amazing I would be.

He shook his head and told me I already was but that it was sad I didn't believe him. I never believe him. I don't believe in much of anything these days except love and whatever other imaginary futures I can make up in my head.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Yeah fuck it.

She's got bigger balls than everyone.

The day just gets better and better. Caleb just forwarded this email he got from Ruth while she is at school:

I just heard the best joke!
Love is like a fart. If you have to force it, it's probably crap.


The subject line said "Team Dad". Excuse me while I go high-five my kid. Ahem, I mean give her a lecture on respect. Oh, who am I kidding?

Thursday, 14 March 2013


We're at Easter dinner with Cole's parents. Cole sits to my right, and across from me sits Caleb. Both brothers hold their fork the same way, between the middle and the index finger. I'm not sure when I noticed it, probably when I first started attending these holiday dinners a few years ago. Cole and I are engaged now and Caleb is finishing law school. His mother asks about the big dinner and dance after convocation. She is hopeful that he is going to work and study less and maybe date more.

I have a date for the dance, yes. I've invited a classmate. 

That's wonderful! Anyone we have heard of before?

No, her name is Sophie. She is a first year student. 

Will we get to meet her? 

I doubt it. It's just a dance, mom. Please don't read more into it than is there already. Wait for the burden of proof. 

It's just that you've got so much going for you. We'd like you to find someone to share it with. 

When I can convince the right girl, I would like to do exactly that. He stares pointedly at me and I ignore him. I am eating everything on my plate because we can't afford fresh vegetables or prime rib roast. I'm soon to be nineteen and I woke fifty hours a week and it all goes to rent and paint and film. Cole is in school too, though art school so far pays nothing. Caleb is twenty-six and has the most beautiful apartment downtown, close to the university. If you ask me though I will tell you I've never been there.


I help clean up the kitchen after dinner. Cole's father comes in to get new beers for the boys and he and Cole's mom have a hushed discussion by the sink.

Do you think he's gay?

Does it matter? I just want him to find someone and not be alone. 

I think he has. I just think he doesn't want us to know yet. But I can't figure out why for the life of me unless it's a man. 

I wish he would find a girl like Bridget. She's so helpful. They have switched gears. I didn't realize I had stopped moving to listen. I'm caught. I blush.

I'm sorry. I don't mean to intrude on a private discussion. 

Do you know anything about anyone he might be seeing? Has Cole said anything?

I don't-

Look, honey, I'm sorry to put you on the spot. Of course that isn't fair. Why don't you let me finish up, you can go spend time with Caleb. You and Cole hardly get to see him these days. I don't remember having to work this hard when I was your age. 

It's fine. We have big plans. 

You're going to be a beautiful bride. 

Thank you. I hope I can make your son happy. 

I fail to distinguish which one as she passes a stack of dessert plates to me, forks on top.


We're in my kitchen, finding more plates. We keep running out and I have switched to paper. PJ went to the store for me. There is hardly room to breathe. The memorial ended and everyone gravitated to the house. Cole's mother wants to serve pie to all of the boys so they can choke it back along with the first taste of mortality they have ever experienced. I wanted to leave Cole, I didn't want him to die. And I don't want to face his mother. Not now. Not like this, with Jake in the living room trying to wear all of his hats at once. Minister, backstabber, outsider, future.

I wish you would have just left Cole for Caleb. He's been in love with you since you were in pigtails. I knew a long time ago that you were the reason he never found anyone. He's done very well for himself. You should have maybe chosen him.

You would have wanted me to be the reason for your sons betraying each other and maybe hating each other?

You're right. But now there's no reason to hide anything. I think Jake would understand. He's new to the group of friends, isn't he? He won't be alone for long, that one. 

I stop and stare at her. I am horrified. I don't love Caleb like that. 

It might come in time. He has the resources to provide for you and the children. He can give you everything. In time, you might develop deeper feelings for him. 

It's so warm in the kitchen suddenly. I make my excuses and run upstairs. Jake follows but I don't stop. I run into the bathroom and am sick to my stomach. Jake bursts in and pulls my hair back from my face. He's asking what is wrong. What did I eat? What happened? I brush him off, telling him it was all the drinking I did after we left the hospital. That it's catching up with me now. He believes me.

When I come downstairs, Caleb's mother is still waiting for me. She says she's called Caleb and he's flying in in a few days, as soon as he can wrap up his immediate business in Toronto. He's so important he misses his only brother's service but now he's clearing his schedule?

My face turns white. I haven't even had time to tell Jacob anything. It's been a good three years since I've seen Caleb and things are finally settling down. I think we've put the past behind us but now it's going to catch up again. But all of that is a distant nagging fear in comparison to the sharp ache of death and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I broke Cole's heart and it killed him.

Part of me wants to be thrilled that I paid him back with such finality but the rest of me is too shocked to feel any relief at all. It's all caving in because I wanted out. And now she wants her only living child to be with someone like me? Don't people realize what I've done here? Can't they see how many mistakes I've made? The value that's been placed on my head is far more than I'm worth. I don't say anything to her in response to her announcement. Jake sees the pallor of my skin and sends me back upstairs to sleep.

Only I can't sleep. I watched Cole sleep and while he was sleeping he died. And right now I would give anything to have him back. He could fix this mess. Or at least make it less obvious that we made it.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Not waving but drowning.

Another day, another restaurant forcibly removes someone from the establishment after a table-clearing brawl. I picked up my glass and missed all the cues from what had been an almost civilized lunch thus far and the table came away from me as Lochlan threw himself at Caleb.

He finally found his outrage. I don't know if he was unfocused or distracted before. I think the shock of us moving twice in a week and then me taking the proposal (which still hasn't been explained in case you think I'm the harlot of the century here) left Loch a wee bit dazed.

Not today though. Today he gritted his teeth right through the food being served and then Caleb said something about again being glad I wasn't in my Converse All-Stars and BOOM.

I was going to ignore the comment, which was directed right at the one guy at the table who had All-Stars on. Green ones today. Allegiance to the Princess. He could only show more of a bent if they were pink.

Caleb has good reflexes and is six inches taller than Lochlan and probably thirty pounds heavier. He is in good condition. He won.

He was up out of his chair to meet the human cannonball and instead of blocking the punches he threw a few of his own and I yelled in alarm and five of the waiters ran over and pulled the boys apart.

And then the manager asked us to leave, that he would bill for the dishes.

Lochlan shook me off, heading out in a fast walk and I ran after him. Finally I caught up and made a grab for his arm. He spun around and threw himself into me, closing his arms around my back and rocked me in the middle of the sidewalk and asked me why in the hell I took the deal. We are 17 and 12 again. We need help and help isn't coming.

If I can't get rid of him I'm going to take everything he has. We are. You and me. Together. You know this. He pays, we win.

We didn't win, Bridgie.

Sure we did. Or we will, anyway.

He thinks he's a sanctioned third wheel now and I didn't sign up for that. 

Neither did I. 

BULLSHIT, Bridge, your conversation with him about the rules isn't fucking funny, it scares me! 

You were all for it when you saw the money. 

I can't do this. You won't survive it.

It's the only way to get to him, Loch. There's no other way.

Walk away. 

I'm not doing this with you. We're going in circles. Let me take his worth. Literally and then it will be figurative in the end. 

Walk away, Bridget. Or-

Or you will?

No. Fuck no. Never. 

Then help me here. Help me finish this. 

You're in over your head. So am I.

Yes but we're together over our heads! That's all I care about.

That's not enough. Not this time, Bridget. Remember? You're not a strong swimmer. And I'm so tired.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Taste less.

Caleb asks me if I've had time to construct a list of rules for him, to be fair. I haven't. I am so out of my league here, I'm not even sure which sport this is. I'm game for poking fun at the weirdness of our lives though. Freak flags and all that, fly 'em sky high. If anyone thought we were serious, I might correct them. Then again I might say nothing at all.

Do you have yours?

Some, yes, Princess.

Well, let's trade. 

Ladies first. 

I wait and then burst into laughter. It works for PJ but the joke is lost on the Devil. He doesn't think he's a lady, I guess. Deep breath. Fine. You have to listen to the safe words.

He reddens and looks at his shoes briefly. You have to say them. Out loud.

My turn to blush. No biting. 

No hearing aids. 

No Russians. 

No Converse All-stars. 

No Peyton. 

No husbands. And for the record, Peyton has nothing to do with this. 

She personifies high-risk behavior. 

As does everything I do. But I've never slept with Peyton so you have no worries. If you'd rather I didn't date then I won't. 

You did sleep with her. You told me you had needs. 

Right. Every now and then I'd like to have a conversation with someone who is over twelve, doesn't punch me before they hear what I have to say and doesn't fall asleep the moment they sit down with a drink. But no, I didn't sleep with her and if you're calling me a liar then I would like an apology.

Sorry, yeesh. 

Don't be. It's adorable that you're jealous. And that you fall asleep practically standing up.

Yes, so adorable you need to rent Peyton to offset the horror of it all. 

Do you have any more rules for me, Bridget?

I'll have to check and have my assistant get back to you. 

I have one more. 

What is it?

That we agree to no rules because all of these are terrible. 

Fine but if you bite me they'll kill you. 

Hey, if you don't say the words when you need them I might kill you first.

Big broken dreams and fresh tracks.

I know I tried
I was not stable
And flawed by pride
I miss my sanguine eyes
So hold my hands up
Breathe in and breathe out

So love the one you hold
And I'll be your goal
To have and to hold
A lover of the light
I don't think Loch even noticed as I held the button down until the song was so loud it drowned out everything else. He kept right on talking. Whatever he was saying he was earnest and convicted and passionate about at least.

Finally after five minutes straight as I tried to memorize the words, the music faded and he said, if he thinks you're going anywhere but straight on to heaven he's going to have to answer to me. You belong there, more than anyone else in this world, Peanut.

He took a deep breath, maybe the first one of the day and then he cocked his head. Hey, what song is this? It's amazing.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Uneasy listening.

I will try not to worry you.
I have seen things that you will never see.
Leave it to memory me. Don't dare me to breathe.
I want you to remember. Oh. (you will never see)
I need something to fly (something to fly)
Over my grave again. (you will never see)

I need something to breathe (something to breathe)
Baby, don't shiver now.
Why do you shiver now?
Lochlan made a playlist for me to listen to today. He's gone off with his portfolio tucked under his arm to a job interview meeting and didn't want me to be without musical direction.

But I'm actually not so sure it's for me, I think he might have made it for himself, but he left it up on the screen of his laptop so I would find it, so maybe it's for both of us.
  1. Learning to Breathe -Switchfoot
  2. When will you Breathe -10 Years
  3. Speak to me (Breathe) -Pink Floyd
  4. Every Breath you Take -The Police
  5. Harder to Breathe -Maroon 5
  6. Breath -Breaking Benjamin
  7. Breathe Again -Alter Bridge
  8. Billy Breathes -Phish
  9. I can't Breathe -David Gilmour
  10. Try not to Breathe -R.E.M.
  11. Teach me to Breathe -Soul Asylum
While he is gone today and Ben is working (DON'T EVEN START), Caleb thought today would be a great first day of the rest of our lives or something equally assinine. He invited me down to the boat for breakfast. I think he was incredibly relieved when we moved back to the point and he didn't have to scramble for a berth at the yacht club if he had to sell the property. Moorings are very expensive and the waiting lists are long. He cannot buy his place in line, therefore big headache.

I save him so much money, don't I?

So he offered me breakfast. But he didn't actually make it, he had it delivered. And he's starting to recognize that I have a mind of my own because he ordered...

Sausage and egg Mcmuffins! And hash browns! Not just two but four, because fuck one, I can eat two and I don't share. And their famously bad good coffee. I can't decide but I like it just the same. Take that, fourbucks.

(McDonald's on the water is probably as close to heaven as I will ever get, Jake. I won't end up with you. It was never in the cards, Cole made sure of that and I think we both knew it.)

When I was just about finished my breakfast, Caleb started in with the rules he will expect me to follow when I spend time with him.

It wasn't anything I haven't heard before. No surprises, nothing outrageous. All in all, a good day so far. Cross your fingers for Loch. He really wants this job. But you didn't hear that from me.

Or maybe I didn't hear that from you.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

I've felt the coldness of my winter
I never thought it would ever go
I cursed the gloom that set upon us
But I know that I love you so
I am listening to his latest effort while Zeppelin plays softly on the other side of the room. Ben has made the big headphones as small as they will go and still I have to hold them to my ears or they slide down over my jaw. They fit him perfectly. He has a big head.

The way he tells it I have a freakishly small skull that fits well in just one of his hands. I point out that my brain is equally smaller than the average human and therefore I must be more stupid than most and he nods very seriously. That's why you married me, he says.

Shut the fuck up, Ben.
Keep listening then, Bee.

So I turn away from him and close my eyes so I can feel the music, not physically this time. Oh my God. I don't know how he does this. It's beautiful and sweet but it isn't soft in the least. It's just as if he briefly makes himself transparent and allows us all to see. And then you blink and he's gone again and you realize you don't know a thing about him. I'm learning to deal with that part.

You want burgers? He's back to being always hungry, the weight he gained while he was in the states virtually falling off when he got home. That or it's the lack of a five-star chef here. I do my best but he's hard to keep satiated. Case in point, his hands slide down over my hips as I stand beside his chair and he pulls me into his lap. I'm hungry but not for food, Bridget.

The kiss that comes next leaves me lobotomized, loved. Ben's kisses fix everything. Had I known he was such a good kisser previously, I...huh, I have no idea but I don't pass them up now, I tell you.

His hands slide up under my t-shirt, under the camisole underneath to make goosebumps against bare skin. He's clearly starving here and I climb off his lap and try to pull him out of the chair to come upstairs with me. But when he stands up he lifts me up and slides my clothes right off and then carries me to the wall where I am pinned and left.

His breath is warm against the top of my head and my nose bumps against his chest as I am squeezed tighter and held harder than usual. He's tired. There's no finesse here, we're looking for comfort and familiarity and release. Polish can wait for another night, tonight is all about need.

 Just when the alarms begin to sound in my mind that he might actually break my bones through my skin with his hands holding me so tightly he reaches his turning point and then he backs away from the wall, slowly, still holding me, backing right down into the chair.

My little muse, he says, pulling me in against his chest. My legs dangle over the arms of the chair. I look like a reject from the Houses of the Holy album cover that is on the floor near the stereo.  

Is cold, I laugh in return. Jesus. It's freezing down here.   

What are you talking about? It's hot. Oh, wait, that's you. Haha. Hey, what are you doing? Don't put those back on.   

You want me to cook dinner naked?

Yes, yes I do.   

I don't think the boys would appreciate that. 

I think you're wrong, little bee.   

Okay, the kids. I don't think the kids would appreciate that. 

True. Here's your shirt.   

Thank you, sir.  

I'm not giving you back your jeans though. You look cute like this.

Oh, come on!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Earlybirds and albatrosses.

This morning I was woken up the same way he always used to wake me up back when life was all magic, no clocks.

By staring at me.

Watching me sleep. Viewing my dreams like a movie. Probably trying not to laugh because I snore when I'm stuffed up and I'm so stuffed up this morning and so worn out, jammed against Ben's chest, cool and safe, his arm down around me, his hand cradled under my head. My cheek is warm and stuck to the palm of his hand so when I raise my head up I look like I've been slapped.

Breakfast outside? Lochlan leans back so I can look out the window and see the sun reflecting on the water. No wind. Twelve degrees. Spring.

Yeah. Okay. 

Ben does not get up. Ben would sleep until dinner if we would only let him but I'll come back for him later and make him have breakfast outside too.

We take coffee and toast outside on the back step and sit down, plates on laps. We eat quietly. When I'm done I just sit and stare at the waves. Lochlan takes both plates, stacking them on the steps beside us and then he takes my hand and kisses the back of it.

What do you want to do today?

Drink coffee. Draw. Have a walk on the beach. Maybe see a show tonight?

What's playing?

No, I meant maybe you could do a show, if the wind holds off.

I could do that. He doesn't look so sure. 

But I don't deserve it. Right?

What are you talking about?

I moved us back here. I took the proposal. You didn't want me to do that and you've been angry ever since.


I do everything you don't want me to do. But you know what? I weighed the odds. I listed out the pros and cons and it's not as if I can just push him out of our lives. I have to see him every second or third day anyway and this works, you know? I like it here with everyone and I-



Stop it. I'm...disappointed I guess but I'm going to put my daughter and my love before my own feelings. I mean, if people want to say I sold out then that's fine. I'll have to bear that but his proposal was more of a tender to apply to stay in your life at any cost and everyone benefits from it, him least of all.

I could have refused. 

How? Bridget, the one mistake you've ever made in your life was in giving him an heir. 

Then surprisingly Lochlan was the one who looked as if he had been slapped because without thinking I reflexively reached out and slapped him for absolutely not saying that Henry was a mistake. My head knows better than that.

Oh my God. I'm sorry, Loch.

I should have said it differently. You know I love Henry. I just wish he was mine. I wish he was ANYONE else's and we could leave Caleb behind instead of carrying him. His weight burdens you. Everything just serves to keep us in the past. 

That's where the magic was. Right beside all the bad things.

No, Jesus, Bridget, magic is fully portable. We brought it here.

Prove it. I try to touch his face but he pulls back.

I've been trying forever but half the time you don't see it anymore. And I never had the guts to rescue you. I let you down so bad I don't think I deserve any of this room you've given me in your life. You don't understand the gift you have given me, the gift you are.

The slapping girl.  Woo. Lucky guy.

Heh. Yeah. Stop doing that. 

I'm sorry! Here, just slap me back and then we'll be even. 

I think I'll pass. Everyone already thinks I'm an asshole. 


The universe. You write the worst moments of my life down. 

And the best too. 

No. Not even close. 

What did I miss?

Everything, Bridget. Jesus, everything. You have no concept of my perspective on things. Moments I think you were maybe almost too young to remember or maybe just too...damaged to retain after all this time. I don't know. And I can't take a stand because I don't want to drive you away and...maybe we should change the subject. I'll try harder. I'll not withdraw when you need me. God. I don't even know how you slipped right through my fingers when I had everything a man could want. 

Bad things change people, Loch.

That isn't fair! They shouldn't have this much power. HE shouldn't have this much power.

Can we change the subject back to coffee and long walks on the beach now then?

He laughed. But there were tears too. Not big ones, just the quiet almost-tears that you have to know him to catch at all. You want a show tonight, I'll do one for you, Peanut. I'd do anything for you. I just hope you see that. I'm not here because it's easy living. Hell, it would have been easier to stay away. But I couldn't anymore. Do you understand that? I can't.

We're not good apart. I echo the words he said to me when he held me in the ruined camper after everything changed.

No, we're not good apart. He repeats and he knows exactly where I am in my head. Leave it there, Bridget. Come back to me here. Let's stay near the good parts of the story.

I'm trying but I keep messing everything up.

I know. Me too. 

Friday, 8 March 2013

Up. Tight.

Ben bought some new speakers this morning. When I stand on one of them I...

Well, I can't tell you what happens but you can probably guess what music that you feel (physically not emotionally) actually feels like.


By noon, there were three noise complaints from across the cove where our meany, homophobic neighbors live, the ones who disapprove of absolutely everything. So we got a warning from the local detachment to cool it. Just a little.

Also, I need a cigarette.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Lay it on the line.

I had a story for you about this song in particular but when I looked it up on Youtube to show you I was just so....thoroughly entranced by the red one-piece unitard and that hair that I forgot my story.

(Please note I didn't have cable television growing up and by the time I did this video wasn't in heavy rotation anymore, so today was the first time I've ever seen it.)

Just...take a minute and appreciate the glory of Canadian rock music. I can wait.

And for the record, every boy I know had hair like the unitard-sporting singer at some point or another.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Orbital resonance.

Hey, little asshole, he says softly. His face looks pleasant enough but his eyes look hesitant.

Hi big asshole, I say as I fight not to smile in spite of myself.

I need to show my face a little more? A little blogger birdie told me I've been missed.

Then maybe you should stop reading blogs in your soundproof cave and join humanity more often. 

Only if I can be sure this sort of guilt will always be present.

It's because I miss you.

I'm trying to keep my head on straight, little Bee. 

The wolves are getting in, Ben. 

Didn't mean to leave the door open, Bridget. 

I know. 

He puts his hand out and takes mine. I wasn't sure if I was going to give it so I'm glad I didn't have to decide on the fly. We don't fight so good, me and Ben. It goes on for days and weeks and we're merciless.

Do you feel vindicated? Are you satisfied? Will this make your nightmares stop? He reaches out and tucks my hair behind my ear. Will it make Lochlan's nightmares stop? Can we sleep now?

I hope so. 

What if nothing changes? 

It's already started to shift, Ben. You must have missed it.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Angel town.

Now, she feels safe in this bar on Fairfax
And from the stage I can tell that
She can't let go and she can't relax
And just before she hangs her head to cry
I sing to her a lullaby
I sing 'Everything's gonna be all right.
Rockabye, rockabye'
He really seems to want to keep his doll.

I'm not all that sure Caleb is sincere, though. I'm not sure if I would recognize an act from full surrender at this point but to help his case he had it picked over by both sets of lawyers and he cleared it with Ben too, who just shrugged and went right on back to tuning the guitar that is never put down enough to loosen itself out of tune in the first place.

(I need to address that but I've become a little bit paralyzed when it comes to Ben and so we leave him downstairs to his work and bring him food and wonder out loud what the hell he's doing now but he doesn't usually answer. And the weird part? When he gets like this he usually comes up with something wonderful at the end of his creative process. When he works for himself, not for someone else.

But it kills him just a little more each time in the process and hell, I've already died ten times over if we're keeping score because I hate that he's back and not present. But I won't abandon Benjamin ever so if you think the Devil's proposal was anything like the last one, then you can be as surprised as we were.)

Lochlan didn't say a word but I can see the doubt in his eyes. He wonders if it's an act too. He's afraid. I feel it in the way he crushes my fingers in his when he holds my hand. I see the way he came and stood beside me yesterday as I drew the tides in against the rocks with my heart, and he waited for me to tell him we were crazy. More than usual, I mean. But I couldn't because aside from Henry and I, the only thing that means anything to Caleb is his fortune and if he's willing to give that up to prove a point then his point is taken.

What Caleb gave me for a proposal was a big fat indemnity contract in which he will pay dearly for everything he has done. Nothing changes much on my end at all save for the fact that he will still ask me for my time, now and again. He would like a little attitude adjustment from all and a little acknowledgement too. He wants a little ground.Which means he's trying desperately to hold on to whatever it is he thinks he has, while he has it.

So I get the payback I wanted. We can fulfill our grand plans to take him for everything he's got and we'll do it with his blessing. Not exactly how I expected this to go down. I keep smoothing the contract out on my lap and reading it backwards and forwards and I can't see why he would do it this way but I'm too afraid to ask him in case he changes his mind. I'm too afraid I've misinterpreted the whole thing and I'm wrong about it. I could ask the closest lawyer to me to explain it but that right there is a really big conflict of interest, don't you think?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Deliberate introduction of the unexpected, or, more simply put, winning a war using the element of surprise.

Late gazes, window panes
And in the end they're not looking
No one gets to the wasted of mind
So insufficient this time
I don't think I noticed the cold or the rain until he put his arm around my shoulders and pointed out I was soaked to the skin and shivering.

I don't think I care, exactly and I came down here not to fight it out with words but to think it through inside my head. One minute I grasp a corner of bravery and a little excitement rolls over it, dripping off the edge and in the next moment despair tears it off in a jagged line, confusion soaking in and fear curling the edges like flames from fuel poured on dry paper.

Every time I jump someone gets hurt, I may as well just leave my feet on the ground, bound to the earth like tree roots on a cliff eroding into the sea. But in doing that I guess I made myself an easy mark.

I've picked off all my nail polish and bitten the quicks. I've punched holes in my lower lip for how tightly I'm clenching my teeth and I will never feel warm again if I stand here any longer. I can't feel my knees or my heart or my brain. It was probably never there to begin with. What's my name? Wait, don't tell me, I've heard it before. Bridget. Rhymes with fidget, rhymes with difficult.

Deep breaths don't work. The vodka didn't work. The sea isn't working. Nothing's working and yet the longer I remain here the easier it is to see that everything works just fine and it's me pushed all out of whack, bent out of shape, afraid of days that end in y and weather that features clouds, the letter J and running out of hugs.

Maybe none of it's scary in real life. Maybe it's just life and nobody cares the way I do. No one feels the way I do. No one understands who I am anymore.

I took the deal. I took it all. It wasn't even remotely what I was expecting and maybe that's how he'll win, in the end.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

This is not my life.

A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.
                     ~Muhammad Ali
That would be the most fitting quote for Caleb, who turns fifty today and has not wasted a moment of his life, save for the ones he spends thinking about what could have been but never would have been, since my life was as well-planned out as his, once upon a time.

Then he painted over my big picture, not with shades of grey, but with solid black. Taking the hopes of a small girl and poking holes in them until all the air ran out and they fell back to earth with significant thuds.

I still hear the echo when I close my eyes, and he is still trying to make it up to me, but in a fucked up, twisted, demonic way because he doesn't know any better. He's not a Good Human and I am not a small girl anymore with my balloon dreams lifting my toes off the ground. Nope, I've been shot down, torn up, cast aside and broken so many times since then his evil barely registers anymore, and I will hush Lochlan's dire warnings with glassed-over, unfocused eyes and a will toward self-destruction because then I can still feel something, anything, that isn't desperate love or frightening abandonment.

But don't ask me to name this feeling, because I don't know what it is.

The proposal was not in the stack of envelopes with my Record of Employment, my final paycheque and my severance pay (of which I did not earn and will return to his account). It wasn't in the pewter envelope, which listed a day, a time and a dress, and the initials of those he would permit to accompany me to see him.

And so I am home from our big dinner out and taking a moment to change into the dress listed, which I had to call and ask about, not recognizing the description. The doorbell rang and the dress was then delivered. A new Valentino, the first in a decade, made by hand to the measurements of the green Valentino dress he sent back to them to mimic fit.

The other dress was returned to me as well. It pales in comparison.  This one is breathtaking and ridiculously overpowered for me and red, ironically. It's like taking a Ferrari down the street when a bicycle would suffice.

I'm nervous. Did you notice when I'm throwing out all sorts of allegories I'm nervous?

Ben's initials were not on the card.

Loch's were.

This feels more like a Mexican standoff than an afterparty but I gotta go. Or rather, I have to talk Lochlan into going, if he can talk at all when he sees me in this dress.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

It stands for Xander and he hates it.

Fly me up on a silver wing
Past the black where the sirens sing
Warm me up in a nova's glow
And drop me down to the dream below
Before you come in, you have to pass my test, Caleb tells me with great amusement. I roll my eyes. So tired I feel like I've been drugged, and I'm not in the mood for whatever he's up to. Name the composer.

I listen intently. Shostakovich.

Bravo, Princess. Some days you make me so proud.

Few are as morose as he was.

Name another melancholy one.



Chopin! Jesus. Are we done?

No, Bridget. Jesus was not a composer, he was a prophet.

And a king. Don't think he didn't compose. Everyone with an overflowing head composes music to keep the voices drowned out.

Do you?

Of course. But my compositions are not set to music.

I'm aware. I suppose you would like your paperwork so you can go ahead with your grand plans to be steerage. Sorry for the delay. I was busy.

Steerage? Give it a rest. And yes, you're late with it.

On the desk. He turns up the music. The conversation is over. 

When I go to the desk, there is a stack of four envelopes tied with a grey satin ribbon monogrammed with his initials. CXC. Three envelopes are white, one is dark grey. My heart begins to make the long slow climb toward my throat but I fix my neutral smile, pick up the stack and turn back around.

He switches to Grieg (not morose) and returns my smile with a mischievous one of his own.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, 2013 edition.

Bear sightings #1 and #2 late last night, as two of the cubs born last spring (now a good 350 pounds each) broke down part of the side fence last night and made it all the way to the back door to investigate the recycling bins I keep outside by the step. Then they made their way to the garbage cans where they made a huge mess before Ben went out and scared them off with some growls of his own. We went out in the pouring rain and cleaned up the mess together, me casting a wary eye at the new hole in the fence every fifteen seconds or so.

Never a dull moment.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Update, because I know you've been checking back regularly.

PJ doesn't fit in the dryer.

Of course, I do.

Pineapple Express (five by five).

Maybe it's the neverending rain but everyone in the house seems to have become a little bit shack-wacky. I might be the worst.

This morning I pulled on my favorite old jeans. Then I checked the mirror and wtf. The jeans are too short. Maybe they're not the right ones so I ripped them off and tried a second pair. Same thing.

Oh my God. Could it be?

I push Ben out of the way and run past him down the hall and yell for him to hurry up. I stand very straight with my back to the wall, where the children's growth chart hangs.

So? So? I start jumping up and down.

Ben bursts out laughing. No, Bridget. Your head still stops at the 5-foot mark.


He's still laughing.

I'm never letting PJ touch my clothes ever again. Doesn't he know you can't put cotton in the dryer by now? 

I think maybe he did it on purpose just for that one shining moment. 

Fuck PJ and his fucking shining moments. 

I heard that!
PJ yells from downstairs.


The whole entire house laughed at that. God, we're something. I hope the rain stops soon or I might put PJ in the dryer to see what happens. I'll keep you posted.