Monday, 30 September 2013

Barrister noon.

I realize it's Monday, yes. I was up so early today (long story) that I walked right past the keypad without turning off the alarm and opened the back door and treated the whole point to a blaring siren at 4:45 a.m. I think the dog would have peed on the floor right there without going outside but he saw the look on my face and chose wisely. Then I started coffee and tried to pinch myself to make something hurt below the neck because my voice wasn't working, I couldn't breathe and then I realized that there are only eighteen hours to go and I can go back to bed and try again to get some sleep. I'm not good at this. I think I figured out what sends people into the hospital for two week stretches. 
They aren't crazy and they aren't in rehab, they're just fucking tired. Tired is a bitch, she is. She makes you want to give up and just cry. She makes you throw caution to the wind. She makes you feel completely and utterly unhinged. See the picture of the mug? PJ bought that for me a year ago and he's used it ever since for his own morning coffee. Because everyone needs to feel like a princess, even big bouncer-types with beards. 

In other news, the next person who writes to me to tell me how selfish and horrible I am may please fuck off far in advance. Did I give you Ben's side of the story here? No? Exactly. Maybe because it isn't my place to have to be the one to point out that he basically said he was happy to be home but not interested in pretending we can just pick up where we left off because he's not sure he wants to. That he'll be 'around' but I am not to wait for him. I'm not to..something something, Bridget, please don't cry.

Yeah, envy me. 


So basically I took my passport back down to be kept by it's master and accepted a glass of champagne for lunch (this is how the other half lives) and fell asleep standing at the big window, my head on the glass while Caleb tried to talk me out of, oh, pretty much everything. 

I just kept saying I don't care. I don't care. I don't care. 

I am too tired to care.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Escaping with the ghost of Freddie Mercury.

I think we're going to keep those rules after all.
Tried to be a teacher and a fisher of men, an equal
Will you lead us all the same?
Well I traveled around the world
To find a brand new word for day
Watching the time, mustn't linger behind
Pardon me I have to get away
What will you think of heaven
If it's back from where you came?
It was sort of an epiphany. We were sitting in a scraped-up booth in a well-worn restaurant with a view of train tracks and a truck lot. Lochlan was reaching across his own plate to steal a french fry from me. He made designs in the ketchup on his plate with the fry before popping it into his mouth. He reached for another, talking to the plate instead of to me, telling it that he will do whatever it takes, that if we didn't have this moment as a sign that we're meant to be together after all this time then he didn't know what else he could do. That we had to figure it out and move forward already. We're wasting daylight.

Everything is a metaphor for movement. We're stuck up to our wheel wells in quicksand and we need to get out. It's so easy to throw it into reverse and then we just get stuck again in the same hole.

It's simple, he smiles at the thick china plate. We just have to go forward.

I nod and cough into my elbow. I've left a smear of mustard on my sleeve and on my cheek but I'll get a pass, because I'm only a child.

Are you with me, Peanut?

Where else would I be?

What will we do about the mess? He indicates my face and sweater with a half-eaten french fry but he's not taking about my outfit anymore.

I put both hands up in surrender. I don't think we can do anything. This is sewn up tight, Locket. Caleb's not going to give in and I can't put the children through any more. I just..

Let me put it another way. He drops the fry, leans in close across the table, crosses his arms and lets a soft smile play across his face. Do you remember when everything was against us? Nothing was going right, we had nothing but we still had one thing. What was it?

I don't-

Think hard, Peanut.

I smile in spite of myself. Each other! We had each other.

Was it enough? Is it enough to fight through this and see what's up ahead instead of always looking over our shoulders?

Always. Yes. 

He looked so proud for that split second before I started coughing again, and when I was finished he reached across the table with a napkin to clean the mustard off my cheek, threw two twenties on the table and stood up, holding his hand out for mine. I took it, germs intact. He should be sick within a week if they don't kill him first.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Home sweet home.

Home a little early due to erroneous forecasts, not because I'm at death's door, knocking like my ass is on fire, hoping Jake will fling the door open wide and let me in out of this rain.

Because that's besides the point.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Friday 1:15 pm

For lunch it's pizza! I hope I can taste it but since Loch always gets anchovies when available I don't think I'll have much trouble. We stopped in at a pharmacy and got some better medicine and I had a long walk on an unfamiliar beach and another nap so things are looking up. Also cream soda! Because if I have any more orange juice I'll barf.

Friday 9:09 am

Twelve hours sleep and I woke up barking like a baby seal when I cough. I'm not sure if I'm better or worse. The heater went out twice overnight from what Loch said but he got it going again both times. What if he blows us up? PJ thinks we should pack it in and come home early but we have a lot of talking to do and so I said no. We leave tomorrow night as it is. I don't feel like having breakfast so Loch ordered coffee, juice and a plate of hashbrowns for me. I never turn those down.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Thursday 7:15 pm

My fever rests at 102 now. I don't know if it's because Lochlan is always so warm when we nap or if I'm sicker than I even realized in my bid to be so stubborn. We're at a pub now that boasts state lottery, pool tables and handmade burgers and the server was dispatched to bring us some chicken soup and crackers.

The camper has a tiny little wonky heater. I don't trust it, it took Lochlan 35 minutes of tinkering with it to get it to turn on so I'm guessing a combination of strep throat and post traumatic stress disorder will be what kills me. It's been fun. Soup is here.

Beaches in HD.

I'd let you go, but you're always in the way
I'm the damage done, your scar of yesterday
Hi Oregon.

Five and a half hours of fighting over music in the truck with Lochlan. Just like old times. Especially when we stop for lunch and he says,

Hey, by the way, you'll have to get all your stuff in on wi-fi at places like this because there's no wi-fi in the camper. 


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Sending us off with terrible poetry.

There's a big blackboard on the kitchen wall. I used to draw elaborate menu plans on it so everyone would know what we were having and could pitch in but lately it's been taken over by budding haiku artists. I'll let you decide who wrote which one.

I'm taking Bridget
To a place where she can sleep
See you Saturday

This is such bullshit
She needs to recuperate
Don't let her die, Bro

Have fun Mom and Dad
Everything will be just fine
Ignore these losers

Hang in there, Love.

You've been drifting and stealing
Trying to walk in my shoes
But they don't belong to you
You know, you know
But you can't find the meaning
Sing to yourself and hold on
Cause everybody's on the run
Everybody's on the run
I skid to a stop in front of the Devil, waiting for my inspection. I know I'm going to fail. My hair is escaping from the knot at the nape of my neck, my shorts are too short and my t-shirt says WEEZER on the front. The end of my nose is bright red and raw.

Is there any way I can talk you out of this? He isn't fit to look after you, you aren't fit to travel and Ben-

Ben is busy and Loch does just fine as long as you aren't around. 

What if you have an emergency? What if you get sicker than you are now, which is too sick to go, frankly.

We drive home. Jesus. I'm not going to Siberia. Or even Los Angeles for Christ's sake. 

Bridget, you might as well be. I don't like it when he takes you far from home. 

He feels the same way about you. 

Can I...Can I give you a little emergency cash? And a number across the border should you need anything?

No, you may not. If I have any problems I will ask someone for help. Like an adult. I'm sure if all I have on is a bikini help will find me, you know? 

Bridget, it's almost October. I hope you're not thinking that will be appropriate wear for the beach now. 


Oh, good, I was beginning to-

I'm bringing a sweater. 

Jesus, Bridget. 

I'll bring you back a souvenir. Maybe it will make you less cranky.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Invalid arguments on rainy Tuesday mornings.

Ben swore up and down that he would save me a slice of pizza last night so I could warm it up for breakfast but then he ate it. Then he and PJ decided it was a very good day to listen to Pantera on the stereo and I woke up so much worse than yesterday, complete with what sounds like whooping cough that I lunged for my reader and bought Doctor Sleep on it instead of trying to get to the bookstore later this morning.

(It opens at ten and I am still plotting and scheming, even though the book is in my lap.)

I had reheated beef and vegetable soup for breakfast and the leftover grapes from someone's lunch that they didn't eat yesterday and now I'm waiting for UPS because we had yet another pair of lifetime-warranty headphones bite the biscuit and really it would just be easier to cut the price in thirds and provide no warranty at all like in the good old days when things were built to last for years instead of weeks because now an exchange or replacement involves seven hundred emails, a trip to the UPS store to send out the broken thing and a whole day waiting around the house for the new thing to be delivered on whichever day fits UPS's schedule instead of mine.

Thankfully it coordinated on a day when I'm feverish and have a new book to read and have to stay home anyway, but that's not the point. The point is Ben owes me pizza for lunch now and the minute he turns his back I'm changing the CD back to Pallbearer, because it makes me feel better.

So there.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Pieces of bee.

  • Lochlan has begun to call Caleb Lucy. It took me a few minutes to figure out the reference, since my brain kept sending me into Peanuts territory. Lucy is short for Lucifer, and Caleb is now suitably matched for all of his terrible nicknames for Loch. I guess calling him Satan or the Devil wasn't quite hitting home significantly enough.
  • Doctor Sleep comes out tomorrow! I'll be at the bookshop when it opens, I'm afraid, for I'm a lifelong fan of Stephen King's work, beginning with stealing Bailey's dogeared copy of Carrie when I was seven, and reading The Dead Zone over Christian's shoulder when I was eight. I'm still going strong, I buy everything he writes and I eat every word alive. Doctor Sleep is extra special because it's a sequel to The Shining. I'm so excited I could burst. Sadly I'm a slowish reader and still up to my ears in NOS4A2 by Joe Hill. He's Stephen King's son, Owen, if you're not familiar, and he's a magnificent author too. (I'm not even going to point out here that Nosferatu is yet another nickname for the Devil because...well, YOLO.)
  • Lochlan and I are leaving for a little teeny tiny getaway toward the end of this week, just a trip to Oregon for a couple of nights. He got paid and he's all excited so his plan is to spend his entire paycheque on me. Sadly I'm a cheap date, so we have booked a Motel, found a few diners nearby and we're good. He's going to have money left over. My main itinerary involves sleeping, then sleeping some more and then eating a cheeseburger on the beach. 
  • The caveat to all of this is that I'm sick right now, having spent yesterday making excuses for feeling terrible only to wake up worse this morning. It hurts to swallow and to open my eyes and I'm only up and around due to the tea and Advils that Sam brought me a little while ago. Once the house is in order (AKA now) I'm going back to bed. 
Goodnight. Sleep tight. Don't let the wolf-dreams bite.

    Sunday, 22 September 2013

    No excuses, no surrender (no reminders to hit publish instead of save, either..)

    Here it is the first day of fall and I'm contemplating an entire day of baking before dissolving into the flannel arms of someone who is free and unencumbered with a laptop/book/guitar/hot beverage.

    That's healthy for Bridget.

    I'm also contemplating taking the unopened forty of Maker's Mark that I saw in Caleb's kitchen out to the garage where I will lie on the cold wet concrete floor in my pajamas, drink the whole thing and then ask Jacob in a hesitant, quiet manner why exactly a sixth year without him is suddenly cause for a whole new round of attempts to gently persuade me to move on, finally.

    That's not healthy or something or other.

    Maybe I can pull off a mix of both. Or maybe Jacob will appear in the living room with a book or a folder full of notes and his bible in hand and I can throw myself in his arms and then when he decides he actually wants to do some work I'll be handed off to Lochlan's flannel embrace for a perfectly innocent snuggle by the fire.

    It's my brain, I'll decide.

    I think I'll skip the booze, baking and bereavement and head straight for the flannel-wrapped nap. It's healthier even than the chocolate-chip banana bread I had planned on making today.

    Saturday, 21 September 2013

    We bought a zoo.

    I actually got my hand slapped yesterday for being bored because apparently it's my duty to be entertained by mindless reports and quarter-end statements.

    Fuck this shit, I never asked to be on your board.

    Oh, but someone is on a powertrip nonetheless and it's a long, relaxing one without interruptions and so I'm required to put on my uh...executive panties? or something and show up when summoned.

    I drew skulls all over the reports they handed me, and a little baby dragon that the secretary smiled at before she realized Caleb was frowning at her. It's okay, no one else actually knows who I am either. I think half of them think I'm Caleb's personal assistant and the rest believe I'm the beneficiary of his fortune and I'm not interested.

    They don't understand beneficiary is just a real swell way of coating sugar baby in..well, sugar. And sex. And denial and pretty covers on ugly truths.

    I don't understand ventures or things like percentages or net asset growth and therefore draw skulls and post mildly passive-agressive journal entries from the boardroom table. I understand it later when he explains it in basic terms on the drive home. I want to cry Shut up! so I can listen to the car purr down the highway but he's busy explaining Henry's future to me and so I take dutiful mental notes so that I can continue to direct the funds to maximize returns long after Caleb is dead and gone.

    When he says this I look at him, in shock, dazed, mouth open in a sort of horrified realization that nothing lasts forever.

    I keep trying to forget that. Mostly by not listening.

    When we get home Lochlan is pacing like a caged lion in the driveway. It's the hair. Somehow his curls are growing in dark red again, big and round and crazy and I would give God all of Caleb's money to have curls like that but I guess they are mine by default. He's all ragey-cagey because I left the grounds with the Devil and that isn't in his new rulebook.

    But since Caleb is still in lawyer mode he makes it simple, telling Loch that we can all go back to court where Caleb will fight for access to the mother of his child, that no mediator in the world is going to allow the sometime-carnival-boyfriend of said object of desire to interfere in what is a healthy, productive co-parenting relationship.

    Lochlan reminded him that they're aware of all facets of both co-parenting arrangements and our relationship, which Caleb is not to minimize and they're also aware that there's more to this than a litany of schoolyard threats to be determined.

    Me, I walked inside while they were shouting at each other, took off my stupid platform shoes and sat up at the island in the kitchen, where PJ promptly poured me a drink and then went outside to make sure that everyone retreats safely to their corners. I'll fix it later. I just can't fix it now.

    Friday, 20 September 2013

    It's a vintage satin dress kind of day. Navy blue to match Caleb's new 370z with a spoiler because I said it would look better than without a spoiler. I'm right.

    He's wearing a blue tie with his three piece suit. We should be in a magazine together or a perfume advertisement but instead we are stuck in meetings all day. He looks at me every now and again when someone is speaking and smiles like we have a secret and oh, do we ever.

    It's just not a good one.

    Fuck I'm so BORED.

    Thursday, 19 September 2013

    Caleb showed me this.

    “No matter how careful you are, there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn't experience it all. There's that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should've been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That's how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice.”

                         ~Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

    "The hardest thing in life to learn is which Bridget to cross and which to burn." ~David Russell (with apologies).

    If I die before I wake
    Light a fuse, bake a cake
    These days when I smile it hurts like an old familiar pain that I hardly notice anymore. Tolerable. I notice when the sky gets very dark and then it opens up like curtains and in sprays a million buckets of rain. I notice that I'm getting wet, that my hair is curling up into waves like the sea but I don't think I worry about it too much. I'll dry and if not then I'll grow mushrooms like on the grass, like on the tree stumps out in the secret garden, left to become tiny tables for pots full of flowers and strawberries.

    When I write longhand now it's not as often that my brain switches gears, writing partial Jacob-memories before I drag the pen in a swish haphazardly down the page, ripping a jagged line that tears the paper up behind it like a shredded zipper. I sometimes call his number and now it tells me I dialed wrong, that I should check the number and try again. Where did his voice mail message go? The very short one that said, Call ye back when I can, 'tanks, in the quiet Newfoundland preacherman voice that he used in his office when someone was in distress. I believe I heard that voice more than anyone. I have voice memos that I saved from things so I can still listen to him but I only do that in the walk-in closet with the door locked and my headphones on so no one hears and thinks I'm slipping.

    I'm not slipping. This is how things will always be.

    I'm cold. I should run and slide into some jeans (new, straight-leg, way too long but nice) and a big sweater (Cole's grey one. Not giving it up ever even though it still reeks of paint thinner and gives me a headache and itchy hives because it wasn't made with soft wool) and maybe socks too. Ones with skulls that come up over my knees. Then I'll be super-warm but instead I'll probably just wait and have a hot shower before bed because that feels good too.

    When I make coffee in the afternoon a dozen voices remind me that it's a bad idea. I do it around twice a week to be rebellious. When I pick up a pencil to start a drawing I immediately want to rip all the pages out of my sketchbook and start fresh.

    Sometimes my music switches me back to another time and place. Sometimes I wake up with ideas about allegiance and loyalty and love that differ wildly from the day before. Some days I don't recognize myself in the mirror and some days I can rescue a downhill slide with any manner of stupid inconsequential actions and the moment I figure out the process for that instead of it occurring only by happenstance, well then I'll have conquered the world.

    Wednesday, 18 September 2013


    Sort of wonder why no one said a word
    Don't you like it on the sly?
    Don't you like it till it hurts?
    Have I been on your mind?
    What's a voice without a song?
    Something in your head you've been fighting all along
    Ben did not leap out of bed at six this morning and run off to attend meetings. Instead he remained under the covers tracing my eyelashes and lips and then Lochlan's for good measure until Lochlan got supremely irritated and got up and went to start coffee and let the dog out. Ben laughed and I opted to stay right where I was.

    I hear there's a little bumblebee who said she misses me.

    That's the biggest understatement of the decade.

    Thought you had your hands full anyway.

    No, if you're back but you're not engaged then it's eleventy million times harder.



    I'm sorry. I'm just trying to figure out how to coexist peaceful with all of these assholes.

    Your brothers.

    My brothers, yes ma'am. And also the assholes.

    Who's an asshole right now?

    Besides you, you mean?

    Ouch. That hurt very far down, deep in my soul.

    That sounds dirty. I should check that out.

    I KNEW you were in there somewhere! Welcome home Tucker!

    Tuesday, 17 September 2013

    Fading best.

    Let it go
    I believe you're the fire that can burn me clean
    I believe you're the fire that can burn me clean
    I believe you're the fire that can burn me clean
    Oh goodness, nothing better than waking up to a new Switchfoot EP. I think I died over Ba55. It's a very neat little song. I always like their outlier tunes best anyhow. It's catchy. So catchy I'm a little worried it will become the next big brainwave in Bridget's head, stuck fast for months.

    Worse things could happen. One whole summer I had Jacob's cover of High Holy Day's Proud in my head and it almost killed me.

    And Ben is uh..absent to all of it anyway. Did I mention he laughed when I told him Lochlan was going to set down a whole new list of rules for him? He said dryly that Lochlan drinks too much and that I wasn't supposed to take any of what he says seriously until he gets some help too.

    (Because suddenly everyone has a problem, you see.)

    Lochlan is stone cold sober two days since and not budging an inch. I almost had to rip his face right off when he tried to intercept a hug Daniel was planning for me. I thought he was going to try and pick a fight with Daniel and that is absolutely off limits.

    It's the equivalent of if he tried to pick a physical fight with Henry, who is almost big enough to hold his own but I would be horrified nonetheless. That would never happen but it would be terrifying if it did.

    So yeah, I was ragey about him, because don't. So he went away mad and that's fine. He'll come back.

    Unlike You-know-who.

    Ben breezes in and out of life like it's a brief stop on his itinerary in the day. He shows up, eats and disappears. I think he still knows our names but otherwise I've become a restaurant with a daily special and a fully-stocked kitchen with a reliable quality level. I've become a menu, come and choose depending on what you feel like today, have the special or maybe don't come at all. Leave a tip, along the lines of The soup was great but the waitress is always crying, maybe you should look into that or Stop waiting so hard, Bridget, you're going to hurt yourself. That ought to be worth fifteen or twenty percent, at least. Sometimes I'm tempted to put a CLOSED sign up on the door and see if he even notices.

    And Daniel's holding this failing establishment together with his hugs. His hugs are bailout money, collateral to stay afloat just a little bit longer and see if business picks up.

    Monday, 16 September 2013

    Not a plan so much as a wish.

    And your heart beats so slow
    Through the rain and fallen snow
    Across the fields of mourning
    Lights in the distance
    Don't shoot me, for I'm just the messenger here. I said it once if I said it a dozen times as Lochlan's unbalanced, impulsive plan is met with derision, disbelief.

    Duncan's pretty sure he falls outside of the parameters. He's not a devil, he's certainly no angel and he's not a project currently underway. He laughs about the bullshit part, though, as if Lochlan conveniently managed to herd everyone who didn't fall into a specific label as a remainder and therefore still liable.

    He says no in his cool throwaway voice and laughs out loud. He points at me and asks if I think Lochlan has any leverage here at all. I shake my head. He asks if I plan to only accept hugs and comfort from Lochlan and I open my mouth and Duncan answers for me in a thick Scottish bleat of indignation. Of course! I'm Greedy MacHoggish and I can provide everything she needs! 

    I laughed and then I wanted to cry again but the time for that has passed.

    You're going to have to show him your balls, Bridget. 

    Well then I'm really in trouble because I don't have any. I'm a girl.

    You've got the biggest balls of all of us. 

    That's saying a lot of mean things all at once. 

    You going to let him mow you down? 

    He's trying to protect me. 

    Naw, he's only trying to protect himself. 

    From what?

    Bridget, your fears and his aren't all that different. 

    So you're on his side? You think what he's trying to do is okay?

    I didn't say that, I'm just reminding you that the fear of losing someone is huge. Huge. 

    Sunday, 15 September 2013


    I went outside long after dinner to collect all of the dishes from the patio. It's now pouring down rain but if I leave it for tomorrow it's always a bigger mess.

    Plus...OCD, it's a doozy.

    I get down to the lower level at the bottom of the steps and there's Lochlan lying on a sun chair in the deluge, drinking whiskey and water because hey, you can't stop rain after all and he looks up at me, grabs my hands and says,

    I swear to God I'll never break your heart again and please know I mean to keep this promise if it's the only thing I ever do. But I'm going to lock you down now, just like my name. No more devils. No more angels. No more project guys. No more bullshit, Bridget.

    Then he climbs out of the chair, kisses my forehead, takes the dishes from my hands and leaves me there in the rain, paralyzed and in tears.

    Not yours to love.

    (Yes, in fact I think I will make a concerted effort to talk more about what I find on the beach and what I make for dinner because this is tiring. On the other hand, once it's out of my head and on the page I feel like I can let it go and move on the next horrific indignation or whatever the fuck it is that I do all day here.)

    Jesus fucking Christ, Bridget. What have you done? 

    I told you what I'm doing and it's working. 

    You think I can turn a blind eye to this forever? This is killing me.

    Then you should pay closer attention to what I tell you and stop dismissing my ideas only because you can't get it through your thick fucking skull that I'm not a child anymore, Lochlan! 

    I wish you were sometimes, then I could punish you and you wouldn't be able to go off with such stupid ideas. 

    If it's so stupid then why is it working?

    Because it's you, and he'll do anything for you at this point.


    I think your true goal is now to destroy all of us to punish yourself for not being good enough for Jake. That's what I think. When everyone is gone you'll be satisfied that you couldn't be any worse off or hurt any more because you think you weren't good enough for him. You're looking for rock bottom but you don't have to do that anymore!

    Every time I exhale something else goes wrong. I may as well attempt to control it for my own benefit. Dilute my life and my love and then I'm safe. 

    From who?

    From all of you breaking my heart. Over and over again. 

    Saturday, 14 September 2013

    Adaptive evolution/night vision.

    Name it.

    I throw out a figure, padded and tripled. He doesn't even blink so I shrug and say I'm trying to save my family too.

    Done. But the caveat is you go home with the sun.

    I nod. He's grown intemperate over the past little while, always wanting me to stay through until sunrise as if he is afraid of the dark.

    Who isn't?

    I'll double it if it makes you feel better.

    Yes, please.

    He twists my hair up in his hand and puts his other hand under my chin, cupping it, lifting my head up so I have to look at him. What would make it better? Name it.

    I don't know, Diabhal. Just be nice.

    Sometimes it can't be helped, Babydoll.

    Try for me? Please?

    He doesn't answer because he needs a kiss and then I am pushed to the ground. When he is happy enough I am hauled back up by my arm. He wipes off my mouth with his hand and backs me over to the bed, grabbing a velvet box from the nightstand. I am turned and pushed down face-first. I wait as he leans down and fastens something around my neck and then I am turned over again. I pull my hands up to touch it. It's a necklace with a charm. I can't tell what it is but he won't let me up to look in the mirror.

    When I wake up in the morning, crawling out of his hold, the first thing I do is cringe at my reflection in the mirror. I look ruined and wild. Destroyed but not a write off. We can rebuild her, I think. I lean in and look at the pendant. It's a gingerbread man made of white gold. A visual reminder for him to listen to the safe words. A marker for the future. I leave it on the bureau in the tray beside his Breitling as I dress quickly.

    He protests from his dreams. Stay.


    I love you. I'll transfer the money when I get up.

    Keep your money, I tell him, but he doesn't listen. By lunch time the money is there. I get an email from the bank to tell me. I go and log in and it's five times what he promised (and thirty times more than I needed) which was already far more than I have decided I am worth.

    Friday, 13 September 2013

    Heart murmurs.

    Matt and I are the only ones brave enough to keep the owls company tonight.

    What made you choose to be a part of this group?


    So then what are you running from, Matt?

    Everyone's got their secrets, don't they? I suppose I want to get things right. I had a very long relationship once, Bridget. And I waited too long to make it into what it should have been. Marriage was a pipe dream in those days. Now it's an inevitability. My partner wanted it so badly and I ignored that while I finished school and started my career. I don't want to lose Sam the same way.

    He's not the same man though.

    No, but I am. Well, I sort of am.

    But this time Sam is you and you are Sam. Does that feel strange?

    I think I see what it is about you. There are no illusions.  You force us to confront the deepest levels of who we are.

    I don't do anything, Matt. 

    Indirectly yes. You bring out the men we are, instead of the one we think we are supposed to be, or are striving to be. 

    I'm sure that's supposed to be a compliment, but-

    It is! It's authentic. No one wants a fake, a sham of a life. We should all work harder to live transparently. That's one of the things that drew me here. No facades, no games. 

    Oh, there are games. 

    I think those are not what you say they are, not games so much as unresolved issues. Caleb, I know of. Sam struggles to understand your relationship with him. 

    Sam had a front-row seat to Caleb and Jake's animosity for one another. 

    Why? Did they know each other before? 

    No. After Cole died I married Jacob and then Caleb came back and tried to pick up where we left off. Jacob wanted no part of that. Jake wasn't keen on a lot of the guys and our levels of contact. 


    But he mostly tolerated them. 

    Because he loved you?

    Because he tried to find the good in people. Even when there was none to be had.  That's probably what destroyed him, when he realized there wasn't any good in me. 

    Is that what you think?

    Matt, I try not to think too hard about the reasons. It serves no purpose now. 

    Sam told me there are letters you haven't read. 

    If I finish the story Jake becomes a memory. This way he stays fresh. If you don't finish the book you can leave it on your bedside table forever and it's a work in progress. That's the only thing that enables me to smile in any given day, knowing I don't have to end that story. 

    Is it healthy though?

    I'm not sure I care at this point. I followed everyone's orders and now I only listen to myself. It seems just as effective. 

    You're smart, Bridget. 

    No, Matt. I'm tired and I'm scared and it's just better to stick close to my boys and be disfunctional. At least it's familiar. It's safe. 

    Can't beat that. 


    Thursday, 12 September 2013

    Security objects and grown men.

    I think what is so aggravating about Lochlan is that he's the embodiment of everything I don't like about myself. He's a frighteningly hard worker, if only he enjoys what he does. If he doesn't like what he's working on then he's a miserable prick about it.

    He likes flighty, fanciful things but works hard to be taken seriously.

    He tries on moods, opinions and personalities like other people try on clothes. He went for capable, welcoming, together and wound up wounded, fucked up and blown wide apart.

    And they say Sam is my male equivalent.

    I don't know. I think I see Lochlan losing his mind trying to work a corporate gig and be BENevolent (as we're calling it now) and trying to maintain his generous spirit but these torches separately and together are too big to juggle and he's dropping shit all over the place.

    That's hard to watch. Lochlan never ever makes mistakes so when he does it's especially painful. He suffers so quietly I never know what to do to make it better. Mostly I know to be there in his landing place so that I am the first thing he grabs to hold on to.

    Most people have a teddy bear. He has a Bridget.

    I put the money back in his account too. No way is he taking over paying for this. This was a gift to him when we let him in, so to speak and he's not required to contribute financially. He wasn't impressed that I did that but he was definitely relieved. He asked where I got the money and I said Don't. As in Don't ask because you won't like the answer but it's okay because I'm here and I love you and Ben does too and maybe just take a deep breath. Okay maybe another because you're crushing me and I can't breathe.

    He finally fell asleep in the sun this afternoon, still in his button-down shirt and wool pants. Four meetings today and I think he drowned himself in buzzwords and needs to sleep off the inebriation. I know he hates it. I'll wait him out and then maybe we can blow bubbles after dark, unwinding with something magical and dumb.

    Like us.

    Wednesday, 11 September 2013

    What would Bridget do?

    I just noticed Sam is aging. I was looking at the lines around his eyes as he sat in the chair gently tearing strips off me, constructing a straw man so we could argue pointlessly into the night.

    I never said Ben couldn't have faith.

    You said it was Jacob's thing. Or maybe it's my thing. But why can't it be Ben's thing too?

    Because Ben is..

    Scary? Shallow? You don't like being labelled, categorized or marginalized, Bridget. What makes you think Ben would feel any different about what you're trying to do to him with this subject?

    It's too late for Sam's difficult questions and I am busy looking at his caramel brown hair for grey.

    What are you doing?

    Admiring your face. 

    That's a mutual activity. Not too late for us to run away together. 

    Sam, I can't make you happy. I don't like it up the bum.

    Me neither. 

    Ah. Pitcher?

    Depends on the day, Princess.

    You play all positions!

    What sport is this?

    Uh. Baseball. I think.

    Can we change the subject, Bridget?

    Yes. Where did you want to run away to, exactly?

    You pick a place.

    Hmmm..okay. My parents house, circa 1976. The kitchen appliances are avocado-green. I'm wearing a brown turtleneck and jeans with Scandinavian embroidered trim. I'm helping my sister bake cookies. It's already dark out. We're excited about Halloween the next week. There is snow on the ground already. I'm going to be Bugs Bunny. I had one of those epic flammable plastic masks and bag printed with a bunnyesque visage...

    Sam's in stitches now and I'm not sure he's even listening. He's dissolved into hysterics.

    It actually isn't funny. I could have burned. Not like everyone didn't smoke back then, on airplanes and at the bank and in movie theatres. 

    Did you plan on wearing your bunny suit everywhere? 

    Of COURSE. I was five. 

    Bridget, I think the highlight of each of my days is when you present to me the contents of your mind. But we should get back to my lecture. 

    You know, just because they sent Ben home with a temporary Jesus Freak stamp doesn't mean I have to change. I accept Ben the way he is, just like I do with everyone, even you. 

    Even though I'm a pitcher?

    Now is the part where I break your heart and tell you all men are technically pitchers. 

    All of them?

    Yeah, except Daniel. He'll always be a catcher. 

    I'm sure it should bother me that you even know these things but it seems perfectly normal. 

    I know everything, Sam. Quiz me. 

    How long until Ben returns to the Ben you know best?

    Except that. Don't ask me that. It isn't fair.

    Tuesday, 10 September 2013


    We might not starve. Schuyler's bringing Lochlan on as a partner. Schuyler executive-produces...things. Which means that he works for Caleb, mostly keeping an eye on his money. So I can't wait to see how this translates into Lochlan working for Caleb but I've been told to just wait and see.

    Ben will be going back to work as a creative consultant for Batman but he won't be starting that role until after Christmas. For a lot of money. 

    (Because Batman fixes things with money. Neat. I use super glue. Sometimes Hello Kitty duct tape.)

    All of this was told fourth-hand to me by Daniel via Sam, who has thrown himself into playing peacemaker because it excuses him from planning his own wedding. I sort of knew about Schuyler's plans. Lochlan's weirdly good at people-things because he's a showman, an actor and Schuyler's been trying to convince him to come on board for years. Problem is Lochlan actually hates people now.

    And Ben, I still don't fully comprehend what's happening with him. Was he even ready to come home? Was I ready for him to come home? Is Batman really going to take another crack at him so soon? Wait, you think it's my fault Ben can't stay on the wagon?

    I'll have you know he had problems long before he met me.

    Otherwise we're doing really well today. We grocery shopped together this morning, which was fun, the most fun part being where he carries all the bags at once into the kitchen and I don't have to carry any. Usually I make fifteen or nineteen trips and bitch very loudly to anyone within earshot for not helping faster.

    Then we went out for a coffee for lunch before his next meeting. I swear he's been to eleventy-four billion meetings since he came home. But he actually reached across the filthy little table in the cafe and held my hand. He squeezed it. He said to ignore the weirdness, that he will level out. I finally found some bravery laced in my caffeine and asked him about the bible-thumping.

    What do you want to know?

    Are you recruiting? Do I have to-

    No, it's just something that works for me right now. 

    Is it going to work forever or fade after a fashion?

    I'm not sure, Bridget. Why? Does it bother you?


    Tell me why. 

    It feels like you're taking a page from Jacob. It feels like that's his page and it's not for you to take. It also feels like you're going to become someone different and I liked who you were before. 

    A mean introvert riddled with addiction issues. 

    My Ben. My big tough crazy Benjamin. 

    The only person it's not safe for you to be around. Well, aside from the Devil, I mean.

    Most of the time it's okay. I lost this fight before I even picked it, I think.

    No. It's never okay. I made a promise to you to not saddle you with my flaws. I promised to give you a stable happy life and I haven't delivered. 

    So what happens now?

    I work my ass off and deliver on my promises to you by getting and staying better. It's a day to day thing right now but I feel good. 

    Because Jesus took the wheel?

    No, because Jesus took the fucking bottle away. 

    He snorted and laughed with his mouth open so I got a lovely view of pulverized blueberry muffin. So maybe a few changes would be good. I was hoping for better manners, anyway.

    Monday, 9 September 2013

    Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

    Listen to the silence, let it ring on
    Eyes, dark grey lenses frightened of the sun
    We would have a fine time living in the night
    Left to blind destruction
    Waiting for our sight
    That hug went on so long people started to wander off, maybe planning to catch up with Ben later, and then my stomach started to growl and he laughed and said at least my guts are talking to him and don't hate him.

    Lochlan wiped his eyes and said something about allergies and reached one hand out to shake Ben's hand. Instead Ben leaned across the top of my head and kissed him square on the mouth. Then he got down on his knees in front of me and wrapped his arms around my waist. He pressed his head down against my shirt and apologized. Quite formally. Mostly for being away so long but also for trying to balance on the wagon so recklessly that he fell off, for giving me away, for not calling more often, and for leaving us high and dry with the household bills. And for the future grilled cheese he's about to request, because he's starving and no one makes grilled cheese like Bridget makes grilled cheese.

    Then he stopped and waited for me to respond to his outpouring.

    So I did. I can't believe you kissed Loch first, I told him and crossed my arms.

    He was closer. 

    I was in the middle!

    He was still closer. Sorry, you're short. Jesus, sometimes I totally forget how short. 

    Enough! Let me see you. 

    He stood up and just waited, hands hanging loosely at his sides, shoulders squared. All six feet four inches of him. He looks pretty good. I smile and he returns it easily and that pushes me right over the edge and I begin to drop pieces of my composure all over the patio. He tries to pick up a few and then gives up quickly and opts for something different.

    There's my kiss.


    I waited all summer and it was worth it.


    Ben's routine is freakishly busy but incredibly peaceful at the same time. Up early. Meditate. Walk miles and miles. Eat a proper breakfast. Go to a meeting. Go to therapy. Eat a proper lunch, followed by tea and reflection. Then another walk. Another meeting. Writing, probably introspective journaling if you ask me (but no one has) and finally when I asked him if he wanted to come with me to the store, he hesitated. It's not part of his routine. Also, I interrupted his prayers.

    His. Prayers.



    There's no room for me. Jesus takes up all of my space.


    Caleb is neither charitable nor gentle this afternoon when I get so disillusioned I send myself to the Devil's lair for a dose of hardbacked reality.

    He's never been much for my romantic notions of the way things should be, nor does he ever have patience for my hand-wringing over the others. I figured if anyone could set me straight and tell me to smarten up it should be Satan.

    Maybe the whole world has gone insane. He's not much help at all. He is standing at the counter organizing his new tea chest.

    Because...I don't know. Teas need their own drawers, I guess.

    What did Lochlan say afterwards?

    Nothing. He says over and over that he's glad Ben is home now with us. 

    That doesn't make any sense. 

    I know this. What's happening to everyone?

    We're getting old, Bridget. Maybe it's as simple as that. Maybe we all need each other. Maybe some of the drama is unnecessary and we need to stop fighting it and settle in. 

    To what, exactly? Nothing is worked out. 

    Sure it is. We carry on, life goes on from this day forward. 

    What do you do?

    I dabble in a few projects and help you raise my son. 

    Is it enough?

    Where you are concerned, Bridget, never. 

    Okay, so at least you're still normal.

    Sunday, 8 September 2013

    Adorable illusion and I cannot hide.

    PJ put his hand on my shoulder. I was reading and I guess I didn't hear them when they were calling me. I probably did and thought I was sleeping, in dreams but that's because I don't like to admit I can't hear them from out here on the patio and that's mostly why I come out here to read. I turn and he tells me they have a surprise for me. I fold down the page and get up and when I turn around, there's Ben.

    There's everyone. Waiting to say hello to him but he wanted to see me first.

    The pieces of my heart fly together like magnets in space, fixing themselves back to a facsimile of a heart. It works, anyway. It thumps lustily once or twice. I hear grating noises and then wait as it smooths into a steady hum.

    Seventy-five days, Bumblebee. You look smaller than ever.

    I open my mouth but my throat is rusted closed. Finally I croak out. Tilt. 

    What?'re up there. I'm in tilt-shift to you. 

    You're not doing so hot, are you?

    I let my hands flutter. No attempt to save anything here. You left. 

    But I came back. 

    No one comes back. Everyone dies. Oh God. My brain won't engage and my heart won't shut up. I put my hands over my mouth and shake my head.

    He finally comes down the steps onto the patio and pulls me in tight. I'm alive. I came back for you, for us, for them. Only I need you to be the brave one here for a little while, can you do that for me? Keep being brave and I'll get stronger every day and we'll be a family again. One arm leaves my shoulder and then another pair of shoes appear and an arm slides around my waist.

    It's a three-way hug.

    I lift my head and look into Lochlan's eyes. They're glassy, he looks relieved. What a strange world this is. He's holding on to Ben for dear life. It only serves to make me press harder into their arms while I start planning Ben's resurrection party inside my head.

    Saturday, 7 September 2013

    Yay! Leafs win and the boysfixed my sads with drunkenings! Shit hahaha 

    Prone to wander, prone to lash out.

    This is what it looks like when someone's slipping.
    So you lost yourself
    So you lost your way
    Found life through someone else
    But you threw it all away
    A whole morning without power or wifi gave me enough courage to sort through some boxes in the storage room.

    All the boys seem to be working this weekend, or otherwise occupied and so I put on headphones and tucked my phone in my pocket and hit shuffle and I let it play for several hours until I had sorted through Cole's things and then Jacob's too.

    I kept too much.

    I tried to keep everything as if it would be some way to pretend they were both still here. I kept it in case I needed it. I gave away a lot, though. Books, clothing, vehicles, snowmobiles. Hockey gear. DVDs. And then the rest I taped into boxes and I put them in the dark at the very back of my heart and I kind of left them there until I could manage to do a little better.

    I think I've decided I can't and may never do better.

     Opening some of those boxes was like ripping off a scab or ripping open stitches on a wound that isn't even close to healing. I can deal with thoughts of Cole. God bless him, he made it easy. He was so beautiful and terrible and now I have Caleb in Cole's image to fill in the hard parts when I actually do miss him. That was twenty years of my life, you know.

    But Jacob's things I started to pull out and a whole slew of forbidden songs seemed to flood my ears, one after another, and my knuckles turned white and my eyes started to sting and I wound up curled up in a chair mostly paralyzed and I shouldn't have picked a time when Ben isn't here to do that because Ben is the one who's always been best at bringing me back around but maybe there is no going back now. Maybe purgatory isn't where someone goes as they wait for their soul to be assigned, maybe it's where the person who is left behind goes to spend the remainder of their own life. It seems so much kinder then moving on, don't you agree?

    I gave it a good shot but I don't think it's possible. I don't actually have any courage after all, it must have been a reflection.

    I put everything back and then I jammed myself in there beside my Jacob-boxes and I will turn terrible now and refuse to 'get over him' because he meant more to me than that.

    So fuck you.

    Friday, 6 September 2013

    I think they switched brains.

    He tried not to laugh but gave himself away. I had my head in the cupboard, trying to dig towels out of the back. I was singing along with Titanium.

    You're not titanium, you're copper. You're soft, expensive and you turn green in the rain. 

    Gee, thanks. Can you grab these? I hold out a stack of towels.

    He takes them and gooses me. I shriek and smash my head on the inside of the cupboard.


    Ha, I wasn't going to pass that up. You were helpless. 

    Then you be helpful! 

    He sticks his lip out, chagrined and then he smiles. Sorry, Midget. 

    Yeah, yeah. Just wait until I get you back. 

    Argh, shit. Never thought of that. 


    Ben calls early and says exactly nothing. He won't say how he feels, aside from Meh, alright, you? He won't say when he's coming home. He won't say all the things he should be saying. We're stuck in purgatory here while I get goosed by the court jester and flayed by the sadomasochist.

    Can you call back tomorrow when you can talk?

    Huh? I can talk. There's no one here, Bee. 

    Then talk, because you're not. 

    It's hard to hear your voice. 

    Want me to put on someone else? Or impressions. I can do those. So it won't be me. Who do you want?

    What impressions can you do?

    I can't do any, actually. 

    Then I guess I'm stuck with you. 

    Well you were, but then you left too. 


    Like the others. 


    I have to go. Take care, Benny. 

    I fucking hung up on him and died a thousand deaths on the spot.

    Thursday, 5 September 2013

    Ón lá seo amach.

    Before sunrise I get up, pulling on jeans and a warm sweater.  I tie my hair back quickly and follow him outside, down the path. We don't talk much, except when I confirm I hear him when he warns me of a slippery spot where the rain has left pools of water turning the boards slick at the top of the steps. It's not as if I can fall, I'm on the inside holding the railing. My left hand is held tightly in his right. His left hand carries the bottle.

    When we reach the bottom he lets go. It's much more difficult to balance along the tops of the smooth wet rocks all the way across the upper beach at high tide but if anyone can manage it, we can. As long as it's not on an incline I will stay steady. Sometimes it's a blessing being an acrobat but mostly it's a curse.

    When we get to the higher ground the sun brings the light forth. He tugs his top hat down a little tighter over his curls, untwists the wire holding the cork down and aims far out to sea. The cork shoots like a cannon into the waves and he lets the foam pour into the surf for a quick minute before taking a long gulp of champagne.

    He turns back, giving me the bottle. I take it with both hands around the bottom and take a sip. He waits until he thinks I have had enough to make it a proper toast and then he says something I can't remember the translation for but I know it's a wish for good luck from this day forward.

    I smile, passing the bottle back. He takes another sip and reaches down with one arm, pulling me in close against him, turning me so that we are forehead to chin. He looks down and I look up.

    Happy forty-eighth, Locket. 

    Thank you, Peanut. It is, indeed. With his bottle-hand, he indicates the sun now rising steadily into the sky, blinding us, turning the water from pewter to gold.

    Tuesday, 3 September 2013

    (I wrote this all down last night.)

    Post-teenage-birthday, post-mind-implosion, post-shock at Lochlan's refusal to even discuss the issue of paying him back for his coverage of our bills through Christmas. It isn't his bill to pay, you see, we invited him to be here with us. I have great and terrible plans to verbally hash everything out with him tomorrow but for tonight there's a single tiny votive candle on the table, two untouched brandy snifters on each side and a flat refusal to accommodate any more guests, former housemates or FOJ on the point, no exceptions.

    (FOJ= Friends of Jake. Funny how that never applies when Joel shows his unwelcome face around here.)

    I stare down the Devil with my eyes and he returns my gaze so wearily I wonder why he even bothered to pick this fight at eleven at night when August has already crashed out and everyone else has scattered to the four corners to do that late night reading/brainstorming/unwinding thing they do. I have no plans to wake him and make him leave until he's good and ready, for in my mind he's been nothing but an absolute godsend to me in the months and years since flight. I understand Caleb's desires to not add anyone but in my mind that doesn't include ostracizing someone's who's left but then come back.

    That was an awkward way to phrase it but I'm tired.

    I don't want any brandy.

    I just want to go stare at my sleeping daughter and marvel that she is as old and wise as she is at an age where I thought I was most certainly doomed, jaded and ruined already.

    Little did I know.

    And now here comes Lochlan's birthday next.

    Okay, I want some brandy now.

    Satan's mood lifts as he sees me drinking from the glass. Good. Confirmation that he poisoned my glass and not his since he knows sometimes I switch them if he leaves the room. He doesn't look like he's going anywhere and I'm not going to debate this so I dump the remainder of my brandy into his glass and stand up.

    You know what? August isn't staying anyway. Wishful thinking and reality are two different planets and I promised to keep my orbit free of anyone who ever had a hope in hell of crawling out from under my weight. I'm just going to enjoy him while he's here and then kiss him goodbye. And then everyone will be fucking happy and right and vindicated. Goodnight.

    Monday, 2 September 2013

    PJ has a bunk mate tonight but at least this one isn't a) a golddigger or b) John.

    Where you going
    What you looking for
    You know those boys
    Don't want to play no more with you
    It's true

    You're motoring
    What's your price for flight
    In finding mister right
    You'll be alright tonight
    My righteous Jacob-Doppelganger walked in during breakfast and said he didn't have his phone so he couldn't call and let us know he was coming. What a sight for sore eyes. I made him go and strip down and shower and borrow some stuff from Duncan and then he came back and asked if he could make tea.

    No, I'll make it for you. 

    I hear you're sick. I'll pull the tea together, you sit up here and ask me questions. 

    So he did and I did and the others arrived one by one, heading straight to August for those big, slapping, painful brother-hugs they give each other. Soon it was tea for everyone and we discovered that this was the final Burning Man for our August. He won't be going back.

    The stories may or may not have curled my hair to the point where I alternately felt sorry for him and became very glad he's hanging up his burner hat after all.

    After tea and then lunch and then dinner too, I asked him if he maybe wanted to stay on for a few extra days, maybe change his flight, maybe never go home again and just stay here with me, that Ben is coming home soon and we can all be a family again. He wiped his face with his hands and nodded and said he was thinking about it. Really really thinking about it.

    Sunday, 1 September 2013

    Still sick.

    Today we played a rousing round of Peanut versus the Tranquilizer Dart Gun and sorry to say that Peanut lost. Then she stopped moving and you all know what happens when she stops moving..


    (Because stop moving? ME? NEVER.)

    PS I don't have TIME for this! I have two birthdays to get ready for!