Sunday, 30 June 2013

We're planning a trip to Tofino in a few weeks time and I was nailing down some details when I see this.

"Please note that portions of the Wickaninnish Sand Dunes are temporarily closed as a result of the possible presence of unexploded explosive ordinance (UXO)."


It looks so beautiful and harmless in the photo I took, doesn't it? Wickaninnish Beach easily took the title of Bridget's Favorite West Coast Beach. From the moment I saw it. I hope they find all the bombs because I'm going anyway and I'd rather wear a bathing suit than something from the Hurt Locker wardrobe department.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

He said it was a cotton candy.

Came back to get my pashmina. It's cooling off finally. So far so good. No roofies (the night is young). Just PJ and Duncan, our own personal bodyguards and we're on the patio because PJ wants to be a big thug tonight. Boy, is Satan mad that they're here.

Also JESUS. Butterscotch Schnapps. I could lick the glass.

A utilikilt and four torches.

That's pretty much how every sunny Saturday morning should begin, no? Unless you're the Devil, who breaks out a short-sleeved polo shirt (black) and then still picks up his cufflinks before remembering that he doesn't have cuffs.

It's like Crazy versus Sane, and I'll tell you which side I'm on but I doubt you would even ask, at this point, you would stand and watch as the show begins.

The Sane one looks crazy and the Crazy one looks sane. The Crazy one told me his personal goal for Ben's time spent away will be to make me fall in love with him. No, not with Ben, with Caleb because you can't just tell him no. That isn't good enough and he can buy the change required to make things turn out in his favor.

On the other hand the sane one (who looks crazy in his strawberry curls, freckles and red skin in a skirt and nothing else) uses luck and skill and things will turn out as they turn out and we'll deal with it as it happens. Also, Peanut, you look hungry. I'm taking you out for supper tonight because you need to eat.

Duncan and PJ got me smashed last night on two whole glasses of homemade something or other (strawberry cordial) and I'm still in my pajamas and it's almost lunchtime and I got sidetracked watching Lochlan practice and talking to Ben on the phone who needed me to relay some work notes to Caleb for eventual transmission to Batman because God Forbid I have to talk to Batman at this point. Or worse, Jasper. So I was fine to go over and get more coffee and the Devil frowned and asked why I smelled like bed and kerosene and I laughed and said none of his business but he makes it his business anyway.

He came outside with me and dropped a fifty dollar bill in Lochlan's hat that he only puts out for luck and he smiled tightly and said Lochlan could use the money to buy dinner for the lady so the lady doesn't have to pay and Lochlan didn't miss a beat, telling him he's about to take me up and have a shower with me so we can get going just as soon as he cleans up his mess. And then Lochlan winked at me and the flames got too close and I melted in the heat of the sun.

And then I got drunk on his fingers in the shower again and when we came out there was a pewter envelope on the table in the front hall.

After our dinner we've been invited down to have a nightcap on the boat. Hopefully it won't be more strawberry cordial. It will probably be roofie cocktails instead. Because Crazy doesn't play fair either.

Friday, 28 June 2013

This is the best.



There are FLAMES. It's like someone took Ben and Loch and mashed them right together in the wickedest way yet.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Contact.

Ben sent me this. Apparently they don't even take away phones anymore in five-star rehab:


So I sent him back this:


Yes, I know I'm awful but it's fucking funny.



How it's done.

Sam is playing Would You Rather with wedding details. It's six-fifteen in the morning and I'm not sure I've had enough coffee to do this right now only it's best, we have learned, to cram in as much wedding planning as possible when he is in the mood because then he falls apart again and throws himself headfirst into everyone else's problems and while he's an incredibly skilled counselor (thank you for Sam, Jacob, have I ever said that to you before?) he's a crying shame in his own right, terrified and watching Schuyler and Daniel with curiosity and longing. He wants a happy life, that's all, he wants a sign that he's making the right choice.

Matt walks in and Sam accosts him with two different plate designs, both in brown. Which one should we use?

Matt studies both of them for a minute and says I like them both, actually, so you pick whichever one you like most. 

My brain says, oh, a compliment followed by a complete abdication of responsibility but Sam just beams.

Matt winks at me and throws his curveball. Pretty sure he does that on purpose. I remember you saying something about the green plates though? Those would be nice. 

Then he leaves and Sam's cheerfulness strangles itself once again with doubt. I turn and throw my toast overhand at the back of Matt's head. It nails him and he laughs. It's a plate, Sam. I don't care if we eat directly off the goddamned table as long as you are with me forever.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Birdgirl.

I will only stop you drifting so far
Before the storm moved in last evening it was so warm and sunny and broiling that we decided to go for a swim, just me and Daniel, in our undies in the sea. The tide was going out so we could cross the beach to the little cleared area where we sometimes find the courage to venture into the water if we get hot enough, which rarely happens thanks to the perpetual breeze. But not last night. Last night everything was stilled before the storm.

I emerged with chattering teeth and a frustrated mindset. Nothing changes. He listens to Loch and never let me get out of arms reach. I never did become a strong swimmer and Loch remains paranoid and diligent around the water. The camper was and is a birdcage, only I can't hear myself sing.

***

Lochlan has one hand wrapped around my jaw, and the other clutching the back of my neck. We're having a staring contest in the dark. I will either win or melt but then he drives against me and my eyes close involuntarily. I can't win if he doesn't play fair. I move to turn my head so he doesn't look at me when I'm weak but he keeps it held in place. His lips find mine for a favorable response and I give it. Sharing breaths. Blocking words. Getting that confirmation where if nothing else, we're okay.

Are we okay? So many questions. So many endless changes. One minute he's oblivious and content in his ignorance, the next intense and dark with the weight of history. He's turning into Ben. Into Cole. I don't even know. Hearts blur into one big red puddle and we fight our way through, drowning in every conversation and he has begun to place time limits on my indecision and on my proclamations as if he can quietly, gently become Jacob and Caleb too.

Instead I just pulled my arms up around his neck and he tucked his face in against my jaw and we held on because that's what we do when we can't figure out where to go from here. He knows. I do not. He waits. I spend time like it's water, flowing through my hands. He suffers, I dissolve. Yes, we have this all figured out. There's only one thing we have figured out and in the dark that's where you'll always find me.

***

The Devil has a small army outside in the front yard just after sunrise and I'd like to murder him because my room is the closest to the front of the house and how freaking unfair to wake a light sleeper with unannounced machinery.

And then as the backhoe begins to cut in to the edge of the property he pulls my elbow so that I follow him back to the boathouse and he passes me what I think is a watercolor painting of a small Victorian stone patio with a high semicircular wall around it, built-in benches and a round table made of stone with a hole in the center for an umbrella. There's a tiny chiminea incorporated into the wall for heat. There are flowers all around the entire patio and on the wall above the table too. The trees form a sort of natural shade canopy and smaller stones are set into a path leading away from the space.I tell him it's pretty and he takes the rendering back.

I'm building this for you. Right now, today. A place just for you so you can write or draw or just read without interruption.

Why?

Because I know how much you miss your turret.

I nod and narrow my eyes. I'm not sure how he would know that other than I am predictable too. The turret was a glass and iron atrium at the very top of the castle. It had copper panels on the roof and stained glass below that and clear glass panels all the way around. It was unheated and frigid. And I destroyed it with my bare hands and they had to remove the frame because it would have cost too much to fix.

I've regretted that every second of every day since but I was angry and scared and alone and I just snapped and I wanted to bring pain with a capital P. I got it. The house would have sold for a lot more had I left it alone and I understand that now. Money is the bottom line. Caleb doesn't let me forget that. He says it's not important but it is or he wouldn't have so much of it to fill the hole from where I am not.

Where are the bars?

Pardon?

Nevermind.

Lochlan comes out front to see what the fuss is and I meet him to tell him about the patio, describing all of the little features from Caleb's picture. He nods and looks pained as he watches the men work and then he shakes his head.

This will cost him a fortune. 

But you and I can draw here. 

He nods and watches me watching the little backhoe climbing into the trees at the side of the house. Bridget, you know he's not doing this because he wants to make you happy. 

I know. He wants to up the property value. 

Loch just keeps watching me. His eyes squinch down into slits and he shakes his head as if he has water in his ear.  You don't really think that's why-

No, I don't think I'm that naive anymore. But he thinks I am and that's all that matters.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Saltwater fixes everything.



I'm looking forward to this fall. Another tour, a movie to go along with it this time (link added because for some reason the embedded video doesn't show up on devices) and a chance to immerse myself in something I love to pieces that is uniquely mine and no simply an extension of something the boys love. Kind of like writing. Christian is a tech journalist, Jacob was a sermonist and lecturer but I traveled fiction as my road and it seems as if when I can just bury myself in words on a screen and music in my headphones, things seem a little bigger than me, and my problems seem a little smaller, a little less terrible, everything gets a little more hopeful even as we stare down what is turning out to be a downright frightening, white-knuckle bend in the road.

When they come here this fall it will be my sixth show and I can't wait. I wonder if things will be better by then. I wonder if things will be the same.

Thanks for your sweet words and generous prayers for Ben. He needs them very badly and I will relay every last one to him as soon as I can. As for me? Don't pray for me. I don't deserve your faith.

Monday, 24 June 2013

I want to save that light.

How long will he be gone?

I don't know.

How do I feel?

I don't know.

Why is Caleb part of the good-guy brigade suddenly?

Jesus Christ! I don't fucking know. The only thing I know is that today, Ruth brought me a song. First one ever. She is thirteen. I was never what she is at thirteen. I'm in awe.
When the curtain’s call
Is the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you've made

Don’t want to let you down
But I am hell bound
Though this is all for you
Don’t want to hide the truth

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come



Sunday, 23 June 2013

Ten-second delay.

Batman flew in to the Cape to explain why he failed to mention he was the owner of the house that Ben borrows a couple of times a year.

I told him fifty times I didn't care. That he has nothing to do with me and that I would like Ben to explain this but Ben drowned his words instead and I never got to dry them out to hear, and Loch washed his hands of Ben and that made Ben feel worse and this cycle is now so vicious it has grueling, unchecked freaking rabies.

I stood with my arms crossed in the doorway and said Batman could give his excuses and then leave. He said Aren't you the little spitfire and I nodded because yes, yes, I am, goddammit and I'm tired of this.

It's my house, Bridget. He said it so gently I almost cried. But I didn't because like I told you, I'm tired.

Instead I grabbed my bag and DFW and we walked up the lane and into town and I sat down on a bench outside a tiny general store and I took out my phone and took the case off it and looked at the Visa Infinite (that I stole from the Devil) and I called him to ask if I could use it because I'm only a halfling-thief so here, we'll play tag across the planet once again but I need to move really fast to get my head clear.

I couldn't do it though because we need to be home. With the kids and boys. I want to be there, not here with ice cold Batman and Lochlan with his clenched fists and frustrated, breaking voice, who, you know, followed me down to the store and was standing on the other side of the entryway with his hands in his pockets, flicking his lighter, pretty much ready to shadow me as I run. His hair is tied back with a cord and he's in a white t-shirt and a pair of jeans and he looks like home only I don't know where that is and then Ben comes out of the store with a bottle of booze and bag of souvenirs, looks to the left at Lochlan and then he looks down to the right at me and he says,

We need to be home, guys. I'm fucked and she's going to bolt.

I nodded and hung up the phone before Caleb answered.

***

Caleb hands me a bourbon and lemonade and then strokes the bottom of my foot with his knuckles. He's sitting one step below me on the patio stairs. He and Henry had cleanup duty in the kitchen and that's why he's still here. I didn't even cook tonight, Duncan did. It was awful.

Where were you headed? He says after a minute. He's growing a beard. He's wearing jeans and a worn-out navy blue t-shirt and he looks nothing like he should.

The beach house. Then to August, if I could get in touch with him. Internet on their piece of the rock is ridiculously non-existent at best.

And what would you have done?

Pretended he was Jacob for the rest of my days. I down the drink in one gulp and let out a shaky, watery breath.

Wow. He says.

Tell me about it. I can't...I mean, I don't seem to be having any luck accepting that he's gone. It's like there's a black hole and he's in it, I just have to find him but when I go in, there's no light, no sound, no nothing. No Jake.

And August will change that?

No, but maybe he's as close as I can get to what I used to have. 

I think your mind is messing with your heart. 

It's the other way around, I swear. 

All of it served to be just more distraction. Caleb got me, Lochlan took the children out for ice cream and while we were being rewarded for good behavior with treats, the rest of them were forcing Ben onto a different plane so that he can go back and finish the program he apparently walked away from earlier this spring.

Walk.

Home safe and sound. I'll update my own life as soon as I stop holding my breath, living vicariously through my all-time favorite circus family. Hoping for no wind and steady cables.

http://skywire.discovery.com/

Update: if you weren't watching, then you've missed out. It was heart-stoppingly amazing to watch. Twenty-two minutes!! Praise Jesus indeed.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

POW.

Can you see my white flag from here? I mean, really. Can't you fucking SEE it?

(Turn off the stereo. We have to talk, and besides you're blindsiding me with my entire emotional map laid out in song. That isn't fucking fair of either of you.)

Batman owns this house, here in Cape Cod. I found a stack of paintings at the end of the hallway upstairs and I couldn't resist looking at them. Some of them were by Cole and I looked at Ben and asked him what he hadn't told me over the past five years. He just stared at me as he weighed which answers would provoke which results. Not sure he ever figured it out since he turned and walked back down the hall, away from me.

Ben is still under the wagon and Loch is still singlemindedly determined to take me apart piece by piece and then he can put back together his perfect summer girl as he remembers me instead of how I am.

Flawed. Surrendered. Surprised. Disappointed, demoralized and exhausted. This was not a good idea. This was not a good idea at all.

Wave that fucking flag high, girl, and maybe they'll come and get this over with.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Bishop and Clerks for three (bring them to the light).

Bring me home in a blinding dream,
Through the secrets that I have seen
Wash the sorrow from off my skin
And show me how to be whole again
Long before I finally asked him to revert back to his habitual self so that my lobotomy could still be successfully reversed, Lochlan dropped through a hole into a place he doesn't belong. The nightmares were back, the rabbit hole wide open, the mind behind a familiar face unrecognizable.

I don't care if you get it, I get it. He isn't like that with me. He can't be. He's just not wired this way so his attempts to make a strategic move only served to illuminate his completely selfish plan to edge Ben right off the playing field. It served to prove that the dark magician is still in there and oh, Jesus, no. Anything but that. You don't understand.

 As if we don't know Lochlan has been plotting this all along, right up until he gets everything all lined up in front of him and he's home free and then he gets scared, turns and disappears, like magic.

Like magic. I think I'll stick with the coins behind my ears and the fire routines because we can't survive anything greater than that.

So it's better if he just continues to be himself and not let himself go to places neither one of us are comfortable together. It's better if he does things his way and I will exist around him, doing what I need to do, and Ben will do whatever it takes to stay clean and sober and alert and present because he knows that's what he needs to do. Never mind the fact that I've tied an imaginary chain around his neck and am forcing him to be present because I refuse to commit to his absence any more. I refuse to watch him drink and self-destruct and I refuse to give up.

Yes, you heard me right.

And to that end Ben has planned a getaway (when the going gets tough the tough book planes) and as usual I'm not packing, I'm writing. I've got my hearing aids and my string bikini (one will not be worn with the other) and my big holey sweater, jeans and a windbreaker, my SPF25000 sunscreen and new sunglasses and we're taking our magician and going to Massachusetts, where it isn't warm enough for a string bikini, nor is it bright enough yet for that SPF when a 60 will do just fine.

We're going to have a bonfire and talk things out and figure out our future plans and apologize to each others' faces instead of ripping them off and spend a little time, which is easier to do without things like opinionated friends, overbearing millionaires and wi-fi,  though there's a bookstore in town that hooks me up for the price of a cup of tea so you might see me yet.

Otherwise you'll have to wait until the weekend and I will catch you up. Cross you fingers for us. As usual we seem to need prayers even though we are heathens and hopeless and bereft.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Unsealed on a porch a letter sat
Then you said, "I wanna leave it again"
Once I saw her on a beach of weathered sand
And on the sand I wanna leave it again
On a weekend I wanna wish it all away
And they called and I said that "I want what I said" and then I call out again
New hearing aids. Really really good ones. If you need me I'll be wrapped around the stereo listening to Eddie Vedder breathe.




Sunday, 16 June 2013

Father's Day.

Today I put on my happy face and honored six fathers, one stepfather and ten full-time surrogate dads/hunkles here today because the boys work so hard to see that the children have more than enough help, support and discipline to go around. They all always make time for the kids, no matter what else is going on and I am grateful and humbled by all of them for their efforts in helping me raise these amazing human beings.

I watch it and I am awed. I participate and I hold my breath as I realize the depth of the bonds they all share with my two greatest accomplishments. It's more important than anything else, as always.

So many times I wanted to open my mouth and continue the war but I looked at Ben as he taught the kids how to grill cheese sandwiches and saw the look on his face as they watched and listened carefully and I remembered that I picked him, not only for myself but for them too.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

12404.

That was my lobotomy moment. He was above me, and he had one hand around my thigh and the other was wrapped around the back of my head, pulling it up. I'm barely touching the bed and he's on his knees and oh, Jesus, I can't reconcile what he's doing and I'm still not sure why he's suddenly given up his perfect record of self-control but I like it and that's bad and he's ruining everything but also it's better and now what?

Now what?

Is the trauma past and he can let go finally? Is there a limit on how long one can be the way one is before you're reset only to have to figure life out all over again? Is this what midlife really is? My baby-faced carnival man is going to be forty-nine this summer. He looks maybe thirty-two, thirty-five tops.

Maybe he has started a countdown of his own. Maybe forming in his head right now as he winds me out and holds me down is a proposal of sorts. Maybe this time he'll get everything right.

What about me though? I don't have a reset button. I don't get to let go of anything. I can't shake the past, it follows me around like a six-foot-two Devil in a bespoke suit and it speaks to an evil I can't seem to escape.

And there's Ben. I'm not sure I want to escape from him, though he's all but shoved me so far into the corner right now I've stopped trying to fight my way back out. Yesterday I gave up. I fucking gave up on him and now is not the time for this. Now is not the time to take that leap, Lochlan, just hold the goddamn line and please don't try and stand on what's left of my heart because you'll fucking finish me off here.

Sadly Lochlan refuses to hear the words inside my skull and I'm not sure I want to say them out loud. I don't know how to tell him not to be selfish when I'm still chasing after Ben because I was pretty sure I could maybe fix someone in my lifetime. If it couldn't be me, anyway.

We just took the long way home, that's all, Bridgie. 

Friday, 14 June 2013

Intervals.

(Twenty-nine years, eleven months, and thirteen days.)

That's how long he waited before pulling the Ace down out of his sleeve, a sleight of hand trick you missed before you even realized you were concentrating so hard you weren't actually concentrating on the right things.

He's good and you don't put any faith in that. You can't be fooled. You can't be had. There are no surprises, you cry. It's all just smoke and mirrors. Anyone can do it.

A challenge, quickly dispensed with, and you'll walk away with a new appreciation for magic, because magic is real and now you know, he always says.

Except I've never seen a trick that took that long ever and I've seen them all, watching from the temporary, rickety steps with the bag of red licorice that he put into my hands to stave off the dinner-time hunger pangs. These steps are the emergency-door steps behind the Funhouse and this is where he practices his tricks in the mid-afternoon. When he grows up he's going to be a magician and I will be his assistant, because we needed a backup plan for the downtimes between school, the midway (which is so unpredictable) and the circus. I think we almost have it.

And I'm going to barf. I've eaten half the bag. It's so hot out here in the blazing sun but Lochlan likes to torture himself. He says if he can do the tricks under 'dress', he can easily do them in better circumstances.

(Later he would correct me and tell me it's duress, and it means someone doing something that might even be bad because they have been threatened by someone and will be hurt if they don't. Oh, I think I get it. Yes, I definitely get it.)

He brings me a bag of licorice from the store where he stopped and filled the bike up with gas because he's hardly been off it and it's not even his and I fret every time he guns it up the driveway, waiting to see him smoke the gate at a thousand kilometres an hour but so far so good and now it goes back to New Jake, who I think is getting anxious to ride.

Licorice still makes me want to barf after a certain amount, because I can never stop eating it. Once I ate the entire bag in one sitting and had to spend the rest of the afternoon hallucinating on the kitchen floor from the sugar sloshing through my veins.

Lochlan tells me four sticks only and sits down beside me with Jake's helmet in his lap.

How is Benji?

He's pissed and unruly and...I don't know, he's everything today, Loch. 

Want me to go talk to him? (I've been mostly keeping them apart. All of them.)

No. Not really. 

This doesn't work, Bridget. Any issues he has with me need to be fixed. I can't be responsible for how he reacts to stuff. 

I know this. But still. Why now?

You don't like it? I got the feeling you were pretty thrilled with me.

Why now, Lochlan?

Because I was trying so hard to make your life magical, Bridget. I wanted everything to be bright lights and magic and make believe. I wanted it to be so beautiful and Caleb and Cole took that all away and taught you that life is painful and violent and frightening. I just want to bring things back around. I won't let him win this. I just..I just want to show you that you don't need anyone else.

All for one, is it then?

I don't know, Bridget. This isn't sustainable. 

That's what Ben said this morning. 

He's right! Jesus, he's so right.

I take another stick of licorice and he pulls the bag out of my hand and stuffs it into his backpack. He picks up the deck again in the blazing sun and asks me to choose a card. Any card.

But I can't because my stomach hurts. He fishes the Queen of Hearts out of the collar of my shirt and tells me to come on, we'll go back to the camper now and he'll put the ice in front of the fan for me, and that next time to listen when he tells me how much licorice to eat.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

(I'll try to carry off a little darkness on my back, til things are brighter.)

(That would be Mr. Cash, if you're inclined. And we're okay right now).

I'm lighting torches and laying them down on the patio. One after another after another. Ben sits scowling directly behind me on the steps. I have him on a proverbial leash and he must follow me around as I scowl, dragging my dark cloud along over our heads. Head to toe black for each of us and I'm not sure who is pulling off the fiercer look. I would say him. I'm too small to make anyone nervous except in this way. I'm mad. I'm really, really mad and the only way I can keep everyone at bay, away from us is with fire.

Again, how fitting.

I'm so mad I haven't actually spoken to Ben since Monday night, except to order him around. I haven't acknowledged his threats, given in to his pleas or given up on his dismissals. I wish he would stop talking some times. I wish he'd stop being silent too. I wish he'd stop being funny and sweet in between moments of failure and despair. I wish he could turn his ego off with a flick of a switch. I wish he wouldn't say one thing and do something else. I wish sometimes that I didn't love him so I could just walk away.

He's said more than once that I should. Just go already, walk out. Don't come back, cause he won't miss me. Don't look back cause he won't watch me leave. Don't cry because he's not going to shed any tears.

I put my head down in my hands and let the words bounce off my skull. I hear that's the thickest part of me, according to sources who know these things. I could still feel it though and it hurt.

I finally looked up again and I leaned back against my heels and I told him to shut up and he laughed and said I was amazing.

Yes, I am. So if you want to be with me you'd better work hard to be amazing too.

He laughed until he cried. No, literally.

Caleb picked that moment to come up the steps from the driveway and he saw the imaginary leash and the heavy black clothing and the ring of fire and our expressions, hung right out to dry and he rolled his eyes and said For fucks sake, can you two be normal for five minutes? 

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Afraid to fall.

(People seem to like the sound I make, screaming the whole way down, so here. Take it and just fuck off, please.)

I tried not to seem bitter. I tried to be nice. I tried to stand behind the door and watch as they've carted him off and made excuses and put up a wall and then I tried to make do. I tried patience and understanding too. I tried on acceptance but that doesn't even fit, it's huge and I would just fall right out the bottom and then I tried the last two things on the list and I think maybe they might be presentable.

Enough so that no one stares, at least.

Bravery, of course, and fear.

Oh, Jesus, golly, that's such a big one, that fear. I don't like that one at all but sometimes it works for me in ways nothing else does. I mean it works for us, for him.

For him.

Idiot-Benjamin.

Lochlan tried to steamroll me right out of the proceedings. Sam tried to jump in with both feet, this is his specialty and since he's in house, why not? But no. Go plan your fucking wedding, already, Sam, you're hammering Matt right into the ground. And Jesus Christ, Loch, you know I love you but you know I promised to be here for Ben in ways that trump just about everything else and hell, I never said 'forsaking all others' but right now come to think of it, he does need me a little more than anyone else does. Right now.

So I'll fix him, because nothing else is working.

I already forced him to get the fuck out of bed and go for a walk and then I made him eat and then shower and shave and wish the children luck. Ruth has exams today, Henry has a street hockey tournament and fucking Christ just stay busy.

Fix the shelf in the bathroom, help Daniel with the painting. Fucking take this book and read it. Make your wife a cup of coffee because Lord knows she hasn't slept and make a phone call and talk to August for a little while and then I will and we'll keep the pressure off Sam and we'll keep the children in the dark and we'll fight off the Devil and the superheroes too and we'll just stay here together and get you better. 

Yeah.

We're in the double-digit hours already. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

It was a division of the night, into two distinct parts. His was all that mattered as he pulled my hands up over my head and caught them with one hand firmly wrapped around my wrists. I remain still and breathe. This is not how this one works. This one doesn't stray so far from straight-up missionary fucking and this one doesn't restrain me unless I'm determined to hurt him and this one never goes to dark places, preferring to light a match, flick a lighter or lick a torch until the dark is pushed back into the edges, retreating smoothly and without hesitation.

This one doesn't like to hurt me, not even to pretend.

And I know he won't but then his teeth catch on my bottom lip and the unholy sound that erupts from deep within his throat give me such a little thrill I mentally chastise myself for being so goddamned predictable, depraved.

Tell me what you want, he pleads. No, wait, it's not a plea, it's an order and Little Miss Depraved kicks into high gear with her endless list while Little Miss Fragile lies there and smiles.

***

Trust has become a four-letter-word, spit in any random direction hoping to land a blow, traveling on the wind. Ben sent me a series of messages from downstairs and I knew what he was up to before I saw him, finally, when I went downstairs to see him. I can tell by the subjects he brings up.

Ben, you promised us. 

He's doing what he's always done, sitting slouched way down in the armchair, all knees and elbows and cheekbones and big brown eyes and he's not wrecked but I know he wishes to be. He takes a sip and then slams the glass back down on the arm of the chair. Some of it leaps out and coats his forearm and some of the chair arm but he makes no move to wipe it off or apologize for the mess. He points in my direction with his free hand.

I promised you, he says. He's lucid. The glass is full. I look around for the rest of the bottle so I can see where he's at and he reaches over the other arm of the chair and pulls the bottle up by the neck. It's full too.

This is the first drink, Bridget. Why don't you go get someone for me, okay, Bumblebee? This is not for you to handle. 

But maybe it is. Maybe things have to be different. Maybe we can't keep going in circles. Maybe we can't keep building up the towers to knock them down. Maybe I'd like to use my instincts for once.

I walk over to him as he covers his face with his hand and I take the glass away from him. He watches as I drink it, the whole thing at once. I gulp it down until it's empty. It burns. Oh, Jesus it hurts so bad I think it might have dissolved my knees. I start choking and coughing but I still grab the bottle and I turn it upside down, pouring it all over Ben's expensive soundproof carpeting.

He watches. He doesn't even try to stop me.

It's the first drink and the last drink, Ben. I want you to keep your promises just like I keep the ones I've made to you. If you do this again, next time I'll light the carpet on fire after I soak it in fuel and I'll burn down your whole fucking life. 

I think someone already beat you to it, Bee. 

You want to know the funny thing? I know better than that. He didn't make you pour a drink. You did that all by yourself.

Monday, 10 June 2013

I posted this a little while ago:


But then Ben sent me this:


He wins.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Six Pine Trees.

The preacher uniform seems to be a white shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbow and ancient jeans. Brown leather shoes, but at the last minute because we hate shoes, you see.

 I know this because both the preachers in my life sport the same outfit most days.

Well, they used to, I suppose.

Sam shovels cereal into his mouth at a pace that might cause me to look away if not for his own expression, which is not at all relaxed like usual. He chews noisily and swallows, takes a sip of coffee and then one of juice. Then he holds out a spoonful in offering and I take it. He shovels another into his own mouth. Now we're both staring at each other and chewing noisily.

He finishes his bite before I do and tells me he's getting more terrified and overwhelmed with each passing moment in planning this wedding and he's no longer pretending it's cold feet.

What is it, then?

Maybe it's a sign.

If I told you it's normal and then it's a relief once the ceremony is over would that make a difference?

What if it doesn't?

They have annulments for that but I don't think you're going to find a greater man than Matt.

What if I don't really want a man?

T-Rexs' arms are far too short for this to work. And alpacas are so filthy, Sam. 

Bridget-

If you fuck up the best thing that's happened to you in a long time, Sam, I'll never speak to you again. 

His eyebrows go up and he says, The most fascinating thing about what you just said isn't that you can make idle threats so easily but that the thought of you carrying this out would be a literal death sentence and I would cease to breathe, never being the same again.

You're one of the few finding a life in this mess of what Jacob and Cole left behind, Sam. 

I made a mess, too, Bridge, the first time around. And Matt is too good of a man to risk ruining. 

So don't ruin him. Make him happy. 

I see the light leak back into his eyes, which crinkle up quite beautifully as my words soak into his brain. We've had this conversation before, Bridget. 

I know we have. You have to go or else you'll miss your own service.

Coming today? 

No, you can give me a synopsis later. 

I can give you one now. Leave it all in His hands, and let Him carry the weight sometimes. 

I tried but I couldn't find Him.

Then you didn't look hard enough. 

 Great. I can be the little deaf and blind heathen. Now go take your own advice.

You're something alright. I will see you this afternoon, unless I don't.

Bye. Did I mention I love having you here? 

Did I tell you I will never be anywhere else again?

No! You didn't, but you totally should because I would like to hear that. 

Then I will tell you later, because I'm going to be late if I tell you now.

Sam gathers up his messenger bag and his blazer and phone and kisses my head before rushing out of the kitchen. Church starts in eight minutes. It takes twelve to get there.

Caleb looks up from the newspaper. He is sitting at the table waiting for the children to take them out to brunch. He folds the paper closed with a practiced snap and smiles thinly. I see that the legacy Jacob left for Samuel is in the way he speaks to you. 

What do you mean?

With each passing day, he talks more and more like Winnie the Pooh. I'm surprised you didn't notice this before.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

We settled on cheese and bread and whiskey for breakfast and pretended to paint the sunrise as it appeared on the horizon but really we were liars and fakers and thieves, until that whiskey dissolved the lies and uncovered the truth, set against a cool morning tide, wind roaring in our faces as we split the last piece of smoked gouda.

Lochlan ate the heel of the loaf of bread too, even though I wanted it. He took my glass away after two drinks and told me I still need my bangs cut and I dissolved into barely-inebriated frustration.

What's wrong? He asked and I lied some more to see if I can craft a poker face out of fake smiles and thin skin.

I'm cold.

He pulled his sweater over his head and stuck me right through it. It smells like turpentine, kerosene and Old Spice. It smells like Cole but then my brain reminds me that Cole smelled like Loch, save for the kerosene.

His eyes smile at me and it's hard to be mad. Really hard, as it always is when he switches those gears from parent to first love.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Simple tasseography.

He's sipping on a coffee on the patio, just out of the sun, where the shade begins from the overhang. The backyard is a blown-out, nuclearly-bright point that crumbles to dust in dry weather and sharpens in the rain. The orchard has no shade either. The boathouse is in a lovely stand of hemlocks and cedars and there's virtual wooden darkness out front except for very early in the morning but that backyard, man, it's just overly warm now.

I suppose that's why he's not wearing a shirt. He's warm. Lochlan does not sweat, he just turns red-hot from the inside. He glows like an iron in a fire. I only wish for that strange talent as I scrap my bangs off my forehead from where they are plastered and vow to burn these flannel pajamas just as soon as it's cool enough for actual fire.

I only put them on when I got up because they were hung on the hook on the back of the bedroom door and I had to wear something presentable. I'm sure I wouldn't get objections if I didn't put them on but that's neither here nor there, now, is it?

In a similar train of thought, I guess that's why Loch is wearing his navy blue board shorts and nothing else. They were probably within reach. The color just highlights his hair as the curls on top have changed to honey and strawberries and the ones underneath remain the color of the darkest orange maple leaves for now.

He looks delicious and I'm hungry because I was busy and I eat breakfast at nine but there was no bread left and I didn't feel like having Shreddies or fruit for that matter. I could have dispatched someone to fetch an egg mcmuffin but just as likely they would have told me to get it myself. That's a useful, bitter order when one is pretty much bound within these property lines as it is.

I could have called Mike to take me to the McDonalds in the city but God, what a waste of gas for one person's breakfast.

I have just decided I'll maybe gnaw on Lochlan for a while when he tells me New-Jake has lent him the Sunbeam for the weekend.

Oh, that's a great idea.

Have one better? He asks, smiling. Not like you won't be invited. 

I grin. In that case, be careful? 

Always am. 

Liar liar pants on fire. 

I don't tell anything but the truth. 

Oh my God, you even lie about lying, Locket! I poke him and grin. This give and take used to be normal. It's a nice change from our usual strung out declarations and emotional undertakings. This is levity.

It feels so good he feels guilty and ruins it instantly, lest I take the wrong things seriously. So many years and he still doesn't trust me to know how to react properly since I have grown from a little kid with a little instant-gratification brain to an adult with...okay nevermind. The point is he stops smiling and tells me he's not leaving this earth without me.

Oh. This earth grinds to a halt and almost throws me off in the process. Gravity intervenes at the last second, channeled by his eyes, which have leaked all of their mirth down over his skin and all that remains is sadness and devotion.

You just...had to do that, didn't you?

I learned from the best and now I can't help it, he says and his eyes continue to project their heat shimmer as I try and breathe through my choked-up throat.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Rock- or Metal-tarts would have been so much cooler.

Old mister fun is back
Wonder where he's been hiding at
Hanging round the edge
Walls unfortified, inside
No different, patchwork hack
Toil away on an unlaid track
Falls closing in, got nowhere to hide
This time
Finding ceilings low
I'm too big or this room's too small
Why's my ceiling another's floor
Christian is writing, writing, editing, working and I've done nothing but distract him for a good ninety minutes, chattering about damned near everything, showing him different boats and what I think are whales but are probably waves because I'm not good at this, I find the binoculars big and heavy and even propping them on the table isn't a great solution but Christian is impatient and frustrated and finally he says,

Bridget. Get a chair. You look ridiculous.

Oh, well, why didn't you say so?! I don't think like the rest of you!

I see that. Need a Pop-tart?

I stare at him. I can't think of a comeback.

***

Christian used to babysit me when I was eight. Mostly because Lochlan was above that and Christian was happy to make some money for what he considered an easy gig. Except the first time he did he put a movie that his family had rented into their VCR. He figured he could keep me busy that way.

Ah, the brilliant ideas of teenage boys. The movie was Halloween.

By the end of the movie I was behind him on the couch, covered with pillows, shaking like a leaf. He turned the television off, turned and stared at me with wide eyes before putting on his adolescent bravery and he said,

Need a Pop-tart? (As if Pop-tarts could solve everything.)

I chose strawberry and then asked if he had the second movie, so we could find out what happens next, because it didn't actually end, just hanging like that. Look who's brave now!

That's called a cliffhanger, Bridget. You want the other Pop-tart? He holds out the wrapper.

Yes. I take it but I can't finish it and he takes my offered remaining piece and stuffs the whole thing in his mouth.


***

I shake my head. It's too early for pop tarts and besides, they make me feel sick now. Probably because they are cardboard with sugar frosting and I'm getting too old to be fooled by those kinds of things.

But now Gage won't get his chin off the ground. He points at Christian and then at me.

He used to...babysit you?

Sometimes, yes. 

Isn't that weird?

Would have been weirder if it had been Lochlan, Christian laughs and takes a bite of his Pop-tart. They don't make him sick. Lucky guy.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Out Shine.

Ben met me halfway up the basement stairs after a cryptic SMS sent me flying down the steps. It was eleven at night and he had come home, shown his face at the table, wolfed down a plate of food and disappeared to the basement to finish something up. He said he'd be an hour, ninety minutes tops. This was at six-thirty.

Right. 

When he meets me, he says, Oh, what's that, bumblebee? Your phone's dead? What a shame! And he throws it over his shoulder. I hear it hit something and bounce to the floor and he tilts his head in that weird intense gotcha way that makes my knees kind of buckle and he scoops me up and carries me down to the studio.

Which isn't a studio anymore, it's a campsite.

With a tent. Our six-person tent set up in the middle. No lights but three battery-powered lanterns are on. The portable electric fireplace plugged in and flickering nicely (lights, no heat). He's projected stars onto the ceiling and set a soundtrack of loons, crickets and lapping water.

And an ice bucket with champagne because as I have said many times before, Benjamin has no idea what to bring on a camping trip. He had called for pizza too, it was sitting on a blanket in front of the open tent. He shivers and laughs and tells me (pretending) that the lake was really cold (yes, it was) and that we need to start over (yes, we do) and boy is he hungry (so am I!) and just like that he resorts back to the quavery-earnest hilariously non-serious Ben that I fell in love with.

This..is....

Something Jake would do. I know. I was witness to some of his outstanding romantic gestures. It's okay, I can take it. But he squeezes his eyes shut and ducks his head down as if he's about to be lambasted. But he's not.

...incredible. I love this. Ben. I freaking love it.

He opens one eye doubtfully and grins. Then he passes me the whole pizza box and I take a slice and fold it New-York style, like he's taught me.

Ghosts don't go camping, Benny. 

Sure they do. Especially when you wear them on your shoulders like a backpack. 

Ben-

I dropped the ball, Bee. 

Yes. Kind of. 

I'll make it right. Is it too late? Do I have a shot? Can I...crawl back into your heart with some bubbly? He pops the top and pours two flutes and passes me one, clinking his glass against mine before drinking all of it. He puts it down and I look at it. Then I look at him and wait for him to detail his promises in full.

It's non-alcoholic, Bee. 

I know. 

How did you know?

I trust you. 

It's also Christmas. Thank you, Santa, he breathes. You gave me exactly what I wanted. She's beautiful. And a perfect fit. 

Monday, 3 June 2013

What it's like to still be twelve years old.

(It's not your eyes.)

Lochlan buried all of his own bravery and determination in the cornfield when I was a child and can't stick to his own beliefs anymore. Push him just a little and he wavers and gives up. He hates that about himself but he's learning to find the will to push through, to put his foot down, to risk anything at all. I think sometimes I got off rather easy, and Caleb scared him more than he scared me. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's what happened, because I've been mowing him down ever since. He won't put up a fight with me very often. He's mostly paralyzed. Injured. Wounded. Scarred. He used to make all the decisions, he controlled the sun and the moon and now I'm learning celestial mechanics on the fly to try and keep the universe going while he lives in his own world in which he knows things are wrong but not what to do about it. He struggles to put aside his doubt  in order to be a good father. Every moment he fights to not show Ruth his flaws. She accepts them anyway, same as I do.

 Cole used to have three brushes on the go at once. One behind his ear, leaving paint on his chestnut curls, one in his right hand, creating magic on the canvas and one wedged tightly between his teeth to bite down on when it hurt too much. Painting was catharsis for him, therapy, release. He would come to bed at four in the morning, turning on all the lights so that he could find me and I would open my eyes long enough to make note of the placement of catastrophic smears of paint that he didn't bother to clean off before sleep. I woke up in the most violent hues. My skin was always raw from showering in turpentine. We threw away a lot of sheets.

Jake had a thing about hot food. Everything had to be broiling. I don't think he ever ate a salad or an ice cream cone in his entire life. He sort of spoiled me rotten in that respect, as he would disappear each morning and come home with fresh warm bagels for breakfast, or McDonalds (!), then we always had soup for lunch and at night I spoiled him right back with hearty stews and casseroles and barbecued goodness. Later still in the nights he
would heat up cake in the microwave. I still do that to this day. Not sure what it was but seeing as how I visited the tiny hamlet where he grew up in Newfoundland I'm guessing he was always cold and this was a comfort mechanism. It worked wonders, in that regard.

Caleb had some sort of grand plan for himself from the day he was born and he has steamrolled his way through life to get there. He's isolated himself from everything and everyone, depending on Cole and on me when he wanted company, now paying for those choices dearly when his brother died and I refused to give him the same loyalty I afford to Lochlan. It's the one thing he can't buy and it's driven him mad enough that he's now getting sloppy, making business decisions with his heart instead of his mind. He's slipping at last and I like him better fallible. I like him when he tries to be human. It's refreshing and strange. And I must refrain from vilifying him so much now, since I gave him a son. He can't be that bad, if he gave me a child like Henry. Henry is love and for it, Caleb has changed. He's finally human.

Ben is trying. His hands shake, his mind isn't clear but he sometimes wakes up sober, at the bottom of the well, ready to climb out for another day and work towards staying above ground. He's too big to be so unsure, too heavy to be as graceful as he is, too nimble to be so physically strong and so emotionally wrecked. My sun rises and sets by his rare smiles, and when
I take his hands in mine and squeeze them he is grateful for the lull in trembling. I'll be strong for him. We take turns. Right now I've got everything going sort of okay so I can be the one to take the bullets and he can be the one to take cover. At some point we'll trade. He's the strongest and the most fragile person I know. They say that about me too, so it stands to reason we would work best together. I can't lift him but I can hold him up, I say. And he says that he can't fix things but he can hold me while I try.

 I look at this table and I don't get why no one walks away. I pushed and I threatened and I did every single thing I knew of to test them and no one budged. I have fought, tempted, struggled and failed. I have loved. I have tried so hard to sort this out.

Five massive personalities with strength beyond belief. Giants. Tyrants. Legends. Heroes. Villains. Magicians. Gods.

Now three are left.

I'm amazed they all share the same single weakness. Amazed, but not surprised.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

And I'll be waiting for you there.

This is for long-forgotten light at the end of the world
Horizon's crying the tears he left behind long ago

The albatross is flying, making him daydream
The time before he became - one of the world's unseen
Princess in the tower, children in the fields
Life gave him it all: an island of the universe
Lochlan fixed the dryer, Ben fixed my hearing aid (at least temporarily but as he pointed out, I'll yank them off after twenty minutes anyways), we threw the moka pot in the recycle bin and decided to bounce between the big coffee maker and the fussy french press from here on out, and I didn't drink any wine or draw any pictures at all.

Instead we went out for a fancy dinner (which does not include carrying our own food to the table and sometimes that's nice too even though it's hard to beat french fries in one's cupholder, which is not at all a euphemism for anything, Padraig) and came home to watch Cloud Atlas, which is a masterpiece, and you should see it if you haven't yet.

It's not as complicated as Inception nor is it as esoteric as The Fall (my all-time favorite movie besides Across the Universe). It's beautiful and fractured and fucked up and perfectly fitting together and difficult and easy all at once. I had a hard time with parts of it for obvious reasons, which I never expect and then there they are, and incredibly graphic besides. But I'm not sorry I watched the movie because I know the difference between real and not real and I'm working hard to not personalize every death, every leap, every decision just because it's happening on a screen/in a book/throughout a song.

I could bury my head in the sand but I won't. I can't.

Today we've shifted our plans to painting, bourbon and cake on the beach, because it should be less girly and more rustic, Loch said. I pointed out cheese is far more rustic and manly and what in the hell is he talking about but he said cake is manly enough and it will do fine.

Yes it will. It always does. Pretty sure he changed the menu to cater to me, and not the other way around. They do that. They'll choose something I want and then act like I'm doing them a favor and I figure it out later. It all works out in the end, just like movies by the Wachowskis.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Twelve hundred dollars worth of bits and pieces.

So far today, I have broken the moka pot, the dryer and one of my hearing aids.

PJ and Ruth had a mini-standoff,  Lochlan had a one-sided shouting match with Caleb and Matt and Sam abruptly stopped planning their practically non-existent wedding because Sam is having a busy week with other weddings, ironically.

Matt closed the folder that Sam left on the table (without the selections marked that Matt asked him to do in choosing certain aspects of their day) and put it in the recycling bin. He gave me a tired, half-bitter smile and said not to say anything, that he takes it in stride as one of things he loves about Sam, that they'll work it out next week when Sam's schedule levels out.

What do you love? His devastating vulnerability and indecisiveness? 

Something like that. Matt laughed.

Lochlan is standing at the counter watching us and sort of stewing in his own bitten-back anger from his morning's completely unresolved altercation.

Sam is the male equivalent of Bridget, Lochlan says abruptly and Matt nods before catching my expression. I turn my jaw slightly to the left and gaze at Lochlan steadily.

Matt whispers Sorry in my face and kisses my cheek on exit. He's heading downtown to run some errands and meet some extended family for lunch. He finds the difference in his weekday schedule versus Sam's end of week+weekend one a little tough but he doesn't say anything because here it is Saturday morning and where is Ben? Sleeping, because he worked around the clock all week. If I'm lucky I'll see him tomorrow when he wakes up.

At least, I hope I will.

On a good note, Gage is loving living here. He loves watching the drama, the waves and the giant movie screen. He loves the wildlife (bears AND coyotes yesterday, two apiece) and he loves the food, though he's incredibly handy at cooking and on a weird schedule that sees him hungry before I can even think about cooking. He loves the people. He's also good at knowing when to leave a room. He salutes and follows Matt out of the room and Lochlan comes around to help empty the dishwasher.

Could you wait until Caleb is back to at least 75% capacity to rip him apart?

Could you not cave in with your heart on your sleeve the moment he drops below that? 

Fine. 

Fine. 

Great day. What do you want to do?

Go down to the beach, draw, drink wine and eat cheese. I smile, thinking he's never going to go for it.

How provincial. 

Tell me about it. 

I love it. You're taking the high road. 

What would I do if I took the low road, exactly?

I'll tell you while we head down to the water. Get your pencils.