Saturday, 31 August 2013

Misgrace.

I can't find the secret to survive
To grow old safe and sound
Life is sifting through like the sands in the hourglass
There's not a moment to relive my time and space
There's not a moment to undo anything
Feverish, exhausted and still I get up at dawn and shrug into one of his favorite dresses, a plum-colored raw silk halter dress that makes my skin look like marble and my hair like hard rain. I frown at my face in the mirror, and sit down to put on the shoes with the ankle bows. Jesus. What a stupid getup for a Saturday morning.

A Saturday morning should be flannel pajamas and cartoons and coffee and Lucky Charms but it's not. It's my own personal Devil, looking to collect dividends on hos ownership of my soul. I square my emotions and decide against jewelry. Not like he ever leaves it on anyway and Ben, over the years, has eaten all of my favorite earrings. I don't care to replace them.

I walk quietly downstairs, through the kitchen and out the side door. There are a few lights on in the boathouse and when I reach the door I put my hand up to knock. Caleb is already at the door. He looks tired too. Maybe he's getting sick. He doesn't say anything, he just holds out his arms. I've never refused a hug in my entire life and I'm not about to start now. I run a deficit and I'm never discriminating. A hug is a hug is a hug.

It's a good one. He holds tightly but not too tightly. He puts his head down on mine. I rest my head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat slow to a relaxed cadence and then eventually I pull back, coughing, taking a step back to wait for instructions.

He frowns as he fetches a large white envelope from the counter, passing it to me with a look on his face I can't even describe. I open it. Inside is a small bottle of antibiotics with a handwritten label.

Бриджит

Caleb tells me to start with two and then take one each day until they're gone. That he went and picked them up after describing what everyone was suffering from in the main house, treated with the same pills I see in this bottle. 

He takes the envelope back and withdraws something else. A piece of paper from his desk with his heading on it, addressing me, confirming that he is in receipt of full monies up to and including December. 

So instead of worrying about the next few months we can breathe a little or maybe he'll find some other way to torture me to pay for this. I don't know. I kind of panic either way because I don't want this hanging over my head like it does. I'd rather just sell all my things and pay him cash because cash is easy. 

He puts his hands on my face and forces me to look up, shut up and pay attention. I didn't write it off, it was paid for you. So go home and get better. That's your job right now. 

Then he lets go and opens the door. I'm just about to leave when I remember to bring my medicine and my proof with me. 

Who paid it? 

Lochlan.

Where did he-

I don't know, Bridget. We don't have normal conversations anymore. He brought me the money, I wrote you a receipt. I gave him a receipt as well but he's probably already set it on fire like he does with everything I touch. He's got a long way to go in learning people skills, you might want to help him with that. Or better yet, cut him loose. He weighs you down, if a few payments left you both willing to settle into old habits to pay your way. 

Don't even start, you don't know-

I know you're a very sick little girl and you need to go lie down and get better. Call me if you need anything. Take the pills. Do you remember what I told you? Start with two. 

Yes. 

Good girl. 

Please stop saying that. 

Friday, 30 August 2013

He only loves me when I'm perfect.

I'm only happy when it's complicated.
I'm feeling a little better today. A little less nauseous, a little more tired and my sore throat seems to have been swallowed by a raw chest instead. Maybe that's the evolution of this illness and if so I'll probably be presenting to the Russian not-a-Doctor sooner rather than later because you-know-who is anxious for my precious time but he refuses to be needlessly saddled with unnecessary germs and unwell princesses.

The rest don't seem to mind, telling me I'm a lot more fun to be around when I don't talk so much or resist their charms since I'm now too weak to fight back.

They lie. If I don't talk they get nervous and hell, I don't fight back. Never have.

Oh my God, I'm kidding. Relax.

The only thing I did today was finish Matt's juice when he stood up to prepare to leave for work, apologize when he turned and looked very surprised and then I faceplanted into the couch, where Lochlan sat with a guitar because work? What is this work-thing you speak of? I think he's holding out on Batman because we're not all that sure Batman is all that sane right now but I'd like to keep the peace until Ben's bill is settled.

Ever the stoic and observant Sugar Baby I am, until the bitter end.

But I'm not the baby in this case and I'm not sure how Ben intends to settle up when he's promised me and everyone else within a hundred mile radius that he's not going back to work when he comes home. So basically, at this rate everyone's going to be unemployed and yet the bills keep coming. Rent is due on Sunday and uh...um...

I text the Devil that I'll see the stupid doctor tomorrow and then we can maybe have a movie or lunch or something as long as I'm not still contagious, if I feel well and good enough.

He texts me back immediately. Good girl.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Right here at home.

WHOA.

It just dawned on me. Sam sounds just like Steve Miller when he sings.

I can't wait to tell the others. But the singalong is getting loud and late at this point and I've already been sent to bed. :(



Filthy Thursday Circus.

After a few false starts my body chose to give out spectacularly last night as I sparked through what was left of the evening, setting the sheets on fire. I woke up in flames and smoldered through breakfast and now I've decided it's time to pack my (non-flammable) things and head back to the sideshow, where circus people go when they have enough talent left to fake something interesting as long as it doesn't involve the real world.

I'll be the Incredible Self-Immolating Girl. Watch her burn! Step back now, don't stand too close, folks.

The rest of them are on antibiotics. I'm pretty sure a liberal helping of bourbon and then the one of brandy last week somehow insulated me from the bacteria on the point or maybe my physiology instinctively doesn't get sick because I am the primary caregiver. I just know that I fight to exist normally even though clearly today I'm out of my league.

Everyone else is back to work today. We finished the Walking Dead. We considered some other shows as well and haven't settled on the next one yet. We ordered pizza and we lazed about but it was as if it never happened this morning in the rush to get going and now I sit alone in the kitchen wishing I could go back to sleep.

But I won't. Too busy planning my act. I've decided I'm going to be famous.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Cruciferous maximus.

Caleb invited me down for dinner the other night. Mostly because he said he wanted to go over the receipts for Henry's school clothes and supplies, haircut, shoes, sports fees, student fees, etc, etc. (Actually Henry said no haircut this year because haircuts are dumb. Hahahahahaha. Also kid with no interest in clothing suddenly wants Adidas! DONE.).

But mostly he wanted me to just be there, with him, instead of anywhere else so he handed me a cheque for the right amount before he finished cooking and there, business is out of the way, now how about a nice romantic dinner?

Sure, I offered. You didn't tell me you invited Loch too. Or is Ben home already? Is he a surprise?

But the look on Caleb's face said with those comments I clearly stepped over a line and was being difficult.

I'll have dinner and then I need to go home. I promised the kids a movie.

He demurs. Fine. Let's get to the food.

Lobsterrrrrrrr. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.  Wine. Melted butter. Bread so good I missed it when we ate it all. Scallops and collard greens. Fresh lemons. Fried potatoes.

I think I died and went to a restaurant in heaven because wow.

Then over dessert (brandy and warm chocolate cake) he starts right in. I'm getting sick because I hang out with a filthy carny. Dirt doesn't come off those kinds. It becomes part of their genetic makeup. They just aren't right, or worthy or sanitary or clean.

What the..

FUCK.

Then he asks me to think really hard. Had nothing ever happened, would I have married Lochlan and lived in a trailer forever on appropriated land, churning out babies and tricks, singing old gypsy folksongs to a screaming ginger brood forever? How long would we have stuck it out once we were saddled with children and debts and hardship and routine, not the good circus kinds that take place four times a day, six on the weekends, either?

I sat there, thinking. In silence. For a good long time before I realized I had no answer for this. Or did I?

I laughed. I laughed until I cried and I dabbed at my eyes with the corner of what had to be a Porthault napkin and then I got up and left without a word.

Because I'm learning ever so slowly and over many decades indeed that his judgements and litanies, his lectures and namecalling don't necessarily deserve an audience or a reply for that matter, and if he continues to slam what would have been an exceptionally amazing, dirty carny life with every facet of every dream I've ever had about it firmly fixed in place then he'll get no more time with me.

I don't need that. There's little out there that's worse than someone torching your unrealized dreams of a filthy brood and a happy home and a whole lot of tricks and singing and abject poverty and love. Maybe it's romantic but it's a hell of a lot more warming to me than the thought of Caleb's perfect, sterile life in which everything is cold and grey and quiet and dignified and carried out only because people love people with money and latch on to that lifestyle like lemmings, bloodsuckers who see nothing but dollarsigns in the blood they draw.

I don't fit in to that. I think it's finally dawned on me precisely how obvious that is.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Black Rock City.

August just arrived at Burning Man and sent me a selfie. I should be congratulating myself that I don't have to be planning the huge decontamination ritual for when he comes home but instead I miss him so.

No one from the house is going to Burning Man, either. I think I've gotten a little too princessy for these sorts of things, frankly. If I deviate from my standard routines all hell breaks loose.

For example, yesterday. I grabbed the nearest body wash in my rush to get a quick shower, using a tiny bottle Lochlan brought back from our trip. Had a huge allergic reaction it and went to bed last night softly whimpering and jacked out on allergy pills and calamine because hives, inside and out.

So somehow I don't see myself living in a dusty tent for a week, in spite of the fun it must be.

August loves it. I think he does a lot of drugs while he's there and only while he's there. I think he uses it as a place to have some sort of spirital out of body experience/awakening and I've learned not to ask too many questions about it because it sounds amazing and horrifying all at once.

This from us, the crew who can't even seem to get to the Chinese night market. Because meh. Too far. Too late. In my pajamas. Concerts are pretty much the only reason I leave the house anymore.

That and trips to go get more cake.

I bet they don't have cake at Burning Man. I mean, the kind that would be safe to feed your kids.

(If you need me I'll be in my ivory tower.)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Half-formed points.

Today, I:

  • Found Humans of New York and read as many stories as I could. It's fascinating. I love people, really I do even though I also hate them. I always hope everyone has a story and that they are actually willing to step out of their comfort zone and tell them to me. That's how I make friends, you see. 
  • Ordered the Christmas Wishbook because I'm a holiday masochist and because I can buy things from it, unlike the Neiman Marcus fantasy book, even though that's infinitely more fun.
  • Crave Thai food and won't be getting any because we're all sick and there's a quaratine so no one's going out and delivery of Thai food is suspicious and unpossible. 
  • Used the wrong body wash in the shower and now am one big little itch that needs to be scratched. 
  • Did not sleep in even though I should have. A lot. A whole lot, if you want me to tell the truth (cranky face).
  • Helped Ruth go through her closet, realizing she's outgrown exactly half of the contents inside. What remains is all Dauntless, all the way.
  • Have three big garbage bags full of clothes to take to the donation bin by the Hardware Store. 
  • Watered the lawn and changed the beds all by myself. I call it gym-time. Since I'm far weaker than I should be and I refuse to join a gym. Changing beds is sweaty and requires strength to lift mattresses to put on new sheets, so there. 
  • Decided I need to go through my clothing too and weed out all the things I no longer wear.  Did I mention I hate shopping for clothes? I'll shop for anything BUT clothes. Mostly food. Okay, only cake. I'll shop for cake and then I'll just eat it naked. Then everyone's happy. Especially me. 
  • ran into a timing block and have not see a single Walking Dead episode since last Tuesday. So close and yet so far. 
  • Am patiently waiting for the first minute of Divergent footage during the MTV Video Awards tonight. Then I'll turn it off because they don't do good music (metal or seventies) and I don't ever know who anyone is anymore. I'm kidding. Get off my lawn. (Update: it's up right here. OMG *fangirls*)
  • Have the worst sore throat + headache today but I'm hiding it because others are sicker and they need to be looked after. I'm such a mom sometimes, geez. 
  • am having dinner with the Devil tonight because I like to visit my soul. Also, maybe he'll venture out for some Thai food for us. That I won't eat naked because boundaries, people, I obviously have none.
  •  

Saturday, 24 August 2013

News I can use.

Today I'm listening to acoustic Motorhead songs on Youtube, and I've bitten off all my lipgloss as I fight a growling stomach, a really bad cough and the urge to laugh as Lochlan quotes William Blake and juggles and tries to keep his rhythm in spite of so much distraction.

So..who can juggle to Motorhead? I think it's probably a thing, like licking one's own elbow.

I talked to Ben this morning. He's going to be home next month. He says it all casual-like, as if we are talking about the weather (we did that too) and then he pauses and asks if I heard him because I'm sort of dropping the phone and running around in circles in super fast-forward mode because coffee + good news.

I come back and he's all self-conscious and silent.

Did you say next month? Is that like three weeks early?

Yeah. Look, can I talk to Loch?

No! Talk to me! Jesus, you're always so fast to get off the phone, Ben! 

There's a lineup of people I need to talk to, to verify that you are doing well. 

So ask me instead and save time.

You tell such sweet little lies, Bee. I never believe you. How are you?

Fine, I lie. My lip starts to quiver.

Sweet, tiny little liar, he accuses gently. Talk to me, Bee. 

I think you fucked up, Benny. This would have been easier if I had aligned with the Devil while you were away. 

He lets out a long breath. No, Bridget, it wouldn't have.

Status quo then. Why didn't we leave it alone?

It's a natural inclination. I'm secure in my beliefs that you needed this time with Lochlan as much as I needed it to myself. 

Great. 

It is, actually. You'll see. Want to put Sammy on for me, babe?

Sure. Fine. 

Hey. Don't do that. September something. I'll be there. I'll be home. Love you. So much, Bridget.

The thought makes my head all jello-y-weird like it always did when Ben would come home after a long absence. As if I couldn't place if it were dread, excitement or just sheer joy. I'll go with a mix of all three.

I'm going to spend the rest of the day trying to lick my own elbow. My luck is changing, so you never know.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Black Sabbath.

Benjamin, you missed a good show.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Burning the lot.

(You just watch them. Watch as they never change, seeing opportunity to take around every corner. That's what those career carnies do, you see. They take. They take it all when you blink and when you open your eyes again you just feel stupid for having been robbed because you thought, like everyone always thinks, that it wouldn't happen to you.)
Fearlessly the idiot faced the crowd, smiling
Merciless, the magistrate turns 'round, frowning
and who's the fool who wears the crown
Go down in your own way
And everyday is the right day
And as you rise above the fearlines in his frown
You look down, hear the sound of the faces in the crowd
When I brought my hands up to touch his face he smiled. I leaned up on my tiptoes and pulled him down until my forehead was pressed against his, his earnest eyes looking right into me, past the harm we bring and the lies we tell to ourselves, never mind to each other.

I reached down, taking the hem of his shirt, pulling it up over his chest, shrugging it over his arms. He helped. The smile is gone from his face now, replaced by something better. I bite his bottom lip and go to work on the button on his jeans. He reaches down and unfastens it with one hand. I slide my hands down his hips inside his waistband as his hands slide around my back. With a shove his pants hit the floor just as he pulls off my dress. We are undressed, exposed. Raw-form, with no preparation or alteration.

Me with the tiny white check-mark scar under my nose and the larger cesarean scar besides, he with the long straight lines on his hips where he rode the pavement like a wave not once but twice in his life falling off motorcycles and the little crescent moon divot on his right shoulder where he hit the net hard during practice and someone had left a bolt lying in it and we had to dig it out of his shoulder while he bit down on a facecloth backstage. He always maintains that it was lucky it didn't happen to me, for the bolt would have gone right through me and come out the other side and that wouldn't have been pretty. I trace the small pink line on the right side of his temple where his eyebrow is cleaved in half and won't grow anymore because Ben got him with a hockey stick and he had to have six stitches.

This is not a love story. There is no happy ending here. Just moments strung in between life events where we affirm that our souls are one in the same, if only the pieces could find one another. We come to each other beaten, broken and scarred and we see right through the marks and the damage to what used to be innocent and whole.

He steps out of his pants, tossing them on the chair along with his shirt as I step in close again. I pick up his hand and kiss his palm. He cups my face. His other hand comes up and smooths my hair back out of my eyes.

I don't lead very often. I mostly let him direct me. I always have because he was so much older and I had no idea what to do. I didn't learn about sex at home or in school. I learned everything on the road in the Midway in a tiny airless camper. The good and the bad.

I push him down and climb under the covers next to him. I pull myself in against him and kiss him so hard he fights to breathe. He flips me down onto my back, thrusting into me hard, no waiting, no foreplay. He rises up on his elbows, my head in his hands, driving so hard it hurts all over but it's so good. I dig my nails into his shoulders and he dips his head down to mine for another kiss. We can't keep it together, he's pushing too hard so he moves so his head is just over mine, chin bumping against my forehead, arms locked tight around me.

Then he sits up, pulling back on his legs, pulling me into his lap so I am lying in front of him, watching him as he hooks his arms under my legs, hands around my hips, finding more force to draw from. When I cry out it serves only to send him further into the dark. He collapses on top of me, smothering my cries. He begins to take his sweet time. Hours pass in the dark as we retrace familiar paths.

This is what I know.

His skin. His red curls in my mouth all the time, his chin against my nose, his kind eyes closed, his rough-healed hands capable of fixing the Ferris wheel or a broken heart, if given a chance.

His voice, the narrator inside my head as he teaches me everything from algebra to astronomy to army-caliber first aid, used later when I put those stitches in his eyebrow myself because he didn't want the police involved, or the hospital, or the others. He held on to my thighs while I stood in front of him and stitched him back together. He squeezed so hard I added the marks to my scar-inventory.

His voice in my head as he explained to me in excruciating detail how to rob a mark. His voice in my head as he reminded me never to do so but then seemed so touched when I did and brought him a little fistful of reckless, hard-won cash.

His ruined words in my head as I tried to disappear somewhere far on the inside when things went so very wrong.

Don't you go anywhere, Peanut. I love you. You stay right here with me and I'll stay right here with you and we'll stay together because I'm going to love you and look after you and no one's going to take you away from me ever again. Just talk to me, please? 

And I'm afraid. I'm afraid of an intensity that began when I was nine years old and had no idea what it meant. Or what it would mean later on when I was old enough to use it as a weapon as we choose consistently to leave deep gaping wounds in each other, wounds that can't be stitched up or covered. Wounds that fester and ache.

We flatten history between us, a wedge suddenly made of only air instead of feelings that vanish as all our promises fulfill themselves in one beautiful, giant bloom of fireworks and flames.  Flames that heal.

In that brief time we forget the wounds hurt so much and we forget whose were worse and we resolve to remain intact. I sit up and kiss him hard, I kiss him for forever, it seems and he doesn't let go. He reaches out with one hand, grabs his t-shirt and puts it on me, pulling my arms through the holes, gently pulling it over my head. I get cold afterward. He's so warm all the time the minute I let go the cold rushes in and fills up the new unwelcome, empty space.

He cradles me in his arms, kissing me hard again while reaching for my left hand. He takes off one band but leaves the other. He says he feels almost sorry for Ben and for the others because they will never know love like this.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Disturbing the fleece (going dowwwwwwnnnnn in a blaze of glory.)

I'm a devil on the run
A six gun lover
A candle in the wind
When you're brought into this world
They say you're born in sin
Well at least they gave me something
I didn't have to steal or have to win
Another random Wednesday, another noise complaint. I think I've tied with Sam now. (If you want to tell me I'm tying up resources please remember *I* didn't call them.)

The police were out front when I made it around the driveway. Caleb had already gone out to meet them. Idiot called me his girlfriend and said that I am deaf and like to turn up the music.

I showed them my hearing aids and laid it on really thick. I like to hear the singers breathe! I proclaimed. They looked at Caleb and then back at me. I giggled and bounced around the pavement. They figured he was a lonely rich man with a bubbly twit for a girlfriend, who was probably a gold digger soaking up the rays at the mansion because it's Wednesday morning and she doesn't have a job, of course.

(WAIT. WHAT?)

I pouted and apologized and offered them iced tea and we didn't even get a warning this time, just a plea for consideration of the neighborhood, where the property taxes are so fucking high you can't hear the music anyway for the throngs of homeowners crying into their breakfast cereals, that they bought on sale because yeah, wheat prices are HIGH.

When they left I waved and blew a kiss and once the gate had closed behind the car Caleb looked at me and said,

Tell the rat to turn the fucking music down. And if you ever give another performance that embarrassing I'll throw you off the fucking cliff myself.

You wouldn't. I pouted and swung.

You want to test me, Bridget? Don't test me. You'll lose.

I stuck my tongue out and ran. He made a move like he was going to lunge and I shrieked and he backed right off. I don't think he knows how to have fun, to tell you the truth. And if we're being honest, Lochlan wasn't the one who put the music on so loud, but what he did do was give me a copy of Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits. Not like I was going to play it quietly.

(Yeesh. Don't you people know me better than that? Lochlan does. Pretty sure he's got a plan now to drive Caleb insane in slow motion.)

Update: It appears NO ONE has a sense of humor today. Lochlan just told me not to have any fun with the Devil whatsoever.

Or what? I countered. I'm pushing, yes, I know.

Or.....or...Just keep close to me okay? Jesus for once in your young life listen to me. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Cold shoulders.

Caleb's honesty breaks me. I think I like him better when he's just evil.

(Don't invite me over there with one of your envelopes and then put on music I like and start talking about how alone you are. Just don't. Don't tell me you feel a thrill when I walk into the room. Don't tell me you can't take your eyes off me. Don't tell me it hurts when I leave.

You took my soul. So sorry it doesn't keep you warm at night. If you hadn't been so greedy someday I might have come to you in my own sweet time. That will never happen now so stop forcing it.)

***
It's been raining since you left me
Now I'm drowning in the flood
You see I've always been a fighter
But without you I give up

Now I can't sing a love song
Like the way it's meant to be
Well, I guess I'm not that good anymore
But baby, that's just me
I let myself back in through the side door just after midnight and Lochlan is sitting at the island staring into a whiskey. I thought you weren't coming home tonight, he says.

So you were going to drink yourself to sleep?

No, I was going to drink myself into paralysis only, so that I wouldn't go over there and beat him to death. He touch you?

No. I had a drink. He talked. I left.

And?

And...what?

He's buying your time with this house. This...life. He's using all of it to guilt you into seeing him. Those envelopes-

Mean nothing to me.

Then why won't you just stay here, Bridget? With me. Please. This is killing me. 

That's what I'm afraid of. 

Explain yourself, he orders.

We're staring each other down suddenly. He's shitfaced off a glass and I'm not much better. God, what a pair.

If I chose you and give up everything else, you'll die. Or leave. Or break.

You've done it a couple times already. Did I die?

No. 

Did I leave?

Yeah. You did. 

I didn't. Not really.

Okay, fine. You didn't. 

Did I break?

Pretty much. 

Want to know something? You can fix me. Then I won't be broken. Then we can be happy. He comes over and takes me by the hand, pulling me tight against him. We could start a fire with our breath, I think.

We have to stay here though. In this house. With the Devil watching over us. 

Fuck the Devil. He's no match for us. No one is. It's you and me against the world. Always has been, always will be. No matter who gets in my way- He stops when his voice catches on a ragged feeling and he just keeps staring. I don't think he can see me anymore, there's a lake in the way. Bridget, I-

I can't risk you. I could risk pretty much anyone, but not you. So don't ask me to. I can't. 

So you're just going to keep this up forever?

Don't be silly. No one lives forever. No one even comes close.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Miss (in a moment, pick one any one oh how about this one).

Right now, this second, I miss the Winnipeg Zoo. I miss my leg warmers from 1981. I miss my mom's chocolate-chip zucchini bread and I miss my Right Coast.

Right now I'm craving chocolate and bourbon and ice skating and James Bond movies.

Right now I'd like to fall asleep for two or three hours and try again later.

Right now I'd like to finish the book I'm reading.

Right now I could use a hug.

Right now I'm cooking dinner. Baby potatoes, green beans, baked chicken and rolls. Milk and water to drink, cookies and tea for dessert.

Right now I have a very sore left hand, same issue as before, staring down surgery, fun fun.

Right now I realized I forgot to wear my hearing aids again today.

Right now Ben is at an evening meeting. He gave me his 60-day medal the day we left.

Right now I just set the table with the silver service and wondered why everyone isn't helping.

Right now the sun has finally come out and the wind has died down.

Right now Cole is dead.

Right now the dog is asleep and so are both cats, Duncan and Schuyler too. I only know this because they haven't answered the group text chat AKA dinner call. Not the pets, the boys. The pets don't have cellphones.

Right now Lochlan is upstairs shaving off his beard in a hurry before supper. He's the only man I've ever met who looks worse with a beard instead of better.

Right now Jacob waits.

Right now it feels like fall.

Right now the tide is coming in and a silver envelope sits on the table in the foyer. Again.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Freebird is now stuck. in. my. head.

(That doctor turned out to be a veritable anomaly in the day, as everyone else I met was warm and accommodating, open and helpful. They were patient and kind. When I saw the mean doctor again outside, he ignored me. Ben said very quietly that he's actually really good at what he does, he just isn't all that amenable, okay he's terrible outside of his office. That none of what he said about Ben being off-limits holds, Ben just doesn't want to play out any of our issues here. This is a different form of sanctuary for him and the doctor was mindful of that and doesn't know me from Eve so there you have it.)

I actually had fun yesterday. They have a wee baby zip line on the wooded trail and I did it twice. I squealed and Ben finally cracked his face into a laugh when he caught me at the end of the second trip.

Later on we sat in this big sunny room that was all windows and talked. We talked about so many things including pressures and the dynamics of living with so many strong and flawed personalities. We talked about not shutting down. We talked about ways to be supportive and we talked about Ben and what he's going to do. Then we talked about unrelated things like IKEA and horses. They have horses here. I didn't see them.

The hugs got infinitely better as the day wore on as well. PLUS.

Ben still is hugely uncomfortable with me seeing him like this. He would hide from me, remove himself from me and generally always keep his struggles from me. It's going to take time on both our parts to deal with this and weirdly, WE'RE DOING IT.

That's why I had to come here.

I see that he's still alive. I see how much work he has to do, how much we all have to do and I finally understand the whole one day at a time logic, of not crowding up a list of worries, pressed against the day as if it were a door and they are blocking it from opening. I see how he lives in the moment and I can say for certain that there is no certainty in life so I had to step back and simply watch him as he tries to get better and learns to live without anesthetic.

And I must be flawed because all I can think is since that's how I live, on a white-knuckle emotional thrill-ride that never ends, I wouldn't wish it on him because he isn't as strong as I am and he probably never will be and the only way I manage is to divide myself into make believe to save myself from reality. No one does that like I do it.

I know that doesn't make sense but in terms of Ben's new Big Picture, it's as clear to me as this day. We're heading home midafternoon. First I didn't want to stay and now I don't want to go but we'll go home and muddle through many more weeks until Ben comes back with us, renewed and ready to take on..absolutely nothing. His projects have been closed down or shifted to others. He is officially retired and I couldn't be happier.

(Special note: I believe they are putting Benjamin to bed around eight o'clock each night. Which is really good but also funny. They must have tranquilizer darts for him like they do for me at home.)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

On keeping a paper bag in the rental car to breathe into.

I chose wrong. I watched him bearhug everyone and then I was shoved to the front and he did not hug me.

Ben put his hands in his pockets and looked at Lochlan and asked, Are you guys okay?

He meant something else entirely and I knew what he meant, I just haven't actually acknowledged it yet.

Yes. Lochlan said it like a challenge, he's trying to own the moment and I stepped back behind him slightly. PJ shoved me back in front.

Ben's eyes flit to me again. You okay, bee?

No. I say only that. I don't feel like doing this with an audience. Ben's assigned family weekend facilitators are standing there, both with practiced poker face. It's awesome. I'm getting madder by the nanosecond.

Can I speak with you privately?

I can't, Bridget. I don't have much privacy here.

Oh. I see. 

Hungry?

Not anymore. 

For brunch, I sit between Ben and Lochlan at this giant round table that precludes conversation. I look at Ben as he eats slowly and sips coffee and smiles and laughs at the stories the boys tell. I watch him as he answers questions easily. He isn't laid back but he isn't tense either. He seems really glad to be with his friends, and touched that everyone came down to see him.

Almost everyone.

I ask him a question and he answers with as few words as possible and then smiles without his eyes as he turns to field yet another topic-change across the table. I was answered professionally, in his work-voice, that he uses with people he hardly knows in a business capacity and nothing more. I was relegated to the sidelines with that voice.

I sat there pushing food around on my plate and tried to tell myself all sorts of dumb things like he's just having a hard time letting me see him like this and he's worried I might doubt his ability to follow through. He's doing his best. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I let myself get mad because it's easier to control the inevitable tears that way and I would be damned if I were to let him see me cry.

When breakfast was finished we walked back to the area where we will be participating in some therapy later today, late afternoon. First he has a meeting and then we're going on a group hike so we are to change and then meet up and I turned to him and asked if I could have an actual hug. He looked pained but I got another eight milliseconds of contact.

Then he was out the door and I was left standing facing it, my back to everyone else as they chatted with some of the people looking after Ben and each other. No one was watching me.

So I followed him.

Down hallway after hallway, I watched him hunch over lower as he went, hands shoved in his pockets, watching the floor pass beneath him as he made his way back to his room. People said hello to him and he answered kindly. He knows everyone here. All of these people have a hand in helping him, but he people thin out as we walk. Finally there is no one for two hallways and I am just about to make my presence known to him when a doctor or someone important steps out of a side door and says hello to him and asks him something. I stop and wait. Then the person leans out and looks at me.

Can I help you?

Ben turns and looks back. His eyes widen and I see his brow go up, but only on the left side of his face. He smiles slightly.

No, I just need to have a word with my husband, thank you. 

My hopes are dashed. I'm sorry, Mrs...uh... we don't allow for much private contact on family-designated days. We want to keep our residents emotionally level during these times. I understand it can be stressful-

Stressful is an understatement. Who are you again? 

My apologies for not introducing myself. I'm Dr.______.  I oversee Ben's treatment. 

Then why did you pretend you didn't know my name?

Bridget, I want to assure you we will have time for guided conversation this afternoon in family session. I don't want you to feel as if your needs and questions are not being met. However, it's my first responsibility to see that Ben is-

I have no intentions of sabotaging my husband. 

I think you know what I mean. 

Maybe. 

Then may I ask that you work diligently at following the rules while you are here as our guest? We all want the same thing for Ben, and he's doing well. If he seems a bit removed, please understand how overwhelming this is. 

I raise my hands up and let them fall. Tears. Fucking tears are rolling now and he softens slightly. Ben stands there staring at me without moving or speaking as the doctor softens further.

I understand this is hard. From what Ben has told me you and he and the others have an incredibly close bond and live within an highly unusual set of circumstances, and I have been made aware that you have been through a lot in life. I want you to know that we are here to help facilitate all of you in creating a healthy environment in which you will all thrive and move forward. You're not going to get left behind. He isn't going to be someone new, he'll be Ben but with better tools to utilize to cope with stress and challenges. 

Do you think you can fix him?

He is fixing himself. We only guide his efforts and support him. The same as you do. 

I nod and wipe my cheeks and Lochlan's hands close around my arms from behind. His voice cuts through the weight of the air in the room as he apologizes to both men. She got away from me. She's so quick. 

The doctor looks at Lochlan and nods. It's fine. I think I've eased her mind a little. Have I...?

Bridget. My name is Bridget.

Bridget? If there's anything else I can do, we will have time this afternoon in our session. I look forward to having some time with you to discuss your fears and maybe connect you with someone you can work with as well. Is that okay?

I don't know. Is it?

He looks at me curiously and then looks at his watch. I have to leave, but we will reconvene at three forty-five. See you then. And he shakes Lochlan's hand and then heads down the hall away from us. Ben tells me he will see me for the hike and comes back, thrusting a kiss onto my forehead so hard I lose my balance and bounce off Lochlan. He steadies me and Ben smiles. I see a briefest twinkle of bullshit in his eyes and he turns and walks away.

We are back now at the hotel to change. I put on my docs, skinny jeans and a Coney Island t-shirt that Batman got for me and I put my hair in a ponytail. I didn't put on any makeup. I expect to cry pretty much all afternoon. I know now why Ben didn't want me to come here. This is too fucking hard.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Checked in.

Another week, another suitcase. Hopefully this trip will be as successful as the last one.

Ben doesn't know I'm here.

Every weekend families are encouraged to come and participate in workshops and activities and therapies and so yeah, here I am.

Ben expressly said he did not want me here. Not sure if he did that to protect himself in case I wasn't planning on coming anyway or if he's going to be really unimpressed to see me. It could go either way but frankly I really really want to see him so I don't care.

Wish me luck. Tomorrow at six in the morning (breakfast) will either be amazing or terrible. I hope it's amazing.


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Fierce auras.

The bursts of uncontrollable psychic energy continue, in which I demonstrate handily how to kill a four-month old iPhone 5 and a fourteen-month-old perfectly good vacuum (fuck you, I figured out how to spell it finally, I think) in the span of no less than nine hours. Simply by being in the same room with both objects, neither of which showed any damage whatsoever but were unrepairable.

Thank you Apple genius for the new phone. Wish you made vacuums too.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Better angels.

Batman is not affectionate. Never was. His hand-holding fetish is control only. Direction. Containment. Proximity. He's all business vertically and horizontally too. It kept things simple, I guess. It made decisions pretty easy. Sort of like his formal, cold demeanor that hardly cracks except for now and again when I stomp my feet and demand that he feel something or show something or be something else. He'll refuse, amused and continue being aloof and I maintain my close distance, wishing he would soften or thaw or something.

He doesn't. He acts so pleased with my recent attempts to convince myself of the least of all the evils. I just can't figure out why.

***

Caleb passes me a mug of coffee, handle towards me so that he can burn his fingers and I have something to hold.

Speaking to me today? He smiles, letting his bottom lip slacken, and oh God, it looks good.

Maybe. I say it with a small smile, because I have Stockholm syndrome and he is all ears and eyes and time for me today.

Glad to hear it. Did you sleep?

I roll my eyes at him and sip the coffee. He's heavy-handed with the grounds. It's strong.

Do we need idle chitchat? 

Maybe we do, yes. 

No, we don't. 

Whatever you say, Bridget.

***

Ben calls my phone and I stare at the number for a long time before it hangs up. Shit. It rings again almost immediately and I hit the button at the same time that I jump out of my skin.

Danny says you're punishing me for leaving and I should be wise to know that you might not come back to me when I leave here. 

Danny has a big mouth for such a little boy. Wow. We haven't even said hello yet.

Is he the one with the big mouth? I'd say it's you. 

Those are fighting words, Tucker.

Maybe I feel like fighting, Bee.

I hang up.

He calls back.

Don't do that, Bridget. 

Do what? Make myself unavailable and hard to reach? Oh, I'm sorry. Did you need me and I'm not there? Feels great doesn't it, Benny? Only eight weeks? Jesus FUCKING Christ.

You know what? I'm trying to steer you towards Lochlan because I know how to get you back from him. If you drift toward Caleb instead I don't know what I would do. 

You come back and be a man. 

I'm working on it, Little Bee.

I know you are. 

How are you doing?

Fabulous.

No, really. 

You know where I am. You come see for yourself. 

I'm halfway through, Bridget. 

And?

This is bullshit but I'm doing it. 

Who are you going to be when you come home?

I don't know yet. Hopefully the old Ben. 

Jesus, no. Anything but that. 

He laughs and it's the best sound in the world. You know you miss that guy. 

Like hell I do. I liked the Ben I had. 

Naw, Bridge, he was a fake, a joke. 

He was mine. 

You were mine once. God this sucks. Wish I could convince you to hole up with Danny and Sky until I get back. 

Great choice of words, Ben. 

That's my girl. 

***

We've cleared late evenings, me and Loch, and have been staying up til all hours watching The Walking Dead. It's fantastic.

Slow to the party, Dalton tells me. He's all caught up. What do you like best?

The tension between the characters. The gore. The part where the dead are shown eating the living and ripping their stretchy skin off makes me squeal.

God, you're a sick little fuck. Every other girl thinks it's gross and horrible. What makes you so different?

I was raised by wolves, remember?

Oh, yeah. Good to know who to blame. 

I know, right?

Monday, 12 August 2013

Not a great day.

His hand is under my head when I wake up, his nose against my jaw, breath hot on my throat. He's so far gone into dreams his muscles are tensed and it takes me a few tries to slide out of his arms without fully waking him. He wakes up anyway and opens his eyes briefly to ensure that I'm still there before turning over, and taking the sheets with him.

Be up in a bit, he mumbles.

Just sleep, I whisper back.

***

I win permission from PJ to go have breakfast on the wall. He gives me a curious look and hesitates just long enough for me to blurt out a time-limit promise and then I am off with my coffee tumbler and a wax-paper wrapped piece of toast with cinnamon sugar, which I will forget about the minute I get there.

Jake. I invoke the name that still hurts to say out loud. It makes ache-pangs in my heart that echo in waves all over the inside of my body and the only way I can stop it is to hold my elbows tightly at my sides and bite the insides of my cheeks.

No one answers. The wind blows.

JAKE. 

Jake died five years ago, Princess. He stepped off a fucking roof in a fucking far-away city and he's not coming back. Caleb is following me around the property lately. Wish he'd stop.

Not sure I believe that all the way, you know. 

Yes, I'm aware. Your doubt is staggering, under the circumstances. Like the rest of us, Bridget, do you think he would stay away if he were still here on this earth?

You told me once that he was indeed still here.

When you hurt me the urge to hurt you back is fierce. I got a very good look at where your loyalties lie, Bridget. 

It never mattered if I hurt you first, Diabhal. Don't make it seem as if it's equal. 

What did you plan to talk with him about?

Ben. 

Ben's gone and traded you again, hasn't he? 'Align with Lochlan and I'll be back soon and we can figure it out'. Is that what he said? Batman has done a number on Ben's mind. Do you really think he's doing that for Ben's benefit or for yours, for that matter? Bridget, you're not keeping up very well with your own games. 

Ben hasn't factored in the aspect of me punishing him for leaving. 

I see. 

Maybe by the time he comes back there won't be anything left to figure out. 

Because you've let yourself get closer still to the rat. 

Maybe because he doesn't try to stand on everyone else to reach me. 

He's the master, Bridget. Don't think for a second he isn't acting, here. 

I know every aspect of that man. Don't even presume to tell me otherwise. 

He surprises you often. So that would be your first lie of the morning. 

I climb down from the rocks and turn back to pick up my coffee and toast. The wind is stinging my hair against my eyes but I stare evenly at Caleb.  

Don't wreck my breakfast. I have plans and they're not with you. 

Where are you going now?

None of your business.

You're going to sit on the filthy floor of the garage and eat your breakfast and hope that Jake shows up in your head? What if Cole shows up instead? What if you have lost your little mind? What if the fucking sky opens up and eats all of us whole? Bridget, I think it's time we got you some help. You're more than a little bit stalled here and I don't think having tea with Sam every day for five months fixed what's wrong with you. 

There's nothing wrong with me. 

He stops abruptly, ready to say more but not doing so. Push too hard and lose so much ground, right? I challenge him with my eyes to keep going but he's smarter than that and he gives in. Don't you dare tell me I'm crazy until you've seen what I have seen and felt what I've felt. Toast is a fucking accomplishment, as are words and feelings and trying to reach out with my arms and grab life rafts as they float by me as I drown here.

Follow me and I'll never speak to you again, Diabhal.

Threats work too.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Tofino + Ukee.

Many of you wanted to see the offerings we found on the edge of the world. The larger sand dollars are six inches across! Mutant sea monsters, well, they be here.


Saturday, 10 August 2013

Give me things that don't get lost.

Lullabies, look in your eyes,
Run around the same old town.
Doesn't mean that much to me
To mean that much to you.

I've been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.
But I'm all alone at last.
Rolling home to you.
I stood sunburned and sand-fidgety for inspection. My hair is still tangled and dry, my skin raw to touch, my grin unending. Lochlan knows how to show a girl a good time. There's no Eiffel Tower or canals or priceless artwork or Malibu cliffs. Nope, there's just an endless beach (with free parking), a watch removed from my wrist, and an invitation to walk for miles, days, even until I've had enough and I want to go back to the truck.

We shared a bed, a cheap bottle of wine, and every single shower, hot or cold. I don't think my skin is raw because of the sunburn, I think he wore the top layer of me off just holding me.

Exclusivity seems to be the most valued commodity of all. I knew this and yet I ignore it. I can't make promises with a fractured heart. I don't think it's possible and yet my mind knows. It just knows and sometimes it doesn't tell the rest of me.

..? 

Oh, shit, Caleb has asked me a question and I didn't hear him, I was too busy thinking about skin.

Pardon me?

I asked if you had enough time to be selfish. 

Never. A wicked, defiant grin spoils my face, and also makes it awesome. No one can resist a happy Bridget, even when she is a brat.

He stares. His face is so handsome and so scary too. His face is pure jealousy wrapped in self-control with a sprinkling of exasperation on top. Bridget came back and she's twelve again.

What was the best part of the trip?

The time-stoppage, Diabhal. 

You always like that best. 

Yes. 

So when can I be selfish?

I shrug. I'm not the one in charge.

Where is he?

Sleeping. He did all the driving. I cuddled the dog and looked out the window and played old Canadian rock songs in my head as I counted trees. I couldn't count that high though, same as the time I tried to count the loops on the scrambler and then threw up right outside the gate as we exited the ride.

So maybe you can stay and have a drink with me on the boat?

Now?

Now. You can tell me all about your trip.

Sure? I shrug again. No one is keeping tabs today. They've forgotten I am to be watched. Well, all but one did. He was waiting for this moment, when everyone scattered back to the post holiday ennui and dropped routine and rigid emotional rule.

Gin okay? I have some olives and bread and cheese too. 

I'm actually starving. 

Good, I can look after you. I'm hungry too. A week is a long time to be without you. 

I don't think he means food anymore and the conversation has blown out the sun in favor of the shade but I pick up my phone and follow him down the steps.

Hey, Bridget, maybe if everyone is busy tonight you can stick around and we can have a sunset, he offers, ever the opportunist.

My mind knows more than I do and she's tight with her plans. I shake my head. I have to get back and wake up Lochlan before that. 

Well, see how he does. Maybe he'll want to keep sleeping and if so you can come back. 

Maybe. 

Dumb that he knows. He knows Lochlan falling asleep during the day is a huge odyssey of wasted hours spent because we're all incredibly certain that Lochlan never actually slept on our trips, either on the amusement circuit or in the circus and so he has many, many years of sleeping to do to make up for it.

I used to sit and watch him sleep though, he didn't seem awake, he seemed so far away when I needed him sometimes and I would sit and feel alone in such a tiny room. I would sit beside the bed on the floor with a stolen book about whatever I was supposed to learn and he would wake up when I sneezed or exhaled too loud or got too despairing. He would hold out his arms and promise me something wonderful and I learned to believe that if I waited long enough, he would come through.

Oh shit.

What is it, Princess?

I have to wake him up.

I have to see this through.

Nothing. I just don't think I feel well enough tonight. I'm sorry. I pass Caleb the container of cheese and slip past him. I'll try and come down later. 

It's a lie. Well, I think it's a lie but I tell it anyway and decide not to care how it's taken right now.

I go back to the house and walk the labyrinth of hallways until I reach my room. Our room. The room that seems so empty sometimes without Ben but that seems so small sometimes when stuffed with deployed memories, nostalgia spilling out into the hall. I open the door and Loch's eyes open. He looks sleepy and alert at the same time and I see how he's managed to survive. He's exhausted, aged and content all at once. He's burdened and on guard and resentful and repentant. Capable and prepared and hopeful, now.

Come lie down with me. Where did you go?

I just had a walk. Figured some things out.

What things? But then his words slur off and he's asleep again and I lie against him with my burning skin and it feels like home, just now. Yes it does. It feels like everything I need.

And it doesn't cost a thing.

Friday, 9 August 2013

The circus returns.

The best kinds of vacations are the ones in which you are so far from civilization that your phone says NO SERVICE and your GPS tells you it can't manage turn-by-turn guidance because it doesn't know where you are and when you tilt your head way back until your neck bends in half and your sunglasses (that you don't need because it's Fogust) fall off, you still can't see the tops of the trees and the dog falls asleep on your lap in the car somewhere during hour four but you keep riding and looking out the window and waiting for adventure that is all around you. You find it easily, handily and you wish you were someone else, living there all the time instead of sticking out like the outsider that you are. You wish life were a vacation punctuated with small spats of work here and there instead of the other way around. You wish you had some clean clothes but actually you don't really care. You wish you had comfortable shoes to walk in or some conditioner but you didn't bring either so you resort to bare feet and tangled hair and you reacquaint yourself with the things you always forget in the crush of real-life that chokes away the make-believe. Then you blink and it's over.

We're home now, in other words.


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Yes, I did succeed in making him more ornery than usual with writing that he withholds my wi-fi when I don't cooperate. He used to withhold things like rootbeer and chocolate. It's always age-appropriate.

 I think I'm going to have to start pretending I really love beets and Nascar and then he can withhold things I don't give a shit for. That would be sublime. I'll work on that.

PS. I withhold things from him too. No worries. It's not like Lochlan actually has the upper hand.

In other news, guess who called?

:)

(I don't know why I'm smiling, it wasn't the best phone call I've ever had but it was nice to hear Ben's voice.)

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Groundling.

In the past forty-eight hours I sobered up, sprained two fingers on my left hand, discovered a flat tire on Caleb's car, decided Jim Caviezel should be the next Batman (in the movies, not IRL) and found the best sushi restaurant on planet earth.

I also lost my internet privileges for two whole days but it's okay. Lochlan locked me out by changing the password and the rest of them told me anyway because they felt sorry for me.

I was good though, I didn't try and use it, I just wanted to have it, that's all.


Thursday, 1 August 2013

Hi, Stupid.

Last night I drank an entire glass of brandy on ice. Not a proper snifter, neat but a big-old dinner water glass with two ice cubes and the rest filled up with the finest cheap French burnt wine you can find on the point (AKA Daniel's hidden supply of Emergency Anxiety Reliever).

I walked out of the house next door, down across the grass into the darkness until I reached the midpoint of the lawn. I closed my eyes, thrust my arms out and spun around and around in a circle until I fell down.

And then I stayed down.

Because, wow. Cheap brandy and spinning isn't something anyone should indulge in past the age of oh...fifteen or so.

I lay there and thought to myself, I don't think anyone knows where I am. Then I laughed because it's nice to sneak away sometimes and not be constantly watch-

Oh, there's Caleb's face bending over mine now. Never mind.

What are you doing, Princess?

Being young. 

Why?

Go away, handsome man. No one should see a lady like this. 

I can't do that. 

Sure you can. You just turn around and lift your knees. Let them carry you away home. Leave me be. 

Only if you come with me. 

I can't feel my knees, let alone lift them. Save yourselves!

Then I'll carry you. He bends down and scoops me up. I relent because again, I can't feel my knees and I'm way the hell down the lawn away from anything and there's no bear fence on this side of the point.

I hear shouting and voices as the others see Caleb walking up the lawn holding me and I pound him on the shoulders and laugh, Drive it like you stole it! I shout, but no one thinks it's funny.

That's okay. I think it's funny.

PJ takes me from Caleb and puts me back down, steadying me in his arms. He begins to walk, half-carrying me to the house. I'm not drunk! I insist. I just wanted to watch the stars. I just want to think with my eyes open and not worry at the same time. 

You drank too much, Bridget. 

Well, I had a lot of worries to drown. I held their little worrywart heads under the surface until they stopped moving. You should have seen it, Peej. I'm a worry-murderer! A wormurder! A Murrier! Oh, just nevermind!

We get inside where the lights are on, and it's overly warm still and the kitchen is a disaster from dinner but then I see Lochlan with his sleeves rolled up and he practically drops the pile of dishes he's carrying from the dining room and rushes over. I'm pretty sure I could feel PJ just rolling his eyes quite violently which is code for Bridget's gone and done something dumb again but I didn't look up at him, I just squared my shoulders and pushed away from him to stand tall or at least just stand.

Lochlan got right in my face, smiled so kindly and said Hi, Stupid, and my knees went out from under me again.