Oh, I am a lonely painterWet curls and damp flannel in the dark. Relief. I got us on the last hayride of the night.
I live in a box of paints
I'm frightened by the devil
And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid
I remember that time you told me
You said, "Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
'Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
The 'hayride' is a one-way trip down the highway on a wheeled wagon pulled by a very noisy tractor and it's the only way tonight to return to the campground from the lake. Summer's over. The parking lot at the lake was closed so we walked in in groups but now it's dark and I don't want to walk back. I believe the tractor driver is the Funhouse operator. She's from this area. She said it's full of bears. She said to make sure we were on the truck by eight. We will be.
I smile in the dark. I'm anxious to get back anyway, bears notwithstanding. It got cold so fast.
Loch jumps up on the back of the wagon into a veritable company full of strangers and reaches down his hands to pull me up. We stay at the back. Everyone is older, louder and ignoring us. Passing a few flasks around. Talking about their families, their homes. This is normal. Lochlan settles back against the wooden bench and pulls me in close against him. He's warm. I close my eyes and he throws his head back. We sleep every chance we get.
Then I hear an owl and get spooked. Halloween is still a couple months away. Loch's birthday is in a week and a half. School is in a week. It feels like fall. I don't want to leave him. Something big changed last summer and something bigger changed this summer. I don't know if I can wait until next summer to see what happens next.
My eyes are open wide now, watching the dark sky. Counting streetlights. I lift my hand to mark them and they go out as we pass.
Stop that. He squeezes.
Putting out the lights.
You can see that?
Of course I can. I can feel your energy from here. You're too small to keep it all inside so it leaks out and turns things off. It's like a poltergeist. But it's an emotional one. Tonight it's your fear shutting off those lights.
I thought you didn't believe in that stuff.
Bridget, what I tell people I believe in and what I know for certain aren't always the same.
I don't want people to know anything about us. Mystery is safer.
Why is it safer?
It just is, he says with all the conviction of a soon-to-be seventeen-year-old boy. And with all of the determination of an eleven-year-old girl, I believe him.