Monday, 31 March 2014

Manic panic.

Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly.
Oh haiiiiiii.

Blonde again.

Three boxes of stuff and some deep conditioner and I look just like I did before. Daniel has missed his calling. When I dyed it blue last summer it took infinitely longer to revert because he didn't help. I'm relieved. Weirdly, Andrew and Dalton are even more relieved. Caleb and Ben both asked me not to dye it again. What the fuck.

Priorities, you know.

Since I won't turn off Counting Stars (alternating with Heart of a Graveyard and Invasion because yes I made a playlist with just three songs, dammit) and I figured out all the words (had my hearing aids in just long enough, you see) and I've been singing at the top of my lungs to the point where Caleb went to finish his work in the grotto out front before I texted him and asked if he could put in outdoor speakers there and I would never come inside and he said no, because I'm always too cold to be outside and I never want to be there in the grotto anyway so he's not putting any more money into it.

I texted back that the beach is in the back, so...well, duh.

I've had no sleep and way too much coffee. I also have a stomach ache from eating ice cream for lunch and I spent a good twenty minutes catching Pokemons on Google maps and now as punishment for the music + junkfood + gameplay on Diabhal's time I have to do actual work. Nice. No rest for the wicked, as always and he's already threat-edited half this post.

Joy.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Big screen buffet with a side of Jesus.

Church in the pouring rain this morning. Umbrella wars in the parking lot as there were literal jostles to keep me dry (for the record, I don't think I'll melt. Maybe they're not so sure). Sitting in wet tights. Singing in wet shoes. Ties loosened, yawns suppressed. Collection plates filled with arcade tokens. Next week Chinese chocolate coins. Someone has to keep Sam on his toes. Once we we used Lego. That was fun.

Caleb just frowned when I passed him the heavily loaded plate and tucked his envelope in underneath the tokens as best he could. He leaned forward after handing the plate off, frowning at Lochlan, who was working hard at staying awake. I stepped on his foot twice and he just grimaced from the sharp heel and ignored me otherwise.

Maybe chocolate coins aren't such a good idea. I'll probably eat them all in the car before we make it all the way to church. Good. It will keep my stomach from growling.

Ben is still sleeping. He was up late doing some work and came to bed so tired he forgot to take off his t-shirt and when I woke up it was as if someone went Sous vide? Mais non! BROIL HER! I was gasping for air. Lochlan woke up with a start and then laughed quietly and closed his eyes again for twenty more minutes.

We got Netflix this weekend and no longer sleep either, you see. There are too many fun things to watch, like all the Fast and Furious movies again. Sharknado! The 100. Breaking Bad. I almost stayed home from church to start that one. It was a tough call but I really had to get rid of all these tokens. My purse must have weighed twenty pounds.

This afternoon Daniel has agreed to dye my hair back to blonde. Red is fun but not on me for so long. I miss my silver and gold.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

YES.


My Dear, find what you love and let it kill you.
         ~Charles Bukowski

Salvaged to salvager.

Caleb found an interesting old photo last night. In it he and Christian have me swinging high between them, their arms up in the air, me dangling from their hands. I am about eight or nine in this picture, Caleb is eighteen. I think Cole took it with his pocket 110 Kodak camera. He took that thing everywhere and it was a far cry from his eventual collection of high-end Canon cameras, some of which I still have.

Caleb said he was going to have the photo framed. I just rolled my eyes. Andrew and some of the others kept remarking on it, all evening long.

Look how little you were! I bet they could still do that. Let's try.

Let's not.

***

I woke up in my usual man-sandwich. Ben has taken to sleeping wrapped around my back again but instead of moving back to his coffin position in order to actually sleep he's not moved an inch, waking up warm and suffocating and comfortable as shit. I don't mind the weight, but what little amount of room I have for wiggling is all but gone and soon I wonder if they'll just kick me out all together because they get closer and closer as years go by. Lochlan sleeps facing me, his chin on my head, arms around my neck and shoulders. He heats up to a good hundred and ten degrees each night and basically I'm sure I begin each morning poached, sous vide, and ready to eat.

Fitting, since no one brought me egg mcmuffins this morning. Ben, get your clubs.

I might only be kidding.

We had breakfast on the porch with Sam. Toast. Captain Crunch. Coffee. Bananas. Sam did a little off-the-cuff, off-the-clock counselling and Ben was very gracious considering he has the unfortunate designation of being married to us and all of the baggage we carry around from place to place as wayfaring freaks.

He is the glue, the enthusiasm and the fervent wish for routine and for home that keeps this solidly moving ahead. I don't actually have to fret about being left out. They both do as we sometimes pair off for geographic or argumentative reasons. He does not want to be left behind for historical reasons so it's in our best interests to keep him informed and educated.

One of the things I learned over the past two or three years is that when you are a kid and things happen you are forgetful, resilient and forgiving. You gloss easily. Years go by and you dismiss horrifying betrayals and events as water under the Bridget and then you mature and realize those things (which you thought everyone went through) weren't normal and may very well have had an incredible mark on shaping who you are now.

This is where we are today. Currently both the departures of Cole and Jacob are less terrifying than other things, eventual tragedies sure but not something that shapes a person except in future displays of emotion. I cry randomly now. I can't help it. It starts like a nosebleed and I can pinch my face and sit down for a minute and it passes. Sometimes I just ignore it and stand there breaking someone's heart as we choose lightbulbs or hull strawberries.

Other things come back to the forefront as I struggle to coexist with those who shaped me into who I am today. Are they to be thanked or blamed for this mess? Did Lochlan stunt my growth with all of the candy and g-forces and teenage lust of the early days on the midway or did Caleb stunt it with his own brand of despicable evil, bestowed on someone who surely would have been an angel, had she been left to thrive but instead wound up in some sort of multi-decade game of Stockholm syndrome, symptoms coming and going like the phases of the moon?

Ben doesn't actually care. If he knows all the details then he has more power. If he has all the details then the past can't shut him out, and he can't be dismissed on account of being a bystander. An outsider. A saviour, of sorts. A deliverer from evil. A hero.

I say that with the tears just running and he finally looks at me and his eyes are all but swimming in the soft morning light and he says me? A hero? I nod and he just shakes his head.

I never asked for much. But then I got you guys and realized I have everything now.

Friday, 28 March 2014

McPeace (just a thimbleful of grace for now).

It's still raining. I opened the door this morning to find Caleb standing there with a beautiful bouquet of white roses and a bag from McDonalds. A big bag. When I opened it I saw a dozen egg mucmuffins and as many hashbrowns.

Flowers? What flowers? The way to my heart is a seventy-thousand calorie breakfast path.

But then he asked if he could join us and I hesitated before saying yes, always tipping toward acceptance for Henry's sake. He followed me into the kitchen and Loch stood up so fast he might have been sitting on a spring.

Caleb put the bag on the island and then apologized to him and then to me for engaging in very poor timing to rehash a very old fight. Loch is indifferent and cold but accepts it. We're trying very hard to live with this and every cog in the wheel is just one more thing that keeps this from being some idyllic dream compound like what you'd see in the movies. Caleb puts out his hand and Lochlan shakes it and PJ exhales slowly, probably glad he doesn't have to play bouncer again, always.

I get a brief brotherly hug and we are digging in.

I almost forget to put the flowers in water. The kids mow through their food so quick it's unbelievable and disappear again to play Minecraft with Christian. He is blowing up everything they make. They love it. I find a vase and point to it and Ben pulls it down from the cupboard and then he is off too and soon it's just three of us in the kitchen because PJ has joined the gamers after eliciting a firm promise that we won't kill each other with sharpened English muffins.

Caleb asks if we would like to talk it out. Formally. Maybe with an objective party or someone of our choice. If we can get past the parts that keep the resentment on the front burner why wouldn't we want to do that?

Loch says no, we deal with things in our own way (Sure do, Loch. That rug we keep sweeping things under is hella lumpy, no? It's also eight feet off the ground now) and I nod to back him up, not to agree with him but Caleb won't know the difference even though he's staring at me as I watch for Loch's almost imperceptible cues and follow suit.

How did you do it? Caleb asks quietly.


Do what? Loch's losing patience now. A breakfast sandwich only gets you so far. He passes half a hashbrown to me and I eat the rest of it instead of taking a bite and passing it back. He should know better but when he holds his hand out again and I put the wrapper in it he just stares at me like I am the smallest, most wicked potato thief in all the land.

How did you manage to get and keep her loyalty? It's not as if your overall treatment of her was all that stellar, thinking broadly. 

Some things are meant to be, Diabhal, and you shouldn't mess with them. Lochlan meets his eyes and does not waver now. He holds the gaze of the Devil and he holds control. If there is only one thing in his miserable life that he can control, this is it.

Caleb returns it with a struggle but an admirable one. I have underestimated both of you. 

It's not that you did, it's that you keep doing it. You need to step back and realize you can't buy this. You'll never have this. Lochlan's words are so sharp I have to fight to keep a blank expression because they're cutting everyone in the room and when I shift my gaze to Caleb he is staring at me.

You can't have her. 

I don't think he even hears Lochlan but Lochlan says it anyway. His confidence in this one thing is contagious and I hold Caleb's gaze to show him Lochlan's right. There's to be no more changing teams, no switching sides. If I go to him it's on my own terms and not his and it will always be temporary. Fall asleep happy, wake up alone. What's the dream in this? Oh, right, it's better a rare Bridget than no Bridget at all but Caleb has already recovered from what tiny vulnerability he allowed to slip out just now for all the world to see.

I'll continue to make my remunerations, of course. I want you both to know I'm committed to atoning for the mistakes of my past. 

Lochlan reminds him he doesn't want his money.

Well, you may not want it but you need it, Loch. I want assurances that Bridget and both children will not be forced to live within a strained budget. It brings peace of mind for both of us. Leave it, please. For now. 

Loch nods, relunctantly. He's not anxious to begin the fight anew. No one is. We're old and tired and on the verge of almost being pleasant. Had Caleb not brought McDonald's for breakfast I'm sure I'd be kicking discarded heads off the cliff right now, my sneakers covered in blood. Ben, with his golf club, sticking it hard into the sides, metal sinking into soft brain matter, leaving a sticky, suction-thwock noise as each one comes away.

God. It's too early for this shit, isn't it?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Bringing forth a war.

Ben didn't let us get so far last night and I made a rare executive decision to delete not one but both of yesterday afternoon and evening's short posts. You didn't miss much. We sat out front watching the rain from the relative coziness of the porch, sipping on some whiskey (Ben had iced tea) and then Lochlan and Caleb started in on each other and Ben told Caleb twice it was time to go.

Caleb ignored him so Ben went and picked up Loch (right up off the ground because he wouldn't go willingly) and took him inside to the care of PJ and Sam, and then by the time he came back out, I had taken over from where Lochlan left off and Caleb and I were fighting wholeheartedly about the past. The Big Ticket Things this time and Ben got an earful he probably didn't need, one which I've probably never formally discussed with anyone, preferring to gloss whenever it comes up because damn, the past hurts.

And we were hurling it at each other in great big spiky mouthfuls that landed hard, every blow. Leaving marks, leaving blood but we couldn't feel it because of all the whiskey. So Ben listened for two whole seconds, told Caleb if he didn't go back home right that second that Ben would throw him in that direction and then Ben picked me up and carried me inside. I was still yelling all the way across the front hall and into the kitchen and then he put his hand over my mouth and told me it was okay. That I could stop.

Then he waited a few extra dozen seconds to make sure I actually was going to stop.

You good?

Yes, we've settled our differences.

It sounds like it! What are we going to do about this?

Nothing? Leave it alone!

Is that how he escapes scrutiny? He points at Loch. Because you won't address it?

He isn't under scrutiny!

Maybe he should be. Maybe we all should be! Didn't we already go through this? First with Cole and his abuse and then with Jake and his massive lockdown that had you so far hidden that when he killed himself it still took us DAYS to find you!

DON'T YOU SAY THAT!

Bridget, I-

JUST STOP IT. STOP IT!! 

They threw themselves around me then. All of them, Ben included. I couldn't breathe enough to shout anymore. The group hug sucked all the air right out of the room.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

And then there's this:



I died. Lochlan went oh, fuck, seriously?! and everyone else kind of rolled their eyes and mumbled stuff about Game of Thrones defectors.

(I love both but in a fair fight I'd pick AHS, speaking honestly.)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

(wait for it...3....2....1...)

JESUS CHRIST, BRIDGET!

Doomed from the get-go.

Look at us now
Are you happy with the way that things
Are going around here?
Are you happy now?
Opened my skin, made a claim of revolution
Then you let yourself back in
Look at us now, are you saddened with the way that
I am carelessly unbound and still happy now
Opened my skin, made a claim of resolution
Then you let yourself right back in

You are such a beautiful thing
When you're helplessly crying your eyes out
And I hope that there's a better man inside of me
But I'm starting to doubt that there is.
It doesn't matter that my thighs and arms ache, his fingers dig into my hips as he goes for broke, his teeth denting my skull, hands sliding, slipping. If we're not going for broke we're at least headed for home and abruptly he slows to a crawl and starts to talk. I cry out in protest. No. No no no. I don't want to have a discussion in the middle of this. I was having so much fun. He takes one hand up from where he has me trapped beneath him, tracing my eyelashes.

Please tell me you'll stop. I don't need that period of my life spilled all over the internet.

I need to work things out.

I'll buy you a notebook to write in. A diary. Something offline. He lets go of my face and kisses up my ear to the top of my head, picking up speed again. Unless you have good things to say too. You never say the good things.

I don't need to work out the good things.

Maybe we could focus on those instead. He isn't listening anymore. He does this. He works out his issues with me in the middle of this, a time when we should be focusing on talking less and there's nothing I can do about it.

I should have known from the first time when he slowed to a crawl, pulled me up into his arms so I was straddling his lap, looked me in the eyes and said, I shouldn't be doing this, you're too young.

It's okay, I said. I want this. 

You can't. You don't even know what you're doing. I'm going to hell. 

I threw my arms around him anyway and he tightened his hold. If you're going, I'm going with you, Locket.

Monday, 24 March 2014

On going too far and (almost) never looking back.

This took place after this but before this. I'm skipping all over the place, my apologies. It details the space between my big plans for reuniting with Lochlan properly and the darkness that swallowed us whole for a second time. Some things we can't get back, we have simply accepted this and forgiven each other anyway. I've grown up a lot. And weirdly I don't look back on it with sadness or anything for that matter. It happened. It was sort of a punctuation mark to that entire part of my life and now on to the next. We took a long break from each other after this. I started a family and a blog. And now here we are. The break is over, the past is history, the future was told (but no one believed her anyway) and it will take me the rest of my life to catch you up.

***

The music is loud and the club is dark when we are let in through the staff door. We are led through a small crowd. It's still early, the place is just beginning to fill up. As we walk I see different rooms with different stages. Burlesque dancers on one. Contortionists on another. We walk endlessly and I don't know how we'll find our way out when the evening is over. The room at the end opens up into a wraparound bar and several stages that reach out into the room, small semi-circles several feet off the ground. Everything is painted black and everything else is glass or silver. A curtain hangs in front of each stage. They are transparent but black. Okay. Okay.

Lochlan points to the ceiling. Listen, Bridget. I stop and pay attention. It's Echoes. Pink Floyd. Okay, focus on the music. My heartbeat slows and we're left backstage to get ready.

Loch is relieved. We're not the main event. I nod. I knew we wouldn't be, somehow. We're out of our league. We're children playing an adult game.

He takes the first half of the payment, all five one-hundred dollar bills and tucks them into the band of my bra. Then he kisses the top of my head, whispers showtime and the lights go out.

By the end of the night the entire place is jam-packed. Lochlan languidly rolls me in flames and licks them out. We don't actually go any further than that. We simulate a lot of things but we do it with such tension and chemistry that the crowd seems to like it more. They're holding their breath. The music pounds through me as Lochlan leans me back over his arm again, my hair brushing the floor before he pulls me up and I take the flame from him. His arms are strong but his eyes are unfocused and mildly apprehensive. He's not able to have much control, this is far too distracting and we're hanging on by a thread in reality, having giving up our plans to do the big tricks. The curtain precludes the big tricks even as we welcome the barrier it creates between us and them.

But the crowd doesn't care. The crowd just wants him to touch me. He looks handsome and evil and I look small and innocent. Every time he comes close the whole room pitches forward, tipping the balance and I wobble, afraid I'm going to slide into a darkness that never ends. His grip on me is the only thing I feel besides the fear and so I focus on that, just like I did when the world was bright and smiling and we got to be acrobats and it was oh so brief I blinked and the lights never came back on.

When we are packing up his tools at the end of the party the manager comes backstage. It isn't the man with the cane, it's a big young man, covered with tattoos. He looks like a caricature of a biker from a comic book. He hands Loch the rest of the money, five more big bills and asks if we will be a standing act. That we're good, people really liked it. Lochlan nods and pulls his ear twice which tells me to follow his lead so I smile wide and thank the man for the opportunity.

You, little lady, are amazing. He tells me and I grin stupidly but want to cry.

Loch shakes his hand and mumbles something about a taxi and off we go as fast as we can find the exit through a rabbit-warren of smokey rooms and lingering staff. I somehow don't expect us to make it out alive but then we do. Loch hails a cab and we jump in. The driver makes us pay up front. I don't blame him, we are covered in sweat, with matching smudged eyeliner and strange outfits. We go back to the rented room. Loch is keyed and manic, ecstatic. He shakes me and tells me how incredibly hot we were and we didn't even have to do what they thought we were going to do. I think they thought we were already there at one point. Even better. We can make so much cash this way, self-respect untouched. I'm so proud of you. He holds me at arms length. You are amazing. They couldn't take their eyes off you.

I just stand there, stupefied. I don't want to go back to that place. I don't want to watch them watch us and think we're doing things we aren't. That's sacred and precious. They don't get to see that. Why would they want to see that?

I break away from him and go and be sick all over the sink in the bathroom. He comes in and swears and then pulls my hair back. It's okay to be scared. Remember?

I remember those words because he said them at the bottom of the ladder too. That was the circus I wanted. Not this one.

You'll have to get someone else. I can't do this.

There is no one else. I can't just get a replacement. It's us. There's something about us. Besides, I couldn't do that with someone else.

It's not for sale. You sell us out for a thousand bucks? What's wrong with you?

We came here to make money. I found a way to double it!

The net profit isn't enough, Loch. Shut it down.

Net profit-what? This isn't costing us anything.

Think again! You may have something to prove but I don't!

And you're the only way that's going to happen.

Then I'm sorry but I can't help you. I can't do that in front of them.

Then don't do it for them. Do it for me. Do it so I can go back home with my bank account full of gold and I can shut Caleb up forever and punish him for what he did to you.

You're using me to ruin Caleb?

No! Jesus, no. I just want to be on even ground with him and his bullshit and the above-board shows pay nothing.

But the only way you can pull it off is through me?

Bridget. You're missing the point. With you by my side I OWN this town. They're going to remember me. I can get better gear with this money and have more time to hone my routines and apply to bigger shows and get back above ground and stay there once I'm established. We won't have to do it for long, just until I can get ahead of things. Okay? Come on baby. It's just like old times.

It isn't like anything else we've done. I don't like it Loch.

Tough. I did things your way but this is where the real money is, Peanut. Time to grow up. He grabs his jacket and leaves, slamming the door behind him but then locking it too. That part hurt the most, that he made sure the damn door was locked. By the time he came home I was packed, had shoved my bag under the bed so that he wouldn't see it and was pretending to be asleep. He crawled into bed, wrapped himself around me and fell asleep, thinking he'd convinced me somehow, in his absence.

He had not.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Bits + peaces.

(He knew before he forced me to admit it and then he took out my braids and cut my bangs. You looked too old like that, he said. He didn't say anything else after that for a long while, because he was too mad. Not at me, at himself. That was when he learned that my curiosity is a force to be reckoned with and reckon we have.)

I am directed to sit on a small wooden backless chair in front of a mirror while she braids my hair. Lochlan had to take a twenty-four-hour man shift and has gone ahead to the next town to put up flyers and distribute early-buyer discount tickets and so I am charged to remain with the fortune teller and will meet him there with the rest of the show.

Her real name is a closely-guarded secret. She's in her forties, single and makes really good tea. She said she wished for a daughter once but I have taught her children are nothing but worry. She doesn't like me all that much and I don't like her either but she is safe and Lochlan puts that before comfort.

I know this and so when she tells me to sit up straight because handsome young men like Lochlan don't like hunchback little girls, I do. I tell her the only things Lochlan doesn't like are when my bangs get too long and when my stomach growls really loud because he feels guilty.

She tsks and undoes all the braids and goes to work on braiding my currently too-long bangs right into to the braids so they aren't even there anymore. I look wide-awake and kind of surprised. Older. More mature. She puts a stack of graham crackers in my hands and stops talking for a while as I eat and she works on braiding all of my thigh-length heavy hair. When she gets to the bottom of each braid she secures them with three heavy elastic bands each and then wraps the braids around and around my head, pinning them together. Then she gives me a pretty scarf to wrap around my neck and asks if I want to try a lipstick.

No, thank you, I tell her.

You look better, anyway. Once you reach womanhood you are supposed to pin your braids up. 

Womanhood?

Sleeping with men. No longer virginal.

But I haven't-

Oh, I keep all secrets, darling don't worry about me. 

But we never-

Brigitta, darling-

It's BridGET-

It's so obvious. Young love, your tiny little camper, the fact that he never lets go of your hand. You should know your future though, it's important-

No, thank you. 

Did he tell you to say that? Because he told me not to read you. Men like Lochlan are practical and they will deal only in things that are easily proven. 

But he wants to be an entertainer! An illusionist! He does tricks and he believes!

She just laughed. You let me read your fortune, I could explain that for you too. She puts her hands on my shoulders as if there are things she needs to tell me but she needs permission and my guardian has expressly forbid it. But since I'm an adult now, with my braids pinned up I can give it.

Just once, okay? Don't tell him. 

You don't tell him. You're the one who will have to live with this, not me.

What do you mean?

Come and sit at my table and don't you ever breathe a word of what I say. Someone has to look out for you here, because he won't be able to when he must and because there are things I see from here, without even trying, that tell me things are going to become difficult and knowledge is power, my dear. I'd like to give you a fighting chance.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

"Who cares about pretty?"

I saw this in a store window this afternoon and wish I had it at home on the wall. One light short of full power, they'd say and laugh but at the end of the day it's true and I'm not sure if that's all I can hope for or a grievous insult. I'll go with hope, since I'm learning how to use, it, wielding it as a heavy, awkward weapon against the usual crushing doubt. I'm working very hard at trying to be a capable human, because good is simply never good enough. Good is what default should be but I want to be extraordinary and unforgettable and...well, brighter.

I want to be brighter so that they have to shield their eyes and burn my image into their retinas and see nothing but me. Then and only then will I be content because oblivion is a frightening thought and I haven't had an impact yet in my young life, no, not at all.

We went to see Divergent this morning, as empty theaters are the best kind, you see. The popcorn was fresh, the fountain pop terrible and the movie fantastic. Just fantastic. They out-acted the screenplay, I almost sobbed out loud at one point and damn the heights, it was worth it. It was well-fleshed out compared to the book, tons of chemistry, the perfect teenager movie only none of us are teenagers except for the actual kids but they loved it too. I always get very nervous before a beloved book opens on the big screen but this time I was pleasantly surprised to see things appear the same as I pictured them in my head when I read the words.

So good I'd like to go see it again. Maybe tomorrow when my lights come back on.

(Also in movie news, a lot of people sent me this today. Thank you from the bottom of my twelve-year-old heart. Seriously.)

Friday, 21 March 2014

I see a never-ending weekend of beavertail* jokes coming up.

I knew today was the right day to put on actual clothes and so I am buttoned up to the chin in my most plainest black dress with ten thousand tiny black buttons, black tights giving me spider-legs and a black ribbon around my ponytail but the bow fell out and I can feel the tails hanging down over my shoulder. My black boots are by the door, with a hundred more buttons between them and the hook sitting on the floor but I probably won't be going anywhere because this week I am quarantined, pinned and otherwise unavailable.

But both my favorite boys are home. Sam and Daniel! Wait, I mean Ben and Loch. 

*(Damn it. The other ones bring me the aforementioned pastries I love so much.)

I have a vintage lace handkerchief in hand for full effect. Lochlan rolled his eyes when he saw me dab at my nose through breakfast and he asked if I was just about done mourning my own health and should he go build a coffin?

(Because Lochlan has no patience for this. He must be feeling better, he's so fucking cranky. He also doesn't like my usual day wardrobe all that much, honestly.)

Yes, please, build it for two, so I can kill you first and then we can be buried together. I snap at him because he knows I have issues with things like coffins and death and still he needles me.

No one gets a coffin. They get a box and get burned to ash and then I can eat the ashes. No burial. No cemeteries. No headstones. No engraving. No plots. No sticking someone you love so badly into the ground like they're a fucking tree that's going to grown and flower and thrive because that won't happen. They're not coming back. At least you can go to bed at night with your arms wrapped tightly around a little sealed (HA) box and that's better than nothing at all, or at least better than lying in the cold, six feet down, all alone.

They've tried to talk me out of things like cremation. Ah well. Everyone has their own opinions. Mine are just so loud. They're so loud I can't get past them and I get up and start to leave but he grabs my wrist.

Sorry, Peanut. I get ornery when I start feeling well enough to feel but not well enough to do anything. 

I know, Locket.

I let him off the hook as he lets go because he's right and I'm impossible and then Ben says Basically if she doesn't get outside soon 'nice' won't be a choice, it will be some long-forgotten memory of how Bridget used to be before she became the Fever Beaver from cabin three at Lake Echo Campground.

It sent both of us into sprawling laughter punctuated with harsh coughing.

From where? Loch recovers first but barely.

I don't know. I just made up a campground. 

Fever Beaver? 

If the shoe fits, Bridge, I mean water-logged microbeast. 

So sweet, with such a fantastic bedside manner, Benny.

What would you do without me? 

Be classified as a different species, at least.

Ha, you got a ways to go yet, Peanut. (Loch joins him because what is teasing someone if you can't get a whole tableful of meanies ganging up on you at once?)

Sam (whom I love unconditionally, take note everyone) brought me a beavertail an hour later. It made everything better. Especially the part where they all asked for a bite and I said no. 

:)     (<---still so sick it took me a good ten minutes to figure out why my smiley face was so lopsided. Italics for the win, because I refused to listen to my editor, who said to put conversations in quotes. No way.)

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Social monsters.

I was granted a brief Skype-Cough session with Duncan this morning. He said he's doing a lot better, he's settled into a routine now that's working. On days off he plays tourist and visits antique stores. He says he'll be shipping a box of treasures home at the end of the month. He says I should be excited, that he found the creepiest, neatest little things for me and we'll have to figure out how to get around customs because half of it is probably banned for being things like dead creatures, black magic and/or simply offensive, like the vintage band t-shirts he found from a band Ben was in for three whole years but they were three wild, horrific years and so a closeup cartoon rendition of Ben's eye and his middle finger are on every goddamned t-shirt I've ever seen from them.

Ah, but these are different, Duncan says. They're in German!

Ben just rolls his eyes and heads to a meeting. While we were in bed for two days I introduced him to Instagram and he's become an unintentional senior citizen with his use of hashtags now because he missed my explanation on how to use them.

(Neither one of us have Instagram but some of the boys do and we can still look at their pictures. Yes I had one for a while but was convinced to shut it down.)

When I'm done on Skype I check my phone to see what time Ben will be home for lunch and this is what he sends me in lieu of actual words.

#sexbot #imissyou #thoselegs #youhavenoassthough

Hey Benny, just say the words. Those are search terms. They don't work in SMS. 

#sowhat #imcoollikethecoolkids #weshouldmakeasextapewhenyoufeelbetter #pervy #hot #2hot2handle #Bridget #hotwife #mineallmine #Tucker #polyawesome #filthylittlething #thighgap #belieber #lickitup #damniwishIwashomebecausethesetagsaremakingmehungry

Seriously. This is what I live with. 

(See the #belieber in there? He was paying attention. You put that on a picture you get more hits, according to those in the know. I don't know but that is fucking funny.)

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Fever couture.

Today for breakfast I was served a heaping portion of Can't Breathe along with a side of Fuck My Life and a half-order of Near Death. Refills of Runny Nose were free.

Woo.

I saw the teaser for the Peanuts movie and I squealed. Snoopy was almost my first tattoo but then I bailed on the idea. Thank God. I can't imagine poor little snoopy surrounded by all of these skulls and wings and bottomless song lyrics. He would have felt scared, out of place.

I saw the trailer for The Maze Runner. I'm struggling to read the book. It looks so good. I can't wait. And we get to see Divergent in three more days. I ate those books in one sitting.

No music today. My ears aren't working at all. No, the hearing aids don't work, the congestion has completely obliterated just this one sense. I wish it would work on the sixth one instead of the second (I always list sight first, okay?). I may have to put a sign around my neck. Every time I've asked someone to repeat themselves, instead they make the suggestion of helping myself.

Sure. I'll help myself. Get me a a rag and a fresh bottle of chloroform.

In other news, Ben somehow magically didn't jump up and run out the damn door this morning to five meetings and three doctors and then lunch with his sponsor. He's still in bed, here with me. Arm around my hips, snoring into my shoulder. He needs a shave and a haircut. I won't let him get either. (I like him sort of wild-looking, truth be told.)

And now I'm going back to sleep and maybe I can find him in our dreams.

 I'll get up later, for dinner maybe. It's pizza night so that's a big draw, next door at Danny and Schuy's house. I will not get dressed because pajamas are the new look for spring. If they complain I will leave and bring the pizza with me. I've done it before.

Ben will probably threaten to show up naked. He's done that before too. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Micrometal (married all the wrong guys).

Tell me that your final home is not a shot in the dark
Tell me that your hopes and dreams don’t end
In the heart of a graveyard
If you mix together Woods of Ypres and Breaking Benjamin you'll get Demon Hunter.

Just saying.

As hard as Jake and Loch have ever tried to sway me over to the lighter side (and I go willingly, you know this) PJ still rules my heart with his endless metal bands and this week it's all Demon Hunter because of the new album coming out tomorrow. It showed up a day early and he squealed.

No, literally. He did. I think he broke something. It looked painful.

The album has been on a loop ever since. I love it and won't let anyone turn it off so he's just hanging out beaming like a proud parent. I'm pretty sure it was a challenge back in the day. Make the little one a Metal Queen. Good luck, Pyro's got her started on that sappy shit already.

Okay, PJ said right goofily, because he really has no idea when someone is making fun of him and that's fine because over the years PJ has earned a lot of respect for doing the one thing no one else has figured out how to do yet.

Wrangle me.

I think I like this album better than he does. Who's hardcore now, Padraig?

Happy happy Saint Patrick's Day. Still sick, doing nothing. :(

(And yes, to those who've asked already, PJ was like this long before he met Ben. He was only starstruck for the first five minutes, like the rest of us.)

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Proximity alarms.

An outsider would think us strange and somewhat wonderful and profoundly disturbing, but fully trustworthy too. Caleb walks into the kitchen while Sam and Ben are deciding whether or not I am well enough to go to church. Caleb crosses to me, putting his hand on my forehead and frowning before pulling me close for a good-morning hug.

No one bats an eye at that. His affection is like seeing a unicorn or the Aurora Borealis. I hang back in his arms and look at him. He looks well. A tweaked regimen of sleep, diet and exercise and some further tests have yielded a bit of a reprieve for his physical being but for some reason right now, looking into his eyes, I don't worry about what happens when he dies because I don't think it will mean his absence.

I know he's hypnotizing me and I let him. It's like a drug and for a single moment I'm not fluttering, tripping, hyperventilating.

But I'm not well enough for church either. Lochlan never goes so he's a little bit joyful that we get some time alone and so he asks Caleb about the horses. Warning him of the work involved. Telling him if it's a whim that's going to end too briefly then not to bother because both Bridget and the children will get attached and then to have them ripped away would be too much.

Horses are considered incredibly therapeutic. Caleb says without looking at Loch. He's still calming my soul while I have it. Staring into my eyes. Still rocking very slightly, back and forth and finally, reluctantly he lets go and it's like a trap snaps shut, my body stuck firmly in its jaws, my soul escaping but just barely, to remain with him. He smiles and turns to address Lochlan's concern.

They would be retired horses to have a good life in whatever time they have remaining. Of course I had no intentions of adding to the workload around here. We could hire someone to look after them or if the other Jacob or maybe John would want to take it on as formal employment I am..open to discussion. He shoots his cuffs. He's going to church so he's in a suit. He goes every few weeks with us. Henry likes that.

I giggle. I don't know if I can look at John and know he's the stableboy. 

Worst case scenario we recall Asher. That would probably please the mighty Batman to no end. 

He doesn't seem like a horse guy to be honest. What about Mike? It would be a good part-time thing. 

Bridget, this is how I know you're the smartest one of all. I'll give him a call later today and see if he's interested. 

Okay. 

I'm off. See you later. 

She's busy later.

Perhaps this evening then. We can go over the plans for March Break. 

Sur-

She's busy then too. 

Have a good morning, Loch. Caleb dismisses him coolly and gives my cheek a quick kiss on his way by. Get some rest, Princess. This is why you keep getting so ill. You know, all you have to do is say the word and you'd never have to suffer again. His eyes turn dark and hard, covetous. Obsessive. Longing. The un-charming parts of him that make me afraid. He leans way in close to wait for my acceptance but he isn't going to get it.

Gingerbread, I whisper in his face. Safe.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Just when Lochlan lulls me back to the safety of the good memories in my brain, Caleb throws a wrench into the works by appealing to the parts of me Loch can't reach because of the limitations of mere mortals.

He's decided to build a small stable, just behind the garage because the dead orchard is mostly a waste of space and runs from behind the garage and the east side of the boathouse all the way around and up to the main road.

Maybe enough room for two or three horses, he says. I point out that he sold my horses and besides, we really don't have room for them here.

Sure we do, he assures me. He's still smiling.

Did you know horses can't vomit? I ask him and he laughs and looks at his shoes. They're probably made of my old horses.

No, Bridget. I really didn't know that. 

Anyone who owns horses should know things like that. It's important. I tell him and go back to watching Lochlan try some new tricks from my vantage point on the porch because the rain is really coming down now but as usual he's still practicing.

Friday, 14 March 2014

When it rains it bores/Cranky when I'm under that weather.

I didn't mean to worry anyone but apparently I've been light enough on words this week that people are becoming concerned, first with my trip to New York and then relative radio silence thereafter.

I would love to write endlessly but right now I'm a little fed up with myself. I've been sick. More than a little sick but not sick enough to warrant antibiotics like both kids and all of the boys, just sick enough that I want to cry and don't have the strength to stay awake or open jars or anything since I came home and when I sit down to write it's an endless stream of complaints and I'm just not feeling it right now but as soon as I decide I don't care what it looks like or I feel better enough to actually fill you in, I will.

I generally still write more than most bloggers so if you're so enamored that you get mad and/or worried when I don't write enough to satiate you then by all means, pass my link along so I can get a big old book deal for writing my heart right off my sleeve and let's get some quality literature out there instead of an endless supply of bullshit crap like 300 Sandwiches or Brit + Co. Make Sandwiches or My Cat Is Trying To Make Me A Sandwich or whatever the fuck is up there now on the #&#@@%* 'bestseller' list.

Oh right. It was Overheard in the Elevators at Conde Nast/Facebook/Google/Goldman Sachs: A Conversation About...Sandwiches.

Thanks! But thanks more for your sweet concern. Sometimes I feel like you come for the schadenfreude and then I realize you actually care. :)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Momentum.

How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.
                      
~Bram Stoker
The cherry blossom trees started blooming this morning. It was almost an audible pop in the sun.

I was out front, sitting cross-legged in the driveway while Lochlan tossed lit batons over my head, same as always. I was trying to read. My headphones still on, music up loud. If he missed and caught me on fire, I probably would never know it because I don't pay attention to the things I should.

Caleb asked for a pass on my insolent words and his nefarious deeds, half of which he said were preemptive, the other half necessary (bullshit).  He got it of course, because how can anyone resist her? Because how are we all supposed to live normal lives when this tiny giant interrupter flits among us?

(I don't know-

Shhh. Put your headphones back in, sweetheart. The grownups are talking.)

And yet he felt it was fitting to walk me into boardrooms, me in my stilettos with my little head full of market trends and intentions for his ventures because this will become the foundation for something else, and so I was paraded in as a fresh face, as an object.

If the others allow for a little business mixed in with life but no, there won't be any more trips for a little while. No more suitcases and planes and time zones because I don't feel like it. I'm still failing at fighting off this cold. I would have stuck the stilettos in my eyes if anyone would have let me and since March break is coming up I think I'd like to sleep a lot.

Or sleep at all. That would be great too but Caleb feels like I should learn everything I can about managing a private equity firm because he's evil and insane.

Neither, is what he says he is, but simply concerned about the future.

I nod off against my book and flinch awake. Lochlan swears and throws away from us. Then he goes to collect his torches and asks if I fell asleep. I said I did and he tells me March break is coming up and I'll get more sleep then when things are less hectic.

I frown at him because I hate platitudes. Especially ones that clearly aren't true.

He frowns back because he really picked a winner. I'm still furiously annoyed but falling asleep on my feet now instead of on my ass. But then I see the flowers on the trees and I think that means everything will be okay.

It has to be, doesn't it? At some point there has to be a break in the clouds, even if I have to make it myself.



Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Lost in the shadow of an endless grace.

I will fail you, of that I’m sure
I will remind you of the pain forevermore
And when my sins are just a memory
Faith restored
I will fail you to the core
I flew back alone. One person, one plane. The carbon emission people or whoever the energy shamers are will come and get me now. I sat with my hands clenched in my lap and one song on repeat on my headphones as loud as it could possibly go.

I kept my eyes closed and I didn't open them until someone touched my shoulder because we were on the ground. Someone had brought me a cup of tea while I sat with my eyes screwed tightly shut. Wonderful people.  

It's getting harder for me to fly (especially alone) and yet I made it the whole way home without touching the pills. I still intend to poison the Devil and so I will need them all.

He wasn't happy that I left but he didn't stop me either. I had enough and I screamed for my passport while he stood there trying to tell me that he loves me.

He kept repeating it and so I kept asking. I could have gone all night but he gave up first. He's getting old. I am not, forever stuck at twelve because that's what the Devil does, he finds you and keeps you just as you are for all eternity because he doesn't like change.

No one does.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Fine during daylight.

It's a shitty spring day here in Manhattan and I'm being as difficult as humanly possible. First I asked for a cronut for breakfast and someone actually brought me one. Then I asked for some Xanax and they brought that too (a. full. bottle.) but I didn't take it, I'm going to save it and use to poison the Devil tonight during dinner.

And then I won't have to listen to his endless instructions on how I should act while we're here.

Stop rolling your eyes, Bridget. 

Get your feet off the chair. 

Sign here. And here. And here. Initial here.

Wait here.

Come with me.

On your knees.

Stop crying.

And then I get some more champagne and maybe a trip to FAO to soothe my frazzled nerves because twelve. Because I didn't want to fly, not into a major city known for acts of terrorism waged within its limits while there are whole planeloads of people missing in the world, not without at least even Ben to be a buffer between us but it's only two nights (of crying) and then we get to fly back home to safety and I can put away the drugs and the poor little gutter rat turned rich princess act he loves so much and go back to who I am in real life because this ain't it and whoever thought it was a good idea to trot me around the country using what was supposed to become my money to fund ventures that I don't even understand is cracked.

He tells me the return is worth it, not to worry, he's good at this. He tells me he sacrificed being good at anything mostly in his personal life for success in his finances and I believe him, truly I do. I countered that I sacrificed everything for love and he laughed in my face.

You're a witch, he says.

If that were true you'd already be dead. I tell him and drink myself blind before lunch.

But hey, we're making money and Jesus Christ is he ever happy about that.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

There are no good guys here.

(A gift from 1995.)

He sat there in his top hat, vest, ripped jeans and smudged black eyeliner, cigarette dangling from between his fingers, warm stolen beer in a bottle in his other hand, trying to talk sense into me.

I'm standing against the canvas because who is going to listen to an angry freak magician in eyeliner? He looks evil. He looks mean. And I think he's lost his mind.

It's a lot of money, Bridget.

I walk to him slowly, take his cigarette, put it between my lips and walk back over to my side of the alleyway. I lean against the wall, closing my eyes, sucking smoke back into my lungs. It gives me a headache but so does everything these days.

Fine. I drop the cigarette on the ground and cross my arms, pulling my shoulders up close to my ears. He jumps up and crosses to me, putting his arms around me, telling me I am doing the right thing. That we can do this. We've practiced. Everything will be alright.

This isn't the right thing. This is some weird underground thing and we have no business being mixed up with these people. Plus this isn't a show routine, it's an x-rated routine. Adults-only. This is a line I didn't think I'd be shoved across.

The door opens and he lets go, turning around. The manager steps down into the crowded alley and gestures to Lochlan. Your fire breather. Loch tips his hat and nods at a rather tall, sinister-looking man with a cane. But the man with the cane isn't looking at Loch, he's looking at me. I stare back with open hostility but say nothing.

He points the cane at me. What about her?

She's not exactly part of his formal routine-

Her, I want her. 


Loch, tell them to fuck right off. I push out from the wall and stand tall, all five feet of me. I am shaking.

The manager shoots me a dirty look but the man with the cane breaks into tinny, stilted laughter. He sounds like dry leaves scratching a windowpane, like death.

I don't mean it in that way, dear girl. I want the two of you to perform for my guests and you will be renumerated quite handsomely. If my guests are pleased I will offer a standing date with you for the same money. 

No, more. If they like us they'll want to see us again so our rate will increase fifteen percent. Also we get paid the day before. 

Ten and I don't pay freaks in advance. Why would you show up?

Code. I'm not a thief. 

Yes, you are, dear girl. A thief of hearts. Are you together?

No, I say and Lochlan says yes at the same time. I roll my eyes.

Ah. A lover's quarrel. Perhaps you can use that as material for your routine. Three hours, beginning at nine sharp. No drugs. No weapons. Half payment when you arrive, the other half when you leave. Do we have an agreement?

I look at Loch and he nods. We'll be there. 

The men turn and go back inside and I walk across the lane and shove Loch into the wall. What the fuck are you doing? We're going to get killed. 

He smiles that smile that makes it hard for me to breathe, dimples on high, eyes rimmed in black and I know he's picturing the nights he stripped me from my clothes and practiced a slow burn.

I can't wait to light you on fire for an audience. 


Friday, 7 March 2014

And we could go back to the way it was
And sacrifice the way it could be
We could fall apart or we could fall in love again
He didn't say a word. We made love, we slept. We got ready for our day this morning together and then he took Ben up to an appointment and said he'd bring me back a treat. He brought me back a slurpee (cherry cream!) and I thanked him profusely. Then I took a nice long pull off the straw and went to my knees with the worst mindfuck of a brain freeze I've ever had.

And Lochlan laughed. He laughed until he had tears in his eyes and then he said to me,

It fucking serves you right.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Favors.

Four in the morning and I'm sitting on the Devil's lap, feeding him birthday cake as he sits with his back against the headboard. I'm still making a valiant effort not to get it on myself or his sheets even though it's too late. He doesn't care. His hands slide up my thighs and he laughs as I jam a piece between his teeth with my fingers. I break off another but he shakes his head and tells me he isn't hungry for cake anymore so I shrug and eat it instead. I love cake.

He bends his head forward and kisses my chest, putting his hands up to cup my shoulders and pull me down against him but I fight to remain upright. I'm not finished the cake yet.

Yes, you are finished it. He laughs. He is delighted, wide awake. I knew you would come. 

I haven't come yet though. I shock him and he laughs.

Why are you here, Babydoll? I haven't had luck like this in years. 

I don't want to talk anymore. I get up off him and he follows me, pulling me back, turning me to face him, putting his arms around me, kissing all the little places that make me die a thousand deaths of thrill each time. I taught him all these things while he was busy pretending he knew it all, losing nuance for force and tenderness for strength.

He's much better now but I still fight him off.

I have to go. That's enough cake for one night. 

I want an established night to look forward to. Monthly. weekly, whatever it takes. Something no one can argue with. 

Then you would otherwise not ask me?

No, I would ask you more. All it takes is a taste and I'm left wanting more all the time. 

That's how I feel about cake.

So marry me and I'll give you cake every single day. Call this the end of a grand experiment and be where you belong. With me.

I belong with Lochlan. 

Then why are you here? 

I shrug. I'm a masochist. I look up into his face and he's not smiling anymore.

It's the mixed messages from him, isn't it? Lochlan brings you up weird and then abruptly demands that you conform, and be normal. 

No, you messed me up good and now I can't be normal. 

I never trotted you out as a freak, Bridget. I never encouraged you to stand under the hot lights and let people gape at you for whatever tricks you could do for them. 

Semantics, Diabhal. 

I wanted you to be a freak but only here, and only for me. He bends his head down and kisses me again, icing and all. His stubble hurts like hell against my skin and I can feel myself curling up on the inside like a fortune teller miracle fish party favor. All red plastic and cheap wax envelope and bullshit magic meant to entertain for seconds rather than a lifetime. A prize in a Christmas cracker. A blink and you'll miss me. A snapshot with a flash, blown out, killing all the details in favor of begging to capture a moment that's already passed.

I let him lead me back to the cake-covered sheets and I let him pretend whatever he wants until sunrise while I lie in a sugar coma haze, naming the movements as they happen, telling my own fortune, which isn't a fortune at all.

Passionate.
In love.
Jealousy.
Indifference.
Fickle.
False.
Dead.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

I'm never going back, the past is in the past.

(You're only going to understand the last conversation here if you've seen Frozen.)

Hey. Don't worry so much about the amount of punch-throwing the boys do, they've been doing it since they were born. I first witnessed a bad umpire call when I was nine that left both of them duking it out in the gravel by the concession stand long after the game was over.

They were on the same team.

They proceeded to throw punches over every little thing throughout the next three and a half decades, right up through and into yesterday. It's a thing. I have visions of them in a nursing home in old age, tripping each other's walkers over and laughing hysterically when I'm long gone.

Ben thought it was hysterical but he finds everything ridiculous in his sobriety.

Ignore him, Bridget. He loves you. He wants what's best for you. 

That is bullshit and you know it, Benjamin. 

Then ignore it, he can't have you? 

That's better. 

Lochlan took it differently. He lay in bed half the morning singing Let It Go.

Conceal, don't feel-

Hey, Locket.

Don't let them know-

Oh my God, please stop singing. 

Well, now they know....let it go, let it go. 

I think I'm going to cry. 

Why? What's wrong?

I have one apathetic wagon-riding husband, one Disney princess and one demon to contend with. I wish the earth would swallow me whole. 

But what will we do when you're gone?

GET ALONG, Loch!

Ha, now there's a movie no one's ever going to make. 

Too fantasy-based?

You betcha.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Death threats, broken glasses and an unsalvageable Valentino dress. Here's a birthday that will go down in history.

Looking out for love
In the night so still
Oh I'll build you a kingdom
In that house on the hill
I took my turn when it came, standing, holding a glass of champagne, flushed almost as red as my dress by then from two full glasses, as I watched the Devil sit and smile at me virtually all evening, except when he would turn his attention to the speeches made by each of us, as is birthday tradition.

I told him I was proud of him for slowing down, for knowing when to focus on his health and put his somewhat thoroughly redundant business efforts aside. I brought up his generosity with myself, both children, and with Loch. With Daniel. With Duncan. With all of us. I said I hoped he would find happiness and health and a long life ahead in which to do all the things he hasn't done yet. Someone called out for him to list something he hasn't done yet and he answered without skipping a beat.

Get married, he said as he stared at me and I wrapped it up and sat back down so hard I feared I bruised something.

Oh, but then Loch stood up, ignoring his champagne and his four-times-empty whiskey glass (not to mention the fact that it wasn't even his turn). PJ asked the servers to cut him off half an hour ago. Maybe we were too late. He clears his throat and addresses the birthday boy.

There once was a man from the East
at a fifty-first birthday feast
He tried taking my wife,
So I took his life
And that! Was the end! of the beast!

And then he flipped the fucking table like it was nothing.

And Valentino and I took a shower in champagne and broken glass.

But it's okay, no one cared about that. I think they forget precisely how acrobatic he is, as he went right over the sideways table and tackled Caleb off his chair.

And then it was over, because you have to be pretty fast to get a punch in with this crew sitting between the two of them. Mostly I sat there in disbelief and gratitude because we didn't bring the children. Ruth gets bored. Henry didn't want to go but wants cake later. Thank God they didn't see this. Would he have done it if they had been here?

Another restaurant off our list as we are asked to gather our things. Right away. Caleb leaves his card for a damages tally. I consider making a glass angel in all of the shattered flutes on the floor but we have to leave.

Outside the restaurant Caleb takes my hand and pulls me behind him and then drags me down the sidewalk toward Lochlan. PJ tries to hold him back, Christian is trying to extricate me. Too close. Schuyler steps between them. Christ almighty.

Caleb points over Schuyler's shoulder, right in Loch's face.

I try to be generous with you. I put up with no small amount of abuse and after everything I have done for you and to make it up to Bridget I think you should either learn to control yourself or I'll start excluding you from everything, including my home. You'll learn these lessons one way or another, Lochlan. Bridget will be coming home with me. You don't even deserve her. What in the fuck have you done in the past decade anyway? What do you do to make her life better, you fucking useless piece of-

You keep talking and I'll never speak to you again, I say to Caleb as I wrench my hand out of his and fight my way out of Christian's grasp too and shove my way past Schuyler, crashing against Lochlan in my ruined dress. The look on his face is frightening. Everything he fears most is playing out and I don't even think he has registered that I'm right there until I touch his face.

Let's go home.

Bridget, we aren't finished here. (Caleb keeps it going, just because he can.)

I DON'T FUCKING CARE, CALEB. You did this. You baited him. Who else do you want to marry?

Most people let it roll off. He's uncontrollable.

No, your brother was uncontrollable. Lochlan is just frustrated, he has a short fuse.

Ah, another fire metaphor.

See you tomorrow. We'll reschedule dessert.

I ignore the shocked and disappointed look on Caleb's face as it dawns on him that his night is over as Loch pulls me to the truck. He lifts me up into the passenger seat and then goes around and gets in. He's slamming the doors so hard I think the whole thing will break but then once we're in he just sits there and stares at the wheel.

And then he starts to laugh. He drags his hands down his cheeks and collects himself and then he winks at me. That was exhausting.

Why did you do it? On his birthday, of all nights. What purpose does it serve? And why did you ruin my dress?

The purpose was obvious. and fuck the dress. You don't fucking need that dress. You don't need anything from him. Had I not done it you probably would have gone home with him tonight.

You don't know th-

Yes I do. And I told you it's not going to happen anymore. But it's easier to fucking stick it to him if he thinks it's your decision not to go, don't you think? Probably hurts twice as much! Maybe five times more.

So that was a routine.

Yes. A means to an end.

You're not drunk at all, are you?

Actually no. Everytime I came back with a drink it was tea. Jesus, Peanut. You're missing all your cues. Getting rusty. Maybe we should go back out for a few months, find a show before you lose all of your skills.

Maybe we should. He might kill you otherwise.

Nah. He's an old man. And I have fire on my side. He'll burn before he can touch me.

Better hope you're not rusty then.

That, Bridgie, is why I practice every. single. day.

Monday, 3 March 2014

51 candles.


More of this, please (linked for those who read on mobile).

No time to write today. In the celebrated red Valentino dress and I can't actually breathe. Heading out to dinner en masse. Then home where I will change really fast to serve birthday cake to the Devil because I wouldn't dare do it in this.





Sunday, 2 March 2014

Thou art dust.

Sam asks me what I'm giving up for Lent this year like he always asks even though Easter is a sort of minefield for Unitarian ministers and everyone else alike. Last time I checked I walked a rather casual lapsed-Baptist line through town but if you ask some people I'm a heathen, a Satanist, an outlier.

It makes me laugh because I'm nothing but I answer the same way I answer him every year.

I'll give up the Devil. 

And then he'll ignore that and get right to the point because Sam wants pancakes for dinner Tuesday night and all important events are merely gateways to food in the end, aren't they?

This week will be very busy school and work and foodwise and Caleb's birthday tomorrow and I fucking HATE pancakes with the heat of a thousand suns because my mother never made breakfast for dinner and so my pancake education came from diners and McDonalds alike, where the pancakes are so sweet they float though they look like they should be salty and greasy and taste better than they actually do.

We're having pancakes, no worries. And Wednesday morning you can give me the copper box so I can grind ashes into my forehead and masquerade as a mortal like the rest of you.

Tell me what's wrong, Bridget. 

I want to sleep. 

Are you going to tell me what's really wrong then?

I smile tightly. I'm okay. I just need PJ to hurry up and get his stuff off the counter so I can bake. 

Want me to move it?

No, he can damn well come and do it himself. I've asked twice already. 

I'll ask him again. It'll be gone in two minutes, okay?

Less than a minute later PJ clears the counters and then Sam wipes them down for me and I sit at the island and try and hyperventilate in silence. I fail and Sam drops the towel and comes to rub my back. Inhale deeper, Bridget. All the way down. What happened?

I just tried to think past the end of the daylight. That's all, I swear. 

Overwhelmed?

Yeah. 

Want me to get Loch?

Yeah. 

Loch comes in from outside, hands covered in grease, boots full of snow and slush, hair full of rain, flat curls pressed to his neck and he sees my face and grabs me in a hug.

Hey now. The future isn't scary, Peanut. It's fireworks later on. It's a trip around the wheel in the morning before breakfast. Orange juice and sausages and fried eggs. We'll get slushies when it gets too hot to move and then when it cools down we can have a walk on the beach. You can tell me about your progress in the book and then I'll tell you a story about when you read to me when I'm old and my eyes get bad but for today...for today it's only a worry about hunger pangs and sunburns and nothing else. Nothing at all. Sunshine. Stars to count. A funnel cake if you're up for it and maybe some singing later by the fire. What color flames would you like tonight?

Blue. I'd like blue. 

Blue flames, some marshmallows to roast. Nothing past the early part of the week. One minute after another. 

Slushies.

Slushies, baby. 

My book. 

I can't wait to hear about it. 

They're all dying, Lochlan. 

Not today they aren't. Everyone here will be here tomorrow too. I finally have the nerve to look at his expression and it's grim because I scare him. He's holding it together by a thread.

So I cut it.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Sunrise guys.

Duncan finally called me.

At 5:45 this morning because time zones. He doesn't plan ahead. I thread my phone down under the covers with me and talk quietly into Lochlan's neck while Ben's arm rests uncomfortably under both our heads.

Cozy. Not sorry.

Dunk. Are you okay?

I'm fine. I'm just getting old and if I'm going to do this I had to figure out a way to do it without being fucked up all day and straight all night. You know? 

I know. 

I just want to be efficient and good and not needing a bottle on the table out here but then when I tried to just put it away I couldn't. 

You can come home. I know someone here can hook you up with something local. With Ben. 

Naw, I'm good. They're supportive. They had warned me a couple of times already. I think they're relieved. 

But you don't have to do it there. 

Do what? I'm just learning some new things. Ben makes a lot more sense to me all of the sudden, you know? 

I turn my face and look at Ben's sleeping face. I don't know but I think I understand. 

We want to be good men, Bridget.

Good Humans. 

That's right, Good Humans. What comes easy for men like Lochlan isn't easy for guys like us. 

Loch took his knocks early in life, that's all. He never had it easy.

True. But you know they say we're all more resilient when we're young. 

That's bullshit. All it does is become responsible for how you finish growing, how you are molded into the person you become. Later on it's simply bad luck or bad planning or both. It doesn't shape you in development.

Your brain is complicated.

Just like the rest of me. 

I'll think on that for a while then. 

Not so long. Will you call tomorrow?

I'd like to. 

Okay, please don't do it at quarter to six in the morning.

Jesus Christ! I'm sorry. Why did you answer it then?

Because it was you.