Thursday, 31 December 2015

Starting my resolutions early.

The morning is bracing, the walk exceedingly slippery, but I am here for my morning tour because it's the final one of this year.

So many lasts, to be followed by so many firsts. This is bittersweet.

Caleb keeps my hand tightly in his as we walk. I keep sliding off rocks and into knee-high holes. He keeps threatening to barge over heavy machinery and remove all of the rocks and driftwood from the beach. I remind him that there are no treasures to be found in clear sand. He shakes his head and resumes walking and I rush to keep up.

You need to take some time to seriously consider my offer, Princess. 

My heart contracts and flexes out again when he uses that nickname. I can't do that. You didn't think this through and so you're only hurting yourself. 

Bridget. I have information you need and yet it's important enough that the only way you will still be speaking to me after you learn it is if I am legally tied to you. 

That bad, huh?

Pardon me?

Did you push Jacob? Did you murder Cole? I don't see how anything you have to reveal now would change anything. Who does it concern?

All of us. 

My fingers are ice and my mouth is dry but my eyes have no problem welling up and giving me away. I don't want him to see that I'm upset or scared or angry. I want him to squirm and suffer wondering how I feel but I have no practice in this and I'm out of my league, over my head and soon to drown in his blue eyes, as usual. This is hard, when he becomes gentle and patient and slow.

This is hard.

Does it concern Jacob?

He looks out to sea and then nods ever so slightly. Had I followed his gaze I would have missed it.

My chin quivers but my voice holds. Then keep it to yourself.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

New to earthquakes.

We had an earthquake last night, and I have bacterial pneumonia, which was masquerading as anything but that and so much for that stubborn cold/flu/tiredness thing, hey?

But it was very thrilling last night to be standing in the kitchen and suddenly feel everything move and not be fainting in the process. Like everything moving. At once. Floor, walls, cupboards and people. And the rumbling-roar. I thought someone was bringing a truck right into the foyer. I thought the dog was chasing the cats or that Lochlan and Caleb had taken their fight to the floor again. But then it was over and our phones lit up with earthquake news. Holy smokes. I've been through a few good hardy hurricanes in my life but this was a whole other beast.

Our supplies are not nearly enough, I think today. What if we had to leave the point? What if we couldn't? Not a fun thought so quick, let's distract and forget about it all until the new one. It will make me feel better.

(We actually are stupidly prepared. unlike most folks I have spoken to.)

The fainting was somewhat normal. The pneumonia is being treated with better antibiotics in bigger doses and Ben is being an absolute sweetheart. So is Lochlan. Mostly because instead of considering Caleb's latest proposal I have rejected it out of hand and instead leveled my own demands on him. How dare he assume I would accept whatever asked in exchange for information? How dare he make them worry like this?

If it's something important that I should know then you should just tell me. Otherwise I don't see how it affects me now but so help me God , (insert death threats here) if you haven't told me something I should know. 

I said the same thing to Batman, who suddenly wants to mind his own business. Right. Okay.

Ben and Loch said the moguls are just messing with me and I believe that too so I shut it all down, shut them all out and instead am loving doing very little, being spoiled and getting better. Thank heavens we made so much turkey soup. It's fantastic.

I hope there are no more earthquakes though.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

I just realized he's still calling Caleb Lucy. As in Lucifer. That's when this crosses back from frustrating to unbearable.

I know my soul's freezing
Hell's hot for good reason
So please take me
It was easy enough to play the scared card and he backed way off, stepping away into the edges of twilight where it was hard to see him but I could breathe a little easier. My chest squeezes hard in toward my heart and I want to make things better but this wouldn't achieve that. This would make it worse.

Take all the time you need.

(How long will you live? That will be the time I need.)

Please come to me if you have any questions.

(Why do you do this? Why can't you just let her be. She was TWELVE, for Gods sakes.)

I hope you'll consider this very seriously, Neamhchiontach.

(In what universe could I even hope to consider this? This isn't serious. It's ludicrous.)

I nod and try and breathe. When I go back into the house Lochlan tells me I look pale.

It's cold.

If it were, you'd be pink, not whitish-grey, Peanut. He looks unimpressed so to actually impress him, I faint.

I hear the yelling (why do they always yell?) and I try to sit up but I don't think I have any energy left. He pulls me up and I lean against his chest, my back warm suddenly. I felt so cold. I don't really understand. My fingers are icy. My eyes burn.

What happened? PJ leans down in my face.

She was outside with Lucy. He probably poisoned her. Loch's voice is so ragey sometimes. It makes me sad. If only he knew.

I shake my head. Psychic overload. Like the lights. 

You didn't put out any lights, Peanut. 

The night is young. 

Not for you, it isn't. He stands me up but holds on tightly, picking up one hand and waving it comically toward PJ. Say goodnight, Bridget.

Goodnight, Bridget, I tell PJ and I am taken to bed.


Batman was right. Why did he know these things? What else does he know that he isn't telling me? Why would Caleb think his latest proposal would be something I would ever consider in a million years? Oh, but for my horrible curious streak I wouldn't understand but sadly I do. Perfectly.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Today x 5

-Today I spent quite a few minutes twirling around the Alexander McQueen boutique all by myself, an oasis in a sea of noisy, fighty shoppers who kept bumping into me to the point that Caleb finally stepped in front and barreled through with a scary look on his face that spread the crowd like the red fuckin' sea.

-Today I've had a piece of cinnamon toast and a bowl of spicy ramen and that's it and I'm starved but dinner is a free-for-all because lunch was bigger than usual. Was it? I'm not sure. Plus it was right at noon and usually on days off lunch winds up at threeish. I'm so discombobulated.

-Today I learned Lemmy (Ian) Kilmeister died after finding out he had cancer on Saturday. That's terrible but he lived and rocked hard and he's already missed. Ben's been playing Motorhead at top volume ever since we found out. Ben was so in love with him. Everything louder than everything else, after all. We have matching hoodies with that on the back.

-Today I still feel a little like I'm being dragged around my life caught on a truck, scraping on the pavement, ankles bumping slack over potholes and pedestrians. I am slowly feeling better but it's coming in half-percent increments spread out over days each so don't hold your breath for any great new year resurrection here or anything.

-Today I took pictures and didn't worry too much about anything, not the drama of the past week nor the uncertainty of the future. I just wandered and looked and watched and let everyone make decisions and I let it go.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Oh, hey. Drive-by because I'm still Christmasing and refuse to stop.

This Christmas was downright blissful with all twenty of us on the point enjoying what somehow morphed into a four-day pajama party thanks to the snow/rain and general level of contagion here. We didn't have any visitors and we hardly ventured out, save for Sam and Ruth who had to work a little, and Ben who caved in and made a Burger King run because he's incorrigible and wanted a spicy chicken sandwich. But it's okay because two hours after that he ate half a pie.

I just looked at the pie and gained a few pounds. Oh, and then late last night we finished the chocolates only to take apart the box for recycling only to find a whole other trayful underneath. More chocolates! Yay!

The wrapping paper we managed to flatten into a tiny bagful. The turkey we boiled down to a pile of little bones and made soup from, though the soup went into the freezer because there's still five platters of actual turkey in the fridge to be eaten.

We could nuke the road at the top of the hill and never have to leave the point again.

And I have been snuggled to bits.

It was perfect.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Very gentle wolves.

(Your semi-annual reminder: I can't really write about all of our family Christmas traditions because I try not to write about the children so please don't find it weird that it seems like they don't exist here on the page. They're the center of my universe, I just afford them the utmost privacy. I protect them. I am the mama bear.)

Once again the laundry is up to date, I made poached eggs on English muffins for breakfast and my nose is really so stuffed I think someone filled it with cement when I wasn't looking because I can never breathe but my bloodwork came back fine, blood pressure a little high and I have an inhaler and some more antibiotics and I'll get better eventually but I pretty much live like I described yesterday and that's why I get run-down and then get sick. This many people living and working together means germwise we're only marginally better than an elementary school.

Actually, nix that. We're probably worse.

I thawed some icy hearts with the egg mcmuffins and on the rest I used my honesty. August doesn't get in trouble because he did nothing wrong so I took my lectures right up front, facing-forward, openly and without apology. Crossing lines? Always. Inappropriate? You betcha.

Anyone actually mind?

Nope. When she's gone they get sleep. When she's near they get comfort. Company. Something to hold when you feel like the planet is going to fling you right off.

Lochlan doesn't like any of it but still made the terrible suggestion that they set up an invisible fence that would electrocute me if I went to the wrong areas.

Didn't you already try that and I got blown off my feet?

We'll keep it to the inside. And that wasn't me.

You forget there are places inside you don't want me to go.

(I keep my cuddles to safe targets. I can only imagine the outcry and resulting implosion if I went and cuddled with Sam, or Duncan. Or PJ. I actually miss my PJ cuddles. He locks his door now. Keeps out my demons, he says without meeting my eyes. Oh.

August isn't a safe target, Lochlan tells me. He's a Jacob-clone. He's an enabler. He comes across as wanting you to be healthy but he's as sick as everyone else here.

You really are in fine form today, Lochlan.

I just wish you'd stay put.

Nothing has changed in thirty-five years of him saying that. But he's just pissed because I accepted an invitation for some eggnog tonight at ten from the Devil. Like I said, I don't want anyone to be alone at Christmas. He's going to be around the house all day every day but at night he'll go home across the driveway to his own bed. They think this works but I know the lonelies attack in the dark when you're by yourself and all the bad thoughts come crowding in to dismantle the hard work you did in faking it or being cheerful or at least being constructive.

That's when they come and I feel like if I can't stop mine just maybe I can stop theirs.

Now I have to go and start cooking because I'm making eight tourtieres and a big bowl of hot crab dip for tonight's dinner. We were going to have lobster tonight but there's no room left in the fridge. Or in Sam's fridge, or Caleb's or August's or the big professional series one next door at Schuyler's. So much food. I feel very thankful even though I have to eat with my mouth open and my hand up over my face these days to maintain politeness because breathing is such a struggle.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

No gift to bring.

Ugh. Up at four-thirty for God knows why. Did all of the laundry, fixed the broken Christmas ornaments and tackled the mending pile. Wandered. Saw a light on in Andrew's room across the yard and several at Batman's. Ate a banana, got heartburn. Went outside. Stupid sun won't come up. It must be stuck. Maybe someone can give it a push later. Rolled downhill into a little hole and also got stuck. Contemplated dragging the driveway toward me but at the other end is the boathouse so instead I pulled toward the right and eventually climbed out of the hole long enough to make it up the steps to August's flat. Knocked five times as per instructions when I can no longer speak. Stomach hurts. Head hurts. Heart hurts. Christmas hurts? This is new. He opens the door in boxers and yesterday's t-shirt. Arms out. Hard hug without an ending. To be continued. I drop back in the hole but he's got me by one arm. I'll be okay.

He mumbles something about getting me better drugs and maybe a SAD light too and leads me to his bed where he crashes hard, one hand still grasping my arm as I dangle on the edge of sleep at last. Fall into dreams of some other big Newfoundlander with an accent thicker than whipped cream, more colorful than a rainbow. Cry in my dreams. Wake up to August holding me so hard he cracked my ribs. Head feels clear, stomach doesn't hurt anymore.

Not supposed to be here.

Not supposed to use him as a surroJake but he's the closest I will ever get ever again and frankly I don't care and I don't think he minds any more than he used to. Gave him something he needed too. It's Christmas. No one should sleep alone.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Arghhh. Leafs lost 3-2 to Arizona. FFS. But I still made money.

Winter carnival.

Lost all innocence
Infected and arrogant
You burn all your life
(There's no telling you)
No deliverance
Consumed by the pestilence
Of hate, you're denied
Deep in your heart does it still remain?
Do you think you can bring it
Back to life again?
Is it still in your soul?
(No saving you)
Where's the deviant
The unholy revenant
That has made you this way?
Made you fall for this hate
I don't actually celebrate winter. Sorry. I've lived in places that were colder than Mars. I was born on a peninsula on the coast of the Atlantic ocean with the relentless wind and snow and I learned to drive on ice before I learned how to properly fuck and yeah, okay. I miss winter.

Alot. Which is hilarious because it's a claustrophobic, helpless feeling to be trapped indoors against the elements, counting meals and candles and hoping the power stays on and the furnace keeps lit and maybe we should have a better backup plan or tickets to Bali or some such thing that could save us when it gets so cold even the mental demons take up refuge right inside our heads, shivering.

The kid in me misses the snow, I guess. It signaled a break from work. Ever seen a Ferris Wheel covered with snow? Me neither but I think it would be beautiful. Imagine the lights. Instead it's packed away in little pieces in a warehouse because Lochlan said it would rust to shit if let outside in the elements over winter.

Yeah, wouldn't we all be ruined if left in the snow?

That's why I'm here now. Back to the beach only rarely do I have the heart to make them hear that it's the wrong beach. Wrong ocean. In a place Lochlan left for a reason but a place from which it's easy for the rest to do business. Close enough to LA without having to live there (God forbid) and yet still here, in Canada because I refuse to leave. Sorry boys.

But it's winter today. Officially. So...wooo? Let me dig out a light sweater. Let me marvel at the fact that I still haven't put on shoes to walk to Daniel's house across the backyard because I don't actually need them. Let me laugh at people warming their hands on lattes and standing in store lineups in Uggs and long down-filled coats and toques. What fucktards. This isn't cold. I can show you cold.

Lochlan says the cold is in my eyes. That I'm suspicious of change and disdainful of things I don't understand. He's careful not to call me harsh but that's what this is. All of it.

Happy winter.

Definitely on the wrong list this year. I wonder if I'll get any presents? I could ask the Devil (he would know) but he would also give me everything without even blinking, except for the one thing I ask for.

Because he would be cold now, Caleb tells me. And that wouldn't be good for you. 

And you are?

He laughs. Of course I'm not. 

Monday, 21 December 2015

The end of the high point. Going to bed now.


The Leafs won 7-4 against the Avalanche without hardly trying. Joel bet wrong and had to pay me everything in his wallet plus an IOU. I'm going to go into business as a bookie and go 1:2 odds on every game. Because DAMN.

Maybe they can turn this fledgling season around. Maybe I'll stop resenting Joel so much.




(Good enough for my walk on the beach this morning.)

Ben is stacking driftwood. We make sculptures out of it. Lean-tos. Houses. Huts. Swear words. Boxes. He's quoting Baudelair's Windows as he works. It's sort of depressing but poignant. The sea is swirling in this storming, cloud-filled morning. She's dark and angry, disjointed and unsatisfied. I kick her in the teeth as I'm unsatisfied as well. Two pieces of glass and an empty crab shell is all she had to offer me even as I gave her my heart, destroyed as it might be. It's been repaired but it's of higher quality than most. She shouldn't complain so.

And I can't breathe, even as he gets to my favorite part: "In that black or luminous square life lives, life dreams, life suffers."

I sneeze and he interrupts himself to bless me, waiting for me to thank him before he resumes. We sometimes rely on pleasantries and courtesy to bridge the gaps between being able to connect sufficiently, fully-emotionally. We sometimes don't talk when we're alone together, trying to figure out after all these years how to exist on a common plane without constantly taking things from each other. Time, comfort, solace. Flesh.

When he is done ("But what does it matter what reality is outside myself, so long as it has helped me to live, to feel that I am, and what I am?") he says, that's it then and takes out one of Lochlan's zippo lighters and sets it on fire. I look up to see that he has made a Christmas tree. It's ten feet high and three-dimensional, topped with a nearly-dead starfish we found on the steps. It's beautiful and it's smoking now with the effort of trying to keep a flame pressed to cold, salt-soaked wood. It's meaningful and worth it though we will probably get another ticket for illegal burning on the beach even though this is inaccessible private property and none of anyone's business because nothing is in danger. It's relevant and righteous and bitter and loud, is what it is. Because that's Ben and eventually Ben catches up to all the rumors and the talk and the snippets of life and love and drama and he says enough, she's mine anyway and he shows his teeth and the wolves all retreat back into the shadows of the woods at the edge of the sea.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Missed the lighting of the fourth candle but also finally excused from any more singing.

(Too sick today, sorry.)

Ben traced the steering wheel bruise on my back this morning while I lay face down in bed lamenting another visit with the old Russian doctor later in the morning. When I see the doctor he takes my blood. I'm sure he plans to drink it to retain his youth or something because in reality he's probably well over a hundred years old and just appears to be in his seventies because that way he blends in.

He says we'll have the results in a day or two. Just making sure none of my levels are elevated, making sure there's enough iron. Making sure there's nothing worse going on as I fight off the worst colds and flu-bugs of my life, seemingly one after another. My kidneys do a poor job and when they aren't causing problems the headaches come and fill in the gaps.

Exhaustion, scolds PJ.

Stress, Lochlan says softly.

Violence, Ben offers unhelpfully as he covers my back up again, pulling the blankets up tightly around us. He's wrong. There was nothing violent about my encounter with Lochlan in his truck. I climbed into his lap just as he was getting ready to leave and he can't resist me. I might have strained against his hands at one point, as people do when something feels very very good. Ben is always a little put out if he isn't there to see it for his own eyes and incredibly quick to protect me if I come away injured.

Caleb thanks the doctor for his attention and tells me I get so run down, why don't I rest more, and sleep more or at least take better care. There isn't time, I tell him. We can sleep when we are dead. 

He frowns and lets go. There's no use trying to talk to me when I get like this.

Ben pulls me into his arms and keeps me there. I like it, it feels safe. He is present lately. Attentive and kind and here. A little break for Christmas. He only allowed a half hour to go and see the doctor and then I was to come right back and I did as fast as I could, switching to a soft t-shirt and long-john bottoms and crawling back into the bed. Loch has promised to come up as soon as he's done bringing more wood in with Gage. PJ said we could come collect dinner later and take it up. Ben puts on a movie and says something but I was asleep again before I could process what I heard.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Thanks for easing up on whatever you were giving him. Also, no spoilers because we haven't seen it yet either.

I might have had sex with Lochlan in the front seat of his truck in the pouring rain this morning with both doors open and the stereo blasting Disturbed's cover of The Sound of Silence.

That's why we were late for caroling. But it's okay. Lochlan walked in, took the guitar offered by Ben and asked if there was anyone from Scotland in the house (there wasn't), and he said he would sing a little ditty from a man named Robbie Burns then. He sang Auld Lang Syne for them and everyone started calling Happy New Year at the end

It was a little fucking weird but Merry Christmas! Are we done yet?

Came home and I had to earn my ticket for Star Wars from Christian. Who bought twenty-seven AVX tickets and possibly had to run his credit card under running water to put it out afterward, for it was smoking. He also had to call it in since no one lets you order that many online so it must be a birthday party, please call your local theater and here we go again. Back to twelve, when the only way into their crazy two-level two-stories-up winter treehouse in the woods by the lake was to answer science-fiction trivia. Something I'm terrible at.

Okay, Bridget. What's the name of the group the baddies belong to?

The Empire! No, wait! The Rebellion! I don't know which is good or bad!

Who is the baddest bad guy?

The old man with the hood. The Empire-or! Or the man with the plastic helmet. What about the green helmet? Bonne Fete? Why did they name him Happy Birthday? Is that what he says before he kills people?

What are the glowy-eyed dudes called?

JAWAS! I know that one because I was going to be one for Halloween but I couldn't find lights that worked away from the plug.

What's the basic plot of the second movie?

Which one is the first then? Okay, a bunch of people try to bring down the Empire and they fight back. Some of the jedis are good and some are bad and they save the princess and then space is safe again! Also droids and teddy bears and big slothy creeps are everywhere. Annnnnnnd...everyone is afraid of the Deaf Star.

Fail. She can't come up to the treehouse. 

But we need her! Someone has to play Leia! 

She's blonde. Leia has brown hair. We'd be better off using Lochlan. 

But Lochlan wants to be Han Solo so I get to play Leia, and I'm warned that if I want to go see any more movies with them that I'd better read the books or at least get the movies on VHS and watch them all again. I never did but I get a ticket anyway for cuteness or something. Fine by me, not like I won't sleep through it anyway.

I won my ticket by distracting him with talk of being excited for BB8. B-bait. Whatever it is. The new orange volleyball-stack droid. I should start hosting trivia contests to let them in the house when they come home. It would only be fair, except I'll quiz them on Louboutin styles and Kat Von D lipstick colors. It would make as much sense, frankly.

So I'm not all that excited for Star Wars but so far it's a good day here.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

A tiny bit phlegmy, a little bit grinchy too.

I think it was halfway through Happy Christmas (War is Over) because it's easier to trade lines on and sing with colds than Walking in the Air, when I looked at Lochlan and realized what they're doing.

They're drugging him too.

There's no light in his eyes. He's level and calm and vaguely detached and very reasonable.

I've never known him to be this way and I've known him since he was thirteen years old.


With a week to go I finished the wrapping and I think I'm ready. I'll do a little baking next week if I feel up to it. This cold has taken over and I feel like I'm drowning in between being stabbed in the throat and eyes. PJ feels my forehead this morning and tried to excuse me from caroling but I said I would go. God knows what Sam would make me do if I bailed on this too. I'm not sure what he was thinking having me go hang out in a hospice environment for the morning. Maybe he thought I would appreciate the fact that these people mostly know they are so close to death they could just reach out and touch it but here, have some fake Christmas-Stranger-Cheer anyway, because you know, it'll make Sam feel better.

Or something like that.


Santa was on the beach this morning in the pouring rain. Wringing out his hat, dumping jellyfish and seawater out of his big black boots, using the rocks for balance. Clearly he waited for low tide to swim over.

It says here on my list (he holds up a soggy piece of paper with ink running in rivulets down the page) that you've been naughty this year. You've got a week to get your name moved to the other list. Time is running out, Bridget. 

I think I'll take my knocks this year. Thank you all the same. 

What would you have asked had things turned out differently?

The same thing as always. Bring my ghosts back to life and I'll never want for anything else. 

It's still a dangerous request and I somehow doubt you're any closer to having it fulfilled? 

Hard to get an audience with God if I can't even stay on your Nice list, now, isn't it?

There's always next year, dear Bridget. But in the meantime, I need something to record here in case your circumstances change. 

How about you look after my boys? Keep them safe, keep them happy. That would be a wonderful gift. 

He writes a whole six letters and then smiles at me.

That was fast. You using Santa-Shorthand these days?

No, I simply wrote 'Ditto" because that's what each and every one of them asked for, for you. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Diametric opposition.

I was forced into banking appointments this morning (Neamhchiontach. They need your signature, not mine.) and in between offices Caleb looks at me and asks me if I actually believe everything Batman tells me. I laugh nervously, because I do. He's fairly honest with me, after all.

No, of course not. 

Because it would be really out of left field if I asked you to marry me now. You're already married twice over. He laughs nervously too. Unless I was going to third-wheel myself which would be ludicrous. 

Yes, it would. 

He glances and me and his jig is up. It sure would. 

I'm not laughing now. I really hope that's not what you're doing and I hope that if you have anything you need to share with me that you wouldn't trick me in order to tell me. 

I'm an open book. 

I pick up my Dior bag and put it on my lap. This is enough of a Christmas present anyway. 

I don't see many of these around. It suits you. 

Everyone carries Louis Vuitton. 

Would you like one of those?

No, I wouldn't. I don't like them. 

Our next banker comes in and we're off to the races again. This is year end contributions ahead of tax season. Contribute now, write it off later. Well, not write it off, just defer the taxes until later when I'm in a lower tax bracket or something. Caleb had better live forever or I'm not going to be able to do my own finances pretty soon. It's suddenly more complicated than ever.

The next office is also empty and so we sit down again, still weirdly nervous with each other. I dig through the bag. The lining is slightly too big and I lose my lip gloss in the folds. First world problems, yes, I know.

How is Lochlan dealing with things?

What things?

Your visits to me, for starters. 

For starters- (I glare at him) there was one visit and he's...well, he's fine. 

Oh. That's unusual. 

He's coping. He's a bit defeated, as it were. He doesn't know what to do with it so he's been very patient. 

Caleb nods and the door opens and I sign more things, surprising even Caleb when I ask for my forms for tax purposes on the spot instead of waiting until February to receive them in the mail.

Are we done? We step outside. A group of women on their way to lunch give Caleb the once-over. Then they look at me with green-tinged open disregard and finally they settle on the handbag. They all carry fake Vuittons. Or maybe they're real. I don't care. He smiles at them and they giggle and rush off. I frown at their retreating gaggle and ask again if we're finished.

For now, though I was really hoping I could parlay our location into a lunch date if you don't have immediate commitments. 

I do actually. I have a lunch date already planned. 

He waits for more information but I don't give it to him except to ask if we can head home so that I'm not late. We don't say much on the drive, and once we're home I take my paperwork and my bag and kiss his cheek before running inside, and upstairs to change into warmer clothes. Jeans and a flannel shirt and a sweater and my docs and I run out back and down the steps to the beach and Lochlan is just smoothing out the big woven picnic blanket on the sand, anchoring it on all four corners with smooth round rocks. He turns just as I approach him and smiles really huge when he sees me.

I wasn't sure if you'd make it back in time. 

Wouldn't miss it for the world. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Pluto close up.

(I wish I could save her from all their delusions)
Batman weighed in early this morning, offering me breakfast on the moon. He handed me toast spread with the milky way and filled my teacup full of stars and then he tore off all of my skin and asked me how all this space felt.

I didn't know what he meant. I just know the golden rule has always been not to make him angry, because I've seen his anger directed at others and it's more frightening than space is dark.

Playing coy is not the best course of action right this moment, Bridget. What have you done? 

This is none of your business. 

Funny, when you need protection from him it's my business. When you need some tricky financial transaction it's my business. When you want Cole to go away again it's my business. You're my charge. I was tasked with keeping you safe from that animal but you aren't letting me do my job. 

Whatever agreements you made with Cole died with him. I didn't ask for help. 

Right. YOU didn't. 

I swallow my stars in one gulp. Loch did?

Not in so many words but it's written all over his face. He's trying to give you everything you want and he hopes he's making the right decision in backing off and all it's doing is making you reckless and untrustworthy.

You think I should talk trust with Loch. 

Batman's eyes twitch.

He's the one who told me he'd never leave and then he left! Everyone leaves. Want to know the only person who's still here? Consistently? Caleb! He's never fallen in love with someone else, never not been there when I've called. Never walked away from me. Never thrown me away. 

Then why don't you just go marry him! 

Maybe I will! 

That's what we're afraid of! 


That's his latest proposal. Full legal marriage. He'll give you everything in exchange for your heart. And it comes with some admissions of guilt that he wants to wait to tell you once it's a done deal. Bridget, he's going to ruin everything and he's using all of your weaknesses to do this and I'd like to beat him to it. 

What did he do? What's he going to admit after we're together?  

See, I was right. You'd be just curious enough to entertain the idea just to get the answers you want. I'm close to finding out but I still need time and he knows I'm digging. 

Of course he does. He knows everything. What is this really about? 

Protecting you and Lochlan. 

Or maybe just having the advantage over a rival. I'm just a convenient toy for you and Caleb to fight over. 

Bridget, it isn't like that. 

How about you stop feeding Lochlan's insecurities since they don't exist anyway and worry about your own life! 

How about you open your goddamned eyes!



Woah. You're loud. 

It's because I'm scared too! It's too easy for Caleb to get inside your head. 

Always was. Damage at such a young age does that. 

I thought Claus and Joel and Sam were helping fix that. 

I'm not fixable. I'm barely tolerable. I'm defective in the extreme. Possibly radioactive. Everyone can be near me for a short time only and then they die. You should run. 

Stop it. 

Stop what? Telling the truth? Maybe I deserve whatever fate he has in store for me. Karma. Just desserts. I don't know. Maybe I should let him do away with me. 

It would be a slow death that would continue for decades. 

So business as usual. 


You know what? Enjoy the rest of your universe. I'm full. 

Monday, 14 December 2015

Flicker and flow.

Those Christmas lights light up the street
Down where the sea and city meet
May all your troubles soon be gone
Oh Christmas lights, keep shining on
Lochlan is practicing walking and singing while playing the guitar. This is new for him, something that comes easily now for most of the others. Sam has recruited all of us for caroling for the next two weeks. Because we keep failing to show up for services and it's advent and that's suddenly an unforgivable offense to Sam.

(But he's a little cranky and quick to anger these days and we don't blame him a bit.)

At least we get to pick the songs.

We're going to do Walking in the Air, Christmas Lights, Old Borego and Oh Holy Night because those are my favorites if you veto Red Water (Christmas Mourning) like Sam did, because he said it wasn't exactly Christmasy.

What are you talking about? I asked him, it's totally Christmasy. 

The others are fine. Practice those. 

Yessir. Right away sir. 

He cracked a little grin (FINALLY, YEESH) and shooed me off. So here we are. Walking and trying to sing. Trying to play. I have bells in my pockets and a triangle in my hands. We both have colds just in their infancy which means we'll be unable to breathe, let alone sing by the middle of the week but Sam insists so we will persevere.

You know, if Lochlan and I don't kill each other first. Because he generously told me to go and do what I need to do and not worry about what anyone says. Even him. This is the same thing he always says and then the regret is a thousand tons of concrete pouring into my heart after whatever fleeting pointless connection I make with someone else takes place.

(Explaining it doesn't excuse it so I'll spare you any effort I make. I can be sorry and still want it so badly and no, I don't know what's wrong me either.)

He strums and forgets the words and looks at me suddenly. He is so pale I am startled and when I gasp he just says at least it was a little longer in between times this time. But he says it so slowly and painfully I forget the words too and we just stand there with the guitar and triangle in between us like musical chaperones and he finally breaks the silence and says,

We really need to practice these songs, Peanut. 

I don't feel like singing. 

Me neither, honestly but like the Von Trapps said sometimes you can distract yourself from the things that scare you by singing. 

What are you scared of?

Losing the only thing I ever wanted. 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Don't (the things you have to do to survive).

He pulled me down onto my back and bent his head down for the most gentle kiss, letting his lips linger against my cheek, closing his eyes again.

I'm glad you came to me. 

I can't stay. 

Don't say it now. 

He pushed up my shirt and then threaded my arms out of the sleeves and pulled it over my head. Then he pulled off my jeans and resumed his place beside me. I began to twist over onto my back, putting my hands together behind myself but he shook his head. No, not tonight. Let's just..not do that tonight.

Instead he so very gently brought me with him down to hell where we languished for what seemed like hours before that rocketing trip to heaven. He came with me, perfectly synchronized and then slowed to an exquisite crawl as we made the descent back to common ground. He continued to move within me, his arms locked tight around me as he smiled down at me and kissed me so gently I wondered for a moment if I was dreaming and this wasn't the Devil with me at my most vulnerable, where he likes me best.

Stay and sleep and we'll go out for brunch at a better hour than this. 

I need to go. 

About Christmas-

Like I said, we're all spending it together. 

No, your gift-

I saw the email about an order pick up at the jewelry store. You should reconsider this. I send everything back. 

This is a multi-part present. You'll see. Don't dismiss it until you see what I've done. 

I shrug. It's your money to waste. I check my Breitling. My initials are engraved on it. I couldn't send it back. I don't know if I would have sent it back. It's beautiful and it's a watch so there's no romantic connotations attached. Also, it's ten after five and I need to go.

I get up and go to the bathroom, taking my clothes with me. A quick shower and then I put everything on and come out. When I walk out he's sitting up on the edge of the bed, naked and glorious. Checking his phone. Already planning his day, I imagine as most workaholics do. He needs his own twelve-step program. Maybe we should send him to camp.

He stands up (God help me, but he's a different person in the dark. All tattoos and sinewy strength you wouldn't expect) and smiles at me. I'm glad you didn't wait any longer. He holds my head in his hand and stares down at me while I gaze up at him, letting his hand hold the weight. Swinging back against his arm. He smiles wider. What? 

You didn't tie me down. You didn't bite.

You're disappointed? 

No. Just surprised. 

Don't be. You extended a kindness to me, Neamhchiontach. I'm showing you how kind I can be in return. Oh my God. That moment came when he looks so hopeful and his eyes look just like Cole's when he would be seeking forgiveness from me. A debilitating turn of heart.

It's so...temporary. 

It won't be any more. I promise you. 

One last kiss in the dark and I'm gone. Back to the kitchen. Back into my rainboots, sweater forgotten on the floor of his room. Back across the bricks in the driving rain, hurling myself through the side door into the kitchen. Lock the door, hit the alarm, run through the house and back upstairs, taking things off as I go, back through the door at the top of the stairs and down the hall and through another door and then I pull off my shirt and climb back up the center of the bed softly and slip underneath the covers just as they both sit up and grab me. Loch's hand slides into my wet hair and Ben's arms tighten around my shoulders and Loch says Don't go to him just as Ben says Don't leave like that anymore and I close my eyes because they're also unexpectedly gentle and quiet about it, even though we're all talking at once.

Don't, Bridget. Don't do it. Don't let him in again. I've worked so hard to push him out. 

I didn't ask you to do that. 

Don't risk yourself. Don't go without me. 

There are things I don't want you to see. Things that haunt you. Things that manifest into demons later, inside your head. Just like what happens to me when-

Don't love him. 

It's not the same. 

Close enough. 

If he tells you it's different don't believe-

Don't go.

We go back to sleep, eventually, four arms to hold me down, four to hold me and keep their own nightmares from swallowing them whole and as I fall asleep again I dream Caleb is biting me until there's nothing left but white bone shining through, my heart beating fast in it's cage still protected from him. Kept from him for all eternity. It's never going to be the same so don't. Don't lecture me. Don't worry. Don't tell me I don't know what I'm doing.

Just don't

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Three a.m.

None of the dogs are up now.

I pull my pillow down so it's sideways in bed and crawl out over the covers and down to the bottom. I pull on my shirt and jeans and slip out of the room. Ben snorts in his sleep and turns away as I close the door.

The alarm isn't set because I forgot to put it on. So no disarming beep will sound. Convenient. I pull on my rainboots and sweater and run across the driveway to the Boathouse.

This dog isn't up either.

I sit down on the edge of the bed and wrap my sweater tightly around my ribcage while I watch him sleep. He wants to hurt me. Wants to own me. Wants to pull me away from everything I know and mold me in whatever image he thinks would complement him. Wants me to live in designer dresses and skyscraper shoes, unable to run, too striking and obvious to hide. Wants me to manufacture a new past that excludes everything I've ever loved and every memory that ever gave me comfort in the darkest depths and be his trophy. Hard won. Dirty-fought. Unreal.

That won't happen.

I can love him as much as I can but it still won't happen. Instead I bring to him what I have for him. Me in the uniform of twelve. Jeans and a t-shirt. Paint-caked fingernails on tiny hands. Broken heart and frightened thoughts. He can take some of that but then I'll go back. Back to the daydreams and the cotton candy and the smiles of those who only want what's best instead of what's better.

He wakes up just as I step out of the daydream and he pulls me into his nightmare so easily it's seamless. I can't even see the edges from where the sunshine ends and the thunder rolls in. He has blurred it into my memories. Composited. Photoshopped. Forced perspective. Caustic coercion.

Doll. What time is it?

Three, I tell him. That's the magic number, after all.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Stretching the truth until it's ruined.

We have barricaded ourselves in the library to wrap presents and it isn't pretty.

I'm a professional. Straight edges, crisp folds, minimal use of tape.

Ben is a savage. Balls each present up in fifty yards of wrapping paper until it's crinkly and looks like the day after Christmas, holds it outstretched in one hand, runs packing tape around the whole thing three or four times and says, Looks good to me, and puts it in a pile on the floor.

Do you need more tags?

I look up and Ben is sticking labels on his tongue and eating them. Tags? For what?

To put the recipient's name on each present.

Oh..well, fuck. I don't know what's for who. You can't tell what's in them now.

I nod helplessly and look at Lochlan. He's found an old Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child hardcover that he hasn't read so he's reading it. Right now. Stretched out on his back on the floor. There are two small neatly wrapped presents beside him. We've been in here for two hours.

You all done?


Nothing. How's the book?

It's really good. Don't know how I missed this one!

I sigh inwardly. I love Christmas but the work and the sudden ability of everyone to turn into hapless children when it comes to getting ready for it is frustrating and threatens whatever Christmas spirit I have been trying to conjure for days now.

I'll be back in a minute. I get up and leave the room, closing the door firmly behind me. I walk and walk until I'm on the beach and it's low tide so I sit on the log all the way down at the end and wonder if we should just go back to donating our gift money to Greenpeace. Or maybe just stop celebrating Christmas altogether but as the former wife of a minister that thought makes me sad.

Which is weird because I'm not particularly religious or even all that spiritual anymore. I'm just selfish and sad and far too busy to be all meta and navel-gazing like I am now. I square my shoulders and march back across the rocks and up the hill to the house, planning to kick ass and take names but when I go in everything is cleaned up and put back in the cupboard and Ben and Lochlan are nowhere to be found.

They went for lunch, Duncan tells me helpfully through a mouthful of his own food as he sits and reads in the kitchen. They didn't think you'd be back up so soon. Usually you stay down there for hours. 

And you guys take each other on dates while I'm down there? 

Only if someone's watching you. And someone's definitely watching you today. 

He nods toward the window at the boathouse and realize I'm going to have to make my excuses in person for yesterday. I didn't show. I never agreed to anything and I failed to respond to the Devil when directly ordered to. As I said, he doesn't like it when I don't react.

Are you going to be here for a little bit? 

Duncan smiles ruefully at me. Bridget, you need to take care of this. You can't run out, provoke the dog and come running back to hide behind me. Sooner or later the dog will chase you all the way back and bite, oh, nevermind. Here he comes now. Stay or go? 

Stay. Please! 

Caleb comes in the side door and up the steps into the kitchen. He nods. Duncan. 

Cale. Duncan nods back and takes a sip of his juice. Caleb stares at him and realizes he's not going to afford us any privacy on purpose. Bridget. I was expecting you. Are you otherwise engaged?

I'm wrapping presents with Ben and Loch. 

And yet I saw them leave an hour ago.

It's very intensive work. We need breaks. 

Right so then it's a good time. 

Duncan snorts. I'm right here, Dude. She's not going anywhere. 

Caleb thinks about this for a minute and walks around to my free side, the other side from where Duncan sits and leans in to my ear. Tonight you should come down and go over our notes. I wouldn't put it off much longer. 

Duncan whistles and looks up at the ceiling. I see his hands clench.

I'll check with Ben. 

Bring him along. We'll make it a nightcap. 

I said I'll see. I remind him and he hesitates for only a minute before turning to leave. He turns back and tells Duncan that I don't need a babysitter and that Duncan isn't needed here and Duncan laughs and asks Caleb if he is new. That I definitely need to be watched and cared for a little better than Caleb is capable of and unless he wants to be wrapped like a fucking present he should probably leave.

Caleb takes my elbow and half-pulls me with him to the door. Duncan is tense like a spring on his seat. He can be up and over to us in a heartbeat. Caleb leans down to my ear just as he lets go. You should tell your dog his bark isn't much to worry about. 

Funny, he said pretty much the same thing about you. 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

So newly charming.

This morning was a bit of a clusterfuck. I put Lochlan's money that he gave me towards his share back into his bank account and he yelled about it. I made tea and forgot to put the bag in and didn't notice until PJ took a sip and swore because he wasn't expecting a big swig of hot water and then in my rush to fix it I bumped into Dalton's morning wood which I wasn't expecting to be right there with him in his pajama pants saying hello even though he had taken pains to wait until I had distributed the mugs and retreated to my space at the island before heading to the sink and when I swore at him he chastised me gently but obstinately, because I was in the wrong and he was in the right.

To get away from the perfection army, I went to see Jacob and Caleb was there instead, anxious to intercept me before I got in league with my ghosts because these days all you have to do is mention one or the other and I'll go visit them because what better time than now? 

We need to do a little pre-year-end cleanup, Bridget. Can you help me today? 

I nod because refusing never went well when it comes to work or money. Just play. If it's play he'd bide his time forever but business is business and it cannot wait. I roll my eyes at the irony. He's retired and worse than ever for working when he should be relaxing.

What's wrong? 

It's a Monday masquerading as a Thursday, I explain. I hope he knows what I mean. I don't want to have to tell him about Dalton's excitable morning breakfast helper. Usually the boys stay put until that goes away and then they come out but Dalton is more than a little comfortable in his own skin and forgets or assumes that I will somehow predict his body and steer clear.

(Why would I ever steer clear of a boy?)

Caleb nods. I know what you mean. (HUH? OH. Right.) How about we head downtown for a coffee first and then we'll get organized?

I nod again.

Is this going to be a one-sided sort of day? I was hoping for a little more companionship. 

Maybe you should find someone more likable then for today. Dalton might be up for it. I wave his confusion away. Long story. Big story. Long, big story. Nevermind. I stifle a laugh-sob and pull myself together.

Caleb takes my hands and brings them together as if in prayer and then pulls them up to his lips. He kisses my fingertips and smiles down at me. I have no idea what you're talking about but I think we need a day to just go and maybe skip school and have some fun. Would that be better?

I nod again before forgetting and saying yes, even as I have my doubts. Last week when Sam said the same thing and we went off and bonded over ice skates and hot chocolate and strolls through the shops I came home and got yelled at, this after being yelled at the day before for not leaving the house. Not sure they like me making decisions so may as well let everyone else do it and I'll reap the benefits (and the punishments too.)

At least all the surprises are intentional and not just from dreaming.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Lochlan is sitting on the front porch with me going full Elvis treatment on John Lennon's Starting Over. He does a mean arrangement of this song, but the Elvis part always makes me giggle uncontrollably. He winks and postures with the guitar from his chair and then puts it down and says, what have we here? when we see an unfamiliar car come down the drive. Because they have the gate code he stands up.

It's just Matt in a dealership loaner.



I don't go and get Sam quite yet. In case Matt is here just to collect something he forgot. The timing is suspect because Sam is usually at work right now and he's downstairs sleeping instead, after staying up far too late talking with August and Ben last night by the fire, the Christmas tree lights left on for a quiet light by which to sort out his head and his heart.

Hey. Sam is home. He's sleeping. 

May I...uh. Can I see him? 

You don't have to ask. I was just warning you in case you didn't want to see him. 

Of course I want to see him. I went to the church first but they said he came home to nap.

Did you move out prematurely? I hope so. I stand there, dealbreaker that I am, trying to be nice in hopes that Matt will reconsider his opinion of me.

We tend to work things through more proficiently if we don't sleep in the same space after talking. 

There's another room upstairs you can stay in if it would be easier. 

It's fine thanks. I've got it covered. 

Okay. I stand completely helplessly in his way until Lochlan gently pulls me away from the door. Matt smiles gratefully at him and goes inside. As well as Matt and I get along on our own, we're still strangers and I'm enemy number one after all this time and it makes me sad.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Death on the beach.

Now my feet won't touch the ground
Now my head won't stop
You wait a lifetime to be found
Now my feet won't touch the ground
We need to discuss Christmas.

You're welcome to come and spend the days. Henry's off from the eighteenth. You know this.

I didn't mean Henry. I meant you.

He's wasting no time in exploiting Loch's newly minted generosity. I should tell him that generosity is only extended when Loch gets comfortable and the minute Caleb starts squeezing me again that will change. But he knows.

I'm here. I'll be around. 

Maybe we can make some plans. A movie night or something? Dinner? A weekend away?


His eyebrows go up. He assumes the best all the time. Love that about him. You and your McBreakfasts. 

Hey. Be kind. I like fried food in the morning. 

And at night? 

I'd rather drink my dinner. 

Speaking of drink. Why is everyone suddenly on the edge of falling off? 

Holidays are hard. 

Yes. I'm well aware. I miss my brother more at this time of year, I think. 

Do you though? 

Don't you?


Cole loved Christmas. It was the one time he was truly content. He loved the snow, the lights, the magic. He loved the traditions and the tree and the children's excitement. He loved opening presents.

Whoops. I went wading into Caleb's memories and missed the dropoff. Suddenly I'm treading water, far out with the black water underneath, my heavy skirts pulling my head under.

But I fight.

Everyone loves Christmas. Have you met Ben? 

Lochlan doesn't. I don't.

Everyone has their reasons for their feelings. But he knows and today he's turning screws because he doesn't want Sam's sudden blindingly-bright, painfully-loud needs to overshadow his own loneliness. Suddenly a wave of sadness comes out of nowhere, destroying my efforts to save myself.

You've both been alone. 

Ben's been alone. 

You can't draw a map using Ben as a guide. You should know this by now. 

So it looks like I'm in a boat with Loch this year. Maybe we'll row over and save you. Or maybe well pretend we didn't see you in the first place. He pushes my head under and swims away, taking his memories with him. The water fills my lungs and then retreats, leaving me coughing and wretching on the rocks, wondering what I did now to piss him off.

Oh, right.

Nothing. I did nothing. And he hates that the most.

Monday, 7 December 2015

I'd still save him first so the sticker is just a redundancy.

Here in this world
How would you know
What the angels look like?
Benjamin turned forty-seven last week and for some reason I can't explain he is happier now then he has ever been.

I made a huge chocolate cake for the huge birthday boy and he ate almost half of it and promptly turned into a huge hyperactive child. So we took him bowling and tried to dilute the sugar in his bloodstream with bad bowling alley pizza and failed miserably. He also managed to crack a ball just by touching it.

That's my Benny. Tough as nails, awkward as a duck on ice skates, sweet as that cake I baked. He offered to pay for the ball but was told it had just come out of unheated storage and they were having problems with those balls all week. He nodded very somberly and pointed out he has no problems with his balls ever. Loch and I were both doubled over snorting by now but the creepy guy behind the counter didn't notice and thought that just maybe Ben was a pro bowler.

(Ben is not a pro bowler. I don't believe he's even an amateur yet but he had an awful lot of fun.)

We had his official birthday dinner last night because we were waiting on Danny, Schuy and PJ to come home and they did while I was telling you about Sam last evening and then telling you to fuck off. Yes, I was cooking and wrapping and preparing for a party all the while swearing at the world. A fierce little multitasker, I am.

You know I love you but I get easily frustrated by your judgements. You try living here. Wait, you try being me and tell me you'd do better. Tell me you'd want to do better. I'm just happy that Ben is happy. When he is content it is as if I am too and I don't know why that is but I like it.

And he liked having his birthday stretched out into almost a full week of celebrations. When he was growing up it fell close enough to Christmas that he would be deprived of a full birthday party on account of the holidays and a lack of cash, with two working parents who were too busy trying to keep two six-foot-something boys fed, let alone have anything extra. So I like to spoil him thoroughly and he says that once again I have.

I sat on his knee after dinner (it's becoming a thing), his arm around my waist, his lips on my shoulder as he tried to keep his shit together while he listened to the speeches we give when someone turns another year older. When it was my turn last I stood up and said the words I wrote down a while back, as I have a year to work on these, you see, and as I spoke his eyes did that wonderful thing where they glass up and spill over and shine and when I finished he grabbed me back into his arms and told me he loved me. That he loves me more than anyone else does, and that he is so proud that I am with him. Then we had presents, and then we had things I can't write about because my mom wanted to hear about his birthday.

One of his favorite gifts this year out of everything was a novelty sticker for the glass by the front door that has a picture of the beast from Beauty and the Beast and it says In case of Fire, please save the Ben inside.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Fuck off.

If you're too judgmental to understand satire, sarcasm or just plain tongue-in-cheek irony, maybe it's time to find another blog to read. Jesus Christ. I write prose for a living.

Do I have it all?

Not even close.

But it's ironic that I am a magnet for ruined people just like me.

But seriously, if you have time to send me crappy letters, you have time to look for new things to read.

The moment I knew I had it all (except for the things I really wanted).

(Sundays are for honesty and ridiculousness.)

Sam's love for me is not all that romantic, so get over yourselves. His loyalty, however, is the supreme force to be reckoned with and when pushed, he (like me) will burn you the fuck down with it. Matt thought it would be easy to win over and he's struggled and when it got bad enough he'd take an assignment to get away from it but things haven't changed and things probably won't change. He gave Sam an ultimatum and Sam didn't budge an inch.

Lochlan looks at me last night, fire reflecting in his eyes, whiskey diluting his blood and he says why are you so good at this?

I shrug. You taught me to charm people for a living. And so that's what I do.

Why can't you turn it off?

Why would I for him? Why would I for anyone that I love? You said, if you want that brass ring give it everything you've got and so I do. A hundred percent all the time for all of you and nothing for anyone else.

This isn't how I meant. The brothers twisted everything we did and made it into something irreversible. Something too powerful.

You're not happy with me anymore?

It's not that. It's just you built this army but now you can no longer control it.

I can. But I try not to. I let the chips fall because anything else and we would be a cult.

We are a cult, Bridget.

I know we are. But are you happy, Lochlan? 

Very. I can't even explain it. I thought my jealousy would be worse than Matt's is. Worse than anything but it doesn't seem to be an issue sometimes. 

Only with the Devil. 

Not even with him so much anymore. 

My eyebrows go up and my brain starts churning but I don't reply. Too busy wondering if Sam can actually weather the storm of knowing he's alone except for the odd warm front of affection that gets forecast now and again.  A front that isn't really appropriate but that no one would dare complain about all the same.

Two more disciples for my collective. No one's on the fringe now. Not even Caleb.

Oh noes.

Oh noes.

Oh yes.

Oh shit. 

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Bowling for Bridget.

Found another Little Caesars and found a reason to go in (dinner) and we bought everything they had ready (hot-n-ready? WTF YES PLEASE) and brought it home and after fifteen minutes in the oven to get things back to piping hot (we don't live near town) we were happily eating. So happily. I'm currently plotting a crazy bread revolution. Because damn. Ben pulled me onto his lap as I was clearing plates and held a leftover box up with the other arm and said, she weighs this much more now. He was rewarded with the sort of adoring laughter that used to meet Cole head-on across the dinner table with the same crowd.

It kind of weirded me out but I was so sluggish from the pizza that my brain crawled along at the pace of a turtle and I let it be dismissed along with my hunger.

Lochlan used to look for the good in being hungry. He quoted Hemingway. He would have me count streetlights or highway markers or hours or stars until food. He sometimes had to stretch them out more than he wanted. Cole never wasted a minute on hunger. If he asked at three in the morning and I nodded that I was hungry he would go make something or go out and get takeout for me.

Ben is sometimes a lot more like Cole than anyone else but only in the good ways.

Or I mean mostly in the good ways.

Ben released me but took the plates when he stood up and told me to go check in on Sam and Matt to see if they wanted some of the pizza we had left and I went down and knocked on their door. No one answered so I knocked again. I heard Sam tell me to come in and so I went inside and walked down the hall looking for him. I finally found him in their bedroom. He was sitting on the side of the bed. The closet was almost empty, and so were half the bureau drawers and Sam was holding an open bottle of whiskey. I don't know if he had any but I have to assume he did.

He's gone. He's gone like Lisabeth and I'm alone now except for God. 

And he threw the bottle at me and I didn't even duck or close my eyes.

It knocked me down and then shattered all over me and the wall in the process and Ben came downstairs and Sam was saying sorry to him but Ben told him to shut the fuck up and called for the rest who were more than a little surprised because Sam has been sober forever without so much as a flinch in the wrong direction. Even through the miscarriages. Through everything. I tried to point out what seemed so obvious and boy, was that dumb.

You really loved him.

No. I really love you. That's the problem. And I didn't drink it. Not a drop.

Everyone turned and looked at me as I sat on the floor in a pool of glass and whiskey and I didn't know what to do except wish there was a rewind button for life so we could say oops and roll it back and get another chance.

I believe him. He's a truthful kind of guy.

Now that he's upstairs in the kitchen drinking coffee with my army in the relative safety of the knowledge that as long as you admit your feelings up front you can stay here forever. Apparently that's all I ask for. Your soul (because I don't have one of my own) and your undying loyalty (because I'm scared).

Friday, 4 December 2015

Annnnnnd...Matt is home!

Cross your fingers because this morning Joel told Sam he was being very immature about what amounts to an extended business trip. I might have taken a bite out of Joel to protect Sam's feelings because how would Joel fucking know anything about anything?

Instead of a relaxing Friday night everything is tense and crazy. I just want Sam and Matt to have some uninterrupted time to work through whatever they need to. Without me. Without Joel. Just the two of them. I'll be downstairs with Ben's huge headphones listening to Ella and Louis and getting shitfaced alone.

Because I can.

Pick a flower, hold your breath.

Yes, I cried when I heard the news. I have a pretty short list of people I adore who don't live in my immediate vicinity.

And I'm pretty sure I'm the only person on this planet with the entirety of the lyrics to Still Remains tattooed on my back. Sandwiched between the giant scrawled words in Caleb's handwriting, Neamhchiontach and Croíbhristeoir, because it was the one song Jacob couldn't actually sing successfully (he was a minister with a Stone Temple Pilots cover band if you're green to SWP) so I put it there as a challenge, that maybe he could someday sing it all the way through in heaven. It's a difficult song to breathe through, the same as today is a difficult day to breathe through because we lost a huge shining light that makes up fully half my life's soundtrack. A tiny man with big showmanship, a man who entertained me for nights and hours, in person and through my headphones, and left an indelible mark with his words. A man who had his demons on his heels the whole damn time he lived. I hope they've left him now.

Rest peacefully Scott Weiland. And thank you for everything.

(Croíbhristeoir means heartbreaker. Everything Caleb has ever called me in kindness goes on my skin as a label for all eternity, but this post isn't about him, because he is still alive.)

I'm so fucking sad. 

Jesus Christ.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Telling fortunes, telling truths (a real gobsmacker from thirteen and eight).

What is the lie-berry like at the Junior high? Do they have The Hardy Boys?

It's lie-braire-ee, Peanut. The R comes right after the B. Like in Bridget.

Right! Lie-berry! So do they?

No, just books for teenagers. 

Like what?

Horror books mostly. John Saul and Stephen King. And stuff like Raise the Titanic

No Judy Blume? 

That's for babies. 

Wow. I'm not a baby! 

You're eight. Yesterday you were a baby. Tomorrow you'll still be a baby. But someday you'll be a big kid. 

Will you still be in junior high when I start going there too? 

No, I'll be in high school then. 

I wonder what the lie-berry is like up there. 

It's all encyclopedias and microfiche machines. 

So, boring? 

Learning is always boring, Bridge. 

Not if your friends are with you. I'm by myself and you guys are all in Junior High and it's a disaster, Lochlan.

I can't help the fact that I'm thirteen. 

I know. 

What's your favorite book right now, Bridge? 

A Little Princess, by....I forget who wrote it. It's a girl writer. 

What's it about?

A little girl who gets sent to boarding school by her father and she's very rich but then he dies and the headmistress takes away all of the girl's pretty things and makes her live in the attic where she invents stories in her head to escape her oppressive life alone. She's finally saved by a rich man who knew her father and lives happily ever after. Well, as happy as one can be orphaned.

Oppressive. You can use oppressive correctly in a sentence but you can't pronounce library? 

Prio-rites, Locket.

That's prior-i-tees, Bridge. You're a funny little kid. 

I'd be better if I was in your grade. 

I'm dropping out in a couple years anyway. So I'll never be there. 

I get a weird little flutter of panic in my chest when he says that so I put both hands across my heart suddenly and hold my breath.

He is taken aback. What are you doing? 

I don't know. It hurt a lot when I thought of you not being around. Like right here. I point at my chest.

He smiles. I know. I get that feeling too when I think about being away from you.

Well, maybe someday I'll meet a rich man like in the book and then I can use all of his money to make sure you're always here. With me.

Does that mean you have to go through a lot of difficulties first and someone has to die? 

Oh, probably but I think it would be worth it. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Hindered spirits.

(Here's the thing. And I have all kinds of time because I'm hiding out from Batman who's been looking for me for two days but he also can't just walk in like he owns the place because he doesn't. I do. Remind me, I need to get the key from Caleb. That's going to be a fight. Apparently I need better boundaries. Right and longer eyelashes too but a girl can only work with what she was born with, right? And I was born with a brain so flawed that it was easy to exploit me into what I am now. I'll take full responsibility for it though. Instead of actually making changes I just take circuitous routes back around to where I started.)

You should have gone with Matt. 

I know but I'm too busy to be flitting around Europe right now as the kept wife. It's Christmas, for fucks sakes, Bridget. Sorry, Gina. Sam calls out to the cleaning lady who is frowning at me because Sam swore. I point to him and she smiles and disappears again.

Matt's coming home this weekend for a break, a visit, a fight. Something big, anyway. Sam isn't doing well. He's retreated. He goes to the church and he comes home and disappears downstairs to his apartment. He hasn't joined us for any meals. Hasn't asked how anyone is doing. Didn't add his opinions to the whole PJ saga that turned out to be completely harmless (but cloaked in that famous frat-boy humor that pervades throughout the point) and he hasn't exactly been truthful about his answers when asked how he's doing. I'm glad he threw himself into his work. I'm glad he's keeping busy. And I'm absolutely devastated by his absence. I followed him down to church again in my pajamas but no one bats an eye about that anymore, they just give us even more space than usual.

Bridget, I don't think things are good with him. It would be like if Ben just kept going out on the road and didn't notice if you were lonely. Didn't notice when you were sad. Had this perfect life mapped out otherwise. Hit all the right notes with romantic gestures and all the right answers about the present and the future but completely missed the part where all you feel is lonely. Shouldn't he be able to tell? If you give someone your heart, shouldn't they be able to understand the language it's written in? I thought if I had him that I wouldn't feel like this any more. This isn't a hole God can fill, I don't mean I'm not fulfilled as a person but when it comes to love I shouldn't feel like this. You know? 

I can't answer him because my brain got stuck on the part where he said 'If you give someone your heart, shouldn't they be able to understand the language it's written in?' It's when I realized things really aren't any better or different between Sam and Matt, and it's when I realized that I've ruined Sam too and I fell a little harder in love with him (oops) and I nodded to him as tears rolled down my face and he said he didn't want to make me sad for him, that I'm sad enough, and he said to come on, that we'd go play hooky for a day and maybe then we'd both feel better, but first I need to go home and change. And come back and he should be finished and we'll head out.

I wiped my face with my sleeves and he laughed a little bit shakily and said it felt good to be able to talk to me one on one without the army waging war over my head and I realized he wasn't avoiding me, he just didn't want to add to the mess that is my life and I told him that's a mistake because he has a way of sorting everyone out and fixing things that we let fester so long, or maybe he can just come and talk to us and he'll feel that much less lonely. I lie, in other words, because that doesn't work.

At least we're good for each other. He smiles and wipes his own tears away quickly.

Oh, I highly doubt that. You must not be current on the family memos. I ruin everybody. 

Naw, Bridget. You're just looking for someone who speaks the language of your heart. 

You don't think they do? 

I think some of them have enough words to get by, if you know what I mean. 

I don't know if I do, but it gives me lots to think about on my way home.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

The lesser.

I really wish you'd stop interfering. Lochlan scowls at Caleb, who actually came over to feast on some crow after being told in no uncertain terms by Joel that for PJ to be banished (even temporarily) right now at this perfect juncture between Ben's birthday and New Years would be detrimental and probably highly destructive to my well-being.

(I'm guessing Joel finally picked a side and is going to be looking for his brownie points from me from now on.)

I got to tell Caleb this morning and invited him over for his bird-meal. I may film it and put it on Youtube. 'Millionaire's latest attempt at scorched-earth campaign goes bust.'

But for some reason he is still full of fire. Fire and feathers, now.

If it weren't for my interference, you two would be bickering over a nickel in a run-down trailer park somewhere. You'd be drunk and she'd be scared and hungry. Bridget wasn't meant to live like that. I know you're hellbent to, though, so there's the door. 

Diabhal. You aren't allowed to speak to him like that. 

I am, actually. I pay his bills. 

No, I do. 

With the money I give you. 

I'm not here for your money, Caleb.

I forgot. Those with means are in a lineup behind me. See, Pyro? You're never going to have what you want. You should just get out while you still can before you end up like the others. Save yourself. 

And leave her for you? Never. 

Am I in a movie? I spin around looking for the cameras but they're well-hidden, I guess. I can't see them. Both men stop and look at me without words. Loch finally says What are you doing? 

Nothing. Thinking. 


How to fix this so you two don't kill each other. You have four years left. You're more than halfway through this forced arrangement. 

Going to be a long four years. Loch says it almost under his breath just as Caleb starts to laugh.

You won't leave here once the custody arrangement ends. I know you better than you think I do, Bridget. 

Maybe you'll leave. Maybe I'll lock the point down and everyone will have to move.

You would miss this too much. Miss having all of your boys around. Miss having them watch you, touch you, give you whatever it is you don't get from him. 

Definitely a movie. Right on cue Loch dives at Caleb and Duncan and Dalton rush in to pull them apart. I give up. What's my role again? Oh yes, I go out and stand on the edge of the cliff and look out to sea while the camera does a slow pan away from me until I'm but a speck of black on the screen while the credits roll.

Really I just didn't want PJ to feel like he was being shoved out and I don't want Lochlan to feel like he's a charity case. But I worried prematurely. Both things fixed themselves. Lochlan brought me a quarterly rent cheque and told me I'm not to cover it anymore but he would like receipts from Caleb himself, and PJ assured me that he didn't feel pressured to go and really he's happy to remain but he is taking his next long weekend and going to visit some family. I sat looking at the cheque for a while, doing the math in my head and I finally went back to Loch and asked where it came from.

I have a sugar daddy too these days. Thought you would have noticed by now. 

I just stood there with my eyes wide because I wasn't putting two and two together. I'm so bad at math.

Batman. I got a Christmas bonus. Early, he said, so I'd have it to use for Christmas. Oh, and the rest of the year off. He's not a bad boss actually. 

So this is the bonus?And you're giving it to me? 

No, that's just this week's paycheque. The bonus is in the bank. More money than I've ever seen. And it's ours, Peanut. No strings. 

From Batman. 


Oh, there will be strings, Loch.