Sunday, 31 May 2015

Not proud but not sorry either.

Raised by wolves
Stronger than fear
If I open my eyes,
You disappear
Yesterday's round of cliches and mounting egos ended abruptly in the dark as memories drowned us once again. We only ever get so far before we're yanked back by the leash of our past. It's not a leash, it's a noose, jerking me off my feet, out of the present, far away from the future. So much for hope.

Ciúnas, Neamhchiontach. Ciúnas.

Lochlan-

Just don't say it. Let me have this night.

He kissed my earlobe. My nose. My forehead. He smoothed his thumbs across my cheeks and cupped my head in his hands. His top hat puts his eyes into shadow. His eyeliner is smeared down his cheeks and across his lips. He's covered with fuel. I can smell it in his hair and on his skin. I reach up with one hand and try and wipe away the black. Underneath this is the light. Underneath all of these trappings of the Demon Juggler of Embro is my Lochlan. Or at least I hope so.

He keeps talking in other languages. Gaelic mixed with French mixed with Romanian. His hands are everywhere, his mouth everywhere. My clothes are landing on the filthy hotel floor one article at a time until I am naked and overheated and flush. There is no air conditioning, no standards for cleanliness and no identification required when you check in to this hotel. It's a dive. It's a forgotten strip of loneliness underneath a highway overpass in a city I wouldn't go back to on a dare. It's a shame.

He leaves his hat on as his hands come back up to cradle my face. Our clothes have made a sea on the floor, one of familiarity and small comfort. I wash them out each night in the bathtub and hang them on a string that Lochlan tied between the shower head and the window blinds. It only takes a few days in this heavy beach air to dry things and we each have four outfits plus our show costumes. We can't wash those. There's only one for each of us and we wear them every night. Loch's black pants are heavy with fuel and I worry that one of these nights he's going to go up in smoke but he tells me he's so careful, that he would never leave me alone here. He promises.

I take the whiskey and warn him that he'd better keep that promise and he smiles.

Are you happy, Neamhchiontach? Are you okay now? 

I nod and swallow three times, then two more. I'll numb myself right out until I am. Then he will be happy too. He wants me to lie when he asks. That much I have learned. The whiskey holds truth's head underwater. Truth is drowning. Truth is dead.

He lifts me up in his arms and wraps my legs around his waist. He walks to the bed and dumps us both down onto it. A kiss to distract and then he has turned me inside out. There are no lies here now. There would be no place to put them. He pulls his hat off and sails it toward the table on the other side of the room just as I reach up to smooth his curls out of his eyes. I want to see him. It's still light out and so I want to see his expressions. They are so incredible as he goes through desire, passion, euphoria and then contentment.

We are almost to euphoria when the knocks start against the door. What begins as a polite rap soon turns to a steady pounding as he ignores it in favor of one last time making love in this place we'll never come back to. He stole the cash box yesterday while I made up an argument with the boss about how I should be paid more because I'm a performer now and not just a grunt. Lochlan took half the contents and then I picked another fight while he put the box back in place. We came back to the hotel long enough to collect our laundry and steal a map but now the hotel manager has realized that we're about to skip town without paying our bill and he wants to make sure we don't leave.

Lochlan takes me to the ceiling and holds me there while he finds his place beside me as the pounding on the door takes on the same rhythm as my pounding heart. I am shaky and spent. He lies down beside me smiling. Eyes flashing, face in an all-out grin.

This is not the life I planned for us but if you can bear with me, someday it will be, he says with a wink. We jump up and dress as fast as possible, buttoning buttons while we throw clothes into our bags, tying ribbons while I walk around exactly five times, checking the room to make sure we've left nothing behind. This is how we operate. Loch takes my hand and pulls me into the bathroom where he cuts down the string line and then takes the screen out of the window. He lifts me up and I go through easily to the dirt lot on the outside. He passes through my bag, then his bag and he starts to climb through when abruptly he stops and says one second, disappearing back into the room.

I can still hear the pounding on the door. I hear him yell One second! toward the door and then he is back. He passes through his top hat and then he climbs through the window. He loads both bags on his shoulder, puts his top hat on my head and takes my hand as we start to run. If we're fast enough there's a bus that stops just before the underpass to get back on the highway and we can leave this godforsaken place behind.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Saturdays are for sabbaticals and for strawberry-blondes too.

Batman came down to the house this morning to tour Lochlan's latest refurb (he's been restoring vintage camper trailers and even a few RVs, did I tell you this already?) and said that Lochlan would have the summer off because there isn't enough work for him right now, that Batman likes to slow down every now and then and appreciate the beauty in life.

(The camper thing is Lochlan's own endeavour and is not what he does for Batman. Batman has him doing a sort of tech support, set-up computers job. It's completely unnecessary. Don't even ask.)

Love my semi-retired millionaires, yes I do.

Lochlan has his own sugar daddy to level the field too now, in that he keeps his pay with benefits and come September he may have a slightly different role in working for Batman. Also a raise.

And Batman enjoyed his little tour of the airstream, pulling open drawers and testing the fridge and they talked about labour costs versus materials and the markups involved (not much) and Batman was quite taken with Lochlan's efforts to give people a fair deal on old campers while still making enough money to almost live on.

Almost.

Well, he could live on it but not here.

Batman said that if we needed anything he would be available around the clock. I'm sure I know what he meant but it still surprises me when he leans in to my ear and says,

Even the most neutral countries, when pushed, will pick a side. I like the one I'm on. 

Who wouldn't?, I think to myself as I watch Lochlan struggle with a stuck drawer. His hair has lightened at last to match his scruffy beard. He's so beautiful and delicately-boned and fierce I want to cry. He looks up and gives me a self-effacing grin and tells Batman he'll fix that tomorrow and Batman nods because he knows Lochlan will fix it.

Maybe he'll finally fix some other stuff too.

This was Batman's way of apologizing for agreeing with Caleb and the others in not allowing me to go to New York on short notice to see Ben, however briefly it would have been for.)

When Batman leaves I pull the drawer out and chalk it so Loch can see where it's sticking. I put it back in but can't even get it to go as far as he could. Loch reaches in around me, gives the drawer a shove home and then spins me around, pinning me against the little counter. The walls are close, the ghosts of amusements past are all around us and he kisses up under my nose and then full on my mouth and he says that this is amazing, that we ended up on our feet here beside the ocean in a pretty little trailer with two children running around and all our friends close by and that we have three cheques coming in regularly and that maybe this is it. Maybe we made it after all. Maybe after a summer alone together this will feel right even if it feels unbelievably weird right now.

That this is what we always hoped for.

And now we have it and we both suddenly decide we can't jinx it, that we will get used to it, not take it for granted and respect the circumstances that led to this moment right here.

I wanted to hate him for pole-vaulting right over the subject of Benjamin but Loch is right.

All of the big things I put on my list when I was twelve have materialized abruptly right in front of me and I don't know what to do with it all. I don't know how I should feel. Grateful? Guilty? Saddened? Elated? Peaceful?

I look at Lochlan for my cue. He runs this show, after all.

Feel hopeful, Bridgie. Like Sam said. Hope is here whether you decide to acknowledge it or not. 

We head outside and Loch's phone beeps. Batman has sent Lochlan a message which he reads out loud. 'I forgot to mention I give my employees a summer bonus when I shut down for the season. Enjoy.'

Lochlan whoops really loudly and picks me up, spinning me around. As I go around the sun reflecting off the airstream blinds me, so I can barely see the form of Caleb standing at the top of his stairs watching us.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Spending all my time today twisting in the sunny breeze on the swing in the orchard. I asked Caleb if I could paint it and he said that would be nice so on the board there is a mermaid, only she isn't smiling, she's got a flat expression like she isn't sure.

I don't know where she got that from.

Oh, yes, I do.

If I'm out there I have no cell service for whatever reason and so I can ignore the phone in my pocket, ignore the boys since they have to trudge out here instead of calling, it's just too far, too tucked down the hill. I can stop time and just think about nothing but the wind and the water and the crow that's been watching me the whole time from the top of a branch nearby. He is not a sentry, he's a scavenger. I'm not a person, I'm a fragment. I'm a meal.

This is not life, this is a dream. I would say nightmare but Lochlan brought me home a mood ring and PJ made soft boiled eggs and toast points for lunch and you'll never find those sorts of comforts in a nightmare.

Not mine, anyway. Mine are filled with underground tunnels and concrete floors and single flickering bulbs and ghosts that tell me all the things I want to hear and all the things I don't.


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Rock and sway.

We are the living souls
With terminal hearts, terminal parts
Flickering like candles
Fatally flawed, Fatally flawed
Every time Sam turns around I take a sip of his coffee. It's instant, don't worry. It's terrible. It was from a jar probably opened in 2010 and missed by me in my efforts to look after Sam just a little bit better than any one ever has.

I have on my deadhead floor-length patchwork skirt, a tank top and August's chiseled Ohm necklace that I stole last night from his neck and I can't stay still with Terminal on. Sam gave me permission to introduce him to The Wonderlands: Sunlight via the church's sound system and we both decided we'll just leave this song on repeat forever. So sad but bobbing and catchy too. It's gorgeous, layered and so loud.

Maybe like me. Except for the gorgeous part. I've decided suddenly that my Furiosa haircut just doesn't work with my wardrobe and has taken all of my power away. I look fragile. I look sick and small and now I can't get away with anything. I'll grow it all back out and then they will be so distracted I will once again hold influence over the whole collective.

Sam is swaying too, rocking back and forth on his heels while he talks on the phone. They're giving him a person. Another minister. Permanently. Someone to help share the load. Sam is going to be the boss. He's going to be so boss, though I doubt he'll give directives at all. Instead he'll ask for help because that's what he does and what he's taught me to do.

I get distracted staring at the back of his head where his hair almost curls and he turns around before I remember to put the cup back down.

I offered to make you some.

I'm fine, thank you. 

He bursts out laughing but then his face turns serious. Who are you avoiding today? 

No one. 

No one named Loch?

Maybe. 

Why? 

He's so INTENSE. I lean in and widen my eyes. It's a line from Practical Magic. Sam knows it and he nods.

That he is. He's never changed though, has he?

Nope. And I will never ever ever figure him out. 

Just know that he truly does have your best interests at heart. 

I know he does. 

So what do you plan to do?

Nothing. 

Going to pick up where you left off when Ben comes home?

Yep. 

What if he doesn't come back?

Why wouldn't he come back?

I'm playing the Devil's advocate. 

The Devil doesn't need anyone to advocate for him, Sam. He does just fine on his own. 

So then why ARE you avoiding Lochlan?

I shake my head and pretend to be busy. I can't answer that without tears.

Get your bag. We're going to go out for real coffee. We can talk about it there. 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Let's be forthright from here on out.

Oops.

Caleb didn't like the answer I gave to some of his colleagues over breakfast when presented to them like a goddamned trophy wife. When they asked what I do, I said that when I'm not functioning as Mr. C_____'s personal assistant I teach all the men I live with how to put the toilet seat down.

They thought it was funny.

He didn't.

(Seriously. I believe this is somehow my job now. 8/10 men in my life can manage this simple but important task. So really 16 out of 20. Four of them are just troublemakers.)


"Some things are true whether you believe them or not."

The ocean is so still this morning, silent and cold. I've resumed life in a bathing suit with a hoodie for the time being because these are the things I want to embrace, like when you get pine needles stuck to your bare feet or get a hint of the scent of lilacs when you step out your front door.

The sand is ice cold, the rocks somewhat warmer but uncomfortable and I wade along in the water, numb from my ankles to my toes. I won't leave her.  I won't leave her ever again. That makes me the most dedicated lover to my ocean. She doesn't have to look up one day, reaching for the morning with the highest tide she can muster, wondering where I went.

I will be right here.

***

Lochlan spoke a warning in the dark that changed things ever so profoundly.

He's telling you one story and I'm getting another.

I know this.

And?

And I need to see how it ends.

Why.

Curiosity. Remember? It will be what kills me. I'd like it in my obituary, if there is one. 'She was born into the fair. She wrote a whole shitload of horror stories, she loved really really hard and then curiosity killed her. What an amazing poignant life. What a show.' Put that in, please.

Can't. He's gone rigid, removed. Bridget's mortality isn't something Lochlan can deal with.

Yes you can.

Someone else will have to. There's no life if you aren't here. Nothing before you and so there will be nothing after you.

Pulling out the big guns today, I see.

I never said I wasn't armed.

(That. That was the sentence that changed things once again. Never saw it coming.)

***

Resistant to living in the moment and yet learning ever so slowly precisely how to do just that. Stop, Bridget, slow down. Re-plant some peppers that never sprouted. Inspect the grapevines and take a deep breath in the orchard. Take a stick and poke into the ant hill. Learn the names of all the plants in the grotto. Buy more lilacs. Walk the beach three times a day instead of once. Wear sunscreen but put it on in the morning and then it's not an issue to try and remember to bring.

Breathe.

Think about Jake without being drowned in grief.

Think about Cole without guilt.

Think about Caleb, who is not evil, just debilitatingly lonely.

Think about PJ, so selfless and kind to me.

Think about Sam who is stretched so thin but who always takes the time to remind me not to hyperventilate or to panic when around the corner hope waits, held out by God. Just take it, he says, Sam will help you learn to use it.

Think about Ben, who is attempting to fix everything in his own way. With emotional pyrotechnics. With jangling guitar leads and absent-presence.

Think about Lochlan.

Lochlan.

The sun. The constant. I open my eyes, he's there. Every good morning since 1983. If that wasn't a sign then I will paint it myself.

Think about life and what it means. Life is peppers and orchards and ants and lilacs and sunscreen and love. Life is not mourning for those who can't care but for loving those who do. Life is lights and magic and fire and exhilaration and wristbands and freaks.

Life is weird.

This one is mine.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Up at three thirty and down to the library so I can Skype with Ben before he heads out for his afternoon (very small windows to talk and they aren't convenient with the time difference) and he is disappointed and mostly crushed that I assume the worst.

He says just because it's the first time out in forever doesn't mean it's a slide. Maybe it's a ladder instead.

Are there snakes?

Everywhere, he laughs.

He tells me Loch told him the balloon animal was an alligator and I point out that demotes me from twelve to possibly eight. He laughs again and says he misses me. He asks if I'm staying out of the garage. Off the cliffs. Away from the water. Out of Sam and Matt's hair. He asks if I am looking after Daniel. I ask him if there is anything wonderful about my presence anywhere and he says he has no way to gauge how I'm really doing without him.

Then ask. I tell him. I'm met with silence.

I'm too afraid to do that. 

That's too bad. I could tell you a story though. I met this guy once and he was pretty cool. He still is. He was here for a long time but he keeps going away and I think he thinks he's doing it to give everyone a break but I miss him so much. He is the centerpiece of my heart and since he's not here there's a hole straight through and when the wind blows it howls right through my heart with the most unbelievable sound and it aches something fierce. I think it might kill me yet. 

Hope not, he whispers.

Then don't be too long, I whisper back.

Monday, 25 May 2015

He made me a balloon animal.

To cheer me up.

'Cause I'm twelve.

(It's a cat. I think?)

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Didn't run. Didn't do anything.

Ben has made a grand effort to push away or completely alienate as many of us as possible here and it's working to the point where, when I ask why they aren't backing up their brother in arms they shrug and say he's making it too hard, and that Ben is Ben. He'll eventually come back and they will deal with him then. 

And it's true. He has a long colorful history of being an asshole, picking fights and then taking off for endless tours only to come back and charm everyone to death, fitting right back in amongst us in the most loving way, a giant among mostly regular-sized folk. 

I keep clinging to the hope that this is how it will go but somewhere in there I know that there is a chance that when he comes back we'll have to put him back together before he can fit in properly, that maybe he'll pick up old habits..

Maybe? Probably, I mean. Because he will. Because he set me free beforehand so this wouldn't be my burden which is misguided and mistaken. It still will be. He's still mine. I acknowledge none of his bullshit. He's still mine. 

Still mine. 

Still. 

I don't care what he says.

He called Caleb, Batman, Lochlan and PJ too and gave them all a piece of his mind with regards to not allowing me to come and meet him in New York. Even though PJ had nothing to do with it and I was going to bring Lochlan with me. 

And money wasn't an issue. I could have come without Caleb's card, I do have my own hard-earned money. It was the fact that they probably would have physically prevented me from leaving if it had come to that. 

But it didn't. Because they're right. I miss Ben like crazy but it would have been rushed and stressful. We don't know what condition he's in or what state of mine. He's a great liar on the phone. On Skype. I would have not weathered a visit so well only to have to leave him again. 

But he's still mine. 

Still ours. 

(Lochlan hasn't said a word. Not a single word.  I think I love him more than ever just for that.) 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Friday, 22 May 2015

Anchor hocking.

He used to say the same things over and over again to me. Nevermind the hypocrisy of it all, the words have hardly changed, beginning on the midway when I was eleven and he came to see us when we would venture close to home on the circuit.

You're so brown. So thin. So tall. He smiled and I knew he was buttering me up. I turned pink in the sun. I still had all of my baby fat, kept innocently rounded on the hard edges via a diet of sugar&fried, and I hadn't grown in three weeks. My jeans still hit the tops of my laces. That's the measurer, you see. When they part ways it's time for bigger clothes. It's a rule. Lochlan told it to me. I checked every day but nope. I never ever grew.

(Had I known I would get no taller I would have have been crushed so I'm pretty sure height was a religion back in that day.)

You're old. I return the favor. He shaves every day, I bet, but hasn't since at least last weekend. He looks wiser and handsome and a little tired and something else, only I don't know what the else is. Maybe he will volunteer it. That's what you do when you're twenty and not eleven.

This isn't a safe place for a little girl. He said it with a new look. Concern. I pay him no mind. He said it before. My parents think I'm at Lochlan's family's summer cottage. His parents think he's at mine. This is the eighties. No one checks in. Everything's great.

Are you going to stay and get a wristband for the week? I have a guy. You can get a discount. 

He smiled. No, I'm interning at a firm in Toronto. I just wanted to see you before I went. I'm driving up in a few days.

Do you have to?

Yes, if I want to be a lawyer. What does he feed you?

I want to be a mermaid. You don't intern for that. You just go swim. 

But what's the purpose? And you didn't answer the question, 

To make the ocean even more beautiful. And he makes me eat so many vegetables. He made me eat turnip and sweet potato. Bustle sprouts and pork roast but I didn't eat the pork because it's meat so he makes me eat an egg if I don't have what the meat is.

Just today? 

No, vegetables every day. At least three. Also three fruits and then two things that have to be a meat or egg and then the rest can be sugar. 

I see. 

Have you said hi to him yet? 

No, I wanted to check in with you. 

The phrase you want is 'check up on' me. 

He's got you on the defensive. 

I'm never allowed to play football or road hockey so no, he's got me on the side. 

Sidelines. 

Yes, behind the line so I don't get in the way. 

I missed you while I was at school, Bridget.

I missed you too. 

You did?

Yes. We walk everywhere now. I miss your car.

He broke out laughing. I gotta go. Gotta head back home to see Mom and Dad and Cole before they find out I'm back in the province from someone else. 

What about Lochlan? 

I'll be back tomorrow night. Tell him I didn't buy the line he taught you about the vegetables and I'll take you out to dinner somewhere nice. Be ready at six. I'll bring the car so we don't have to walk. 

Only if you come back and stay for some rides afterward. 

I promise. 

Cross your heart and hope to die? 

If I do that who's going to ride the rides with you?

Lochlan, like always. You know he doesn't have a dress shirt so let's not make it too fancy a place, okay?

Who said he's invited?

Thursday, 21 May 2015

BLAH.

You say you want
Diamonds on a ring of gold
You say you want
Your story to remain untold

But all the promises we make
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you
Caleb said no.

I threw the pepper grinder at him. He swore and ducked and then yelled for a truce. That he could say yes and then I would go and see Ben and spend time with him and get even more messed up when I came back. He said he was doing it to protect me. He said he might even be giving Loch the advantage by doing so but it's better than having me halfway across the country when I hit the ground next.

I'm fine, I told him.

You are, if fine means knocking knees and a quivering lip. 

Not like you could fix it. 

You never let me try, Neamhchiontach.

It's not your job, it's mine and I could have fixed it if I can just go see Ben. 

Yesterday you were going to fix it by bringing Jake back from the de-

DON'T SAY IT. 

And there resumes the quivering lip. Let me know if you need anything, because I already had your cards frozen in case you decide to leave without permission. 

That's fine. I don't need them. 

And Batman will not be enabling you as he agrees with my reasoning. 

GODDAMMIT, CALEB! 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The B&B Carousell.

That extraordinary life of yours. Almost touching a bear. Here I thought I was the one with all the adventure. 

No, you're a basement-dwelling wannabe, that's all. I'm excelsior personified. 

That you are. Will you be in one piece when I get home or will I have to look for the stain on the driveway where you last stood? 

I don't think they're going to let me go outside anymore. I'll soon be so pale I'll be translucent and you'll have to put stickers on me to make me more visible to the naked eye. 

I like you naked. 

Just my eye. 

Oh. You have pretty eyes. 

No, just one eye. The other eye has clothes on. 

I can get those off. 

No, they're very small. 

I will use my tiny man-hands. 

Okay! You win. 

With tiny man-hands I don't think I'm winning. 

They aren't tiny. 

Then your eye will stay clothed and decent for all eternity. 

Good enough. 

I didn't actually call about the bear. 

Oh. Okay then. Are we going to discuss the weather? 

No, we should discuss the weekend though. I have a few days off coming up and I think we should meet in New York. 

You have meetings? 

No, but Coney Island is nice this time of year. 

*BLINKS*

Bridget?

Yes? 

What are you doing? You disappeared for a minute. I thought you hung up. 

Sorry, I couldn't hear you. I was BUSY PACKING. 

That's my girl. Don't bring any clothes though.

They won't let me in nude, Ben. 

So we stay at the hotel instead. 

NO FUCKING WAY, BENNY. 

Are you excited for me or the amusements? 

You...okay..both. But your giant man-hands are enough of an amusement all on their own. 

Good. I call my huge hands the eye-strippers. 

That's weird. And we don't call them strippers. They are peelers. 

The eye-peelers! 

See, that sounds yucky. 

Nothing yucky about wanting to see your naked eyes and hold you in my arms. 

The rides just fell to a distant second, Ben. 

Yup, that's my girl. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

I'm always in trouble right up until they make my excuses for me and then suddenly I'm not responsible. It's a roller coaster. I hate extreme rides. Give me the rickety little Ferris wheel off to one side and you know where I'll be for the rest of that day and the ones that follow.

I put my hands up over my ears and Sam pulled them off. He's in my face. I'm still in the trouble part of this. 

Why were you even there? He's beside himself. He doesn't understand this part of me. How could he? I don't. 

I stare back evenly but my brain wanders back to the bear. I thought it was small. I thought I was safe. It told me I was safe and yet when Caleb came out to make sure I was safe to walk the fifty feet from the bottom of his steps to the kitchen door I was a foot from it and it was big.

Maybe he magnified it. 

I didn't magnify it, Neamhchiontach. It was real. I think you minimized it somehow to withstand the shock. He strokes my head and Sam stands back. They're all rattled. I almost feel like I've achieved some higher level of understanding, sifting through the mundane, the inconsequential to discover life has this whole profound stage where everything is magnified. Everything feels bigger and the little things dissolve entirely. These big things are life and death, love and hate, risk and safety. Survival. Awareness. Faith, or maybe not. Maybe letting go of everything I believe in and seeing what comes to me next. 

Sam calls it something else entirely. He says I have broken with reality, that it's shock. Nothing more. That I will come around. I'll feel better. I'll be myself again instead of whoever this is. He says I was vulnerable to it, that between Ben's abdication and Lochlan's efforts to also stand back and see what happens, I'm doing that thing where I coast. 

Coast. 

I feel raw. I feel like I'm about to shatter. I feel like I might throw up. 

John says You saw a fucking bear, Bridget. Up close and personal. Make your peace with this and get some rest. 

PJ said I'm going to pour you a drink. You'll be fine. You need sleep.

But there's no peace and I'm not tired suddenly and I don't want any more alcohol. Sam takes over again. God bless him, he tries. Jacob left him a riddle with no answer in me.

If Jake came back, I'll be fine. If he doesn't, nothing's every going to change. 

You love too hard, Bridget. You leave yourself unprotected. 

You can't love someone if you're locked down like that. If you aren't willing to take the risk. Let's face it, I'm the bravest person you'll ever meet. 

If brave means foolish, then yes, Princess. You're brave as hell. 

(Hell isn't brave. I was there Sunday night. Hell is paved in pewter silk, five o'clock shadow and a hunger that never diminishes. Hell is a monster and damn, does he ever feel good, but brave? No.)

But I nod because I'm above all this and I can't seem to come down. I'm still worried about exploding into a firework of broken glass. I'm worried Sam might be standing too close when I do. 

Monday, 18 May 2015

The girl who loved.

Three forty-five and I'm tracing the B in DIABHAL on his back while he sleeps, facedown in dreams.   I can't cover the whole letter with my hand flat, that's how big the word is hammered into his flesh drop by drop with permanent ink so he never forgets who he is to me. The letters are half solid, half filigree, so ornate if you didn't know what it said you'd be hard-pressed to read it outright. It's a beautiful piece, making up for such an ugly event that we relive over and over again.

In contrast, my neamhchiontach tattoo contains two of the letter C. One for Caleb, one for Cole. It's tattooed across the top of my back in Caleb's handwriting, freakishly neat and flourished in a masculine yet beautiful way. It had to be his hand that wrote it. That was part of the deal.

His dream must be good. Usually if I wake up, he wakes up, if he even sleeps at all.

*
Five forty-five and he has turned but not acknowledged me in his sleep as I quietly dress and let myself out. When I make it to the bottom of the steps there is a bear in the driveway.

Not a big one, but big enough. Maybe three years old. Probably a hundred and fifty pounds.

I'm not allowed to dance with you, I whispered and he stopped and looked in my direction, sniffing the air.

It took a step and waited for instructions. If it wasn't going to be a dance, then what? What are you out here for in a night that belongs to all the things that can destroy you? the bear said to me.

It's daylight now. Nothing can hurt me, I told it as Caleb picked me up right off the ground so violently I lost my breath, rushing us both back up the steps and into the house, locking the door, choking on adrenaline. In the dark my estimate of a hundred and fifty pounds was off by double or more, I found out later.

*

Seven forty-five and I watch as the boys fan out across the property in search of the bear itself and then the breach in our supposedly well-fortified fence efforts.

The gate was open between the stone walls on the way across to Daniel and Schuyler's. Daniel couldn't manage it with his crutches on the way back last evening. He was rife with dread and apologetic to a fault.

Dan. We said. Stop it. The bear would have climbed the walls had he not walked right through.

But still.

Plans were drawn up for new self-closing hardware on all the gates and a top rail drilled into the stone to make things even less appealing. There is a trap on the road up the street from our gates. This is a nuisance bear and has been in other yards already.

And we have a fortress now, moreso than ever.

Lochlan's arms closed around my neck from behind me as I stood watching the sudden frenzy of work, still a little dazed that I could have reached out to pet something that would have killed me.

Twice in the same night.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

All 10 games, 66 goals and just like that Canada takes the World Hockey Championship.

YEAH.

SUCK IT, EVERYONE ELSE.

Sorry. Realllllly drunk fight now.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Maybe it's starting to sink in finally, and maybe I am still sicker than I thought.

Ben never entered into this to try and fix things or make up for things or change things. He and I were attracted to each other probably more physically than anything and the love part was slow in coming. We had a lot of growing pains. He had a huge substance abuse problem and an ego problem and was immature and sometimes selfish to a fault. He never wanted to be conventional even as he found it fun in the way that anything becomes a novelty in its infancy. He wanted Loch on board for the parts he couldn't cover. The serious parts. The tough parts. Any part that contained his absence, really. Lochlan was an easy sell. A duplex marriage. Polyamory. Divide the love and it grows instead of fractioning off. Split life evenly down the middle and watch it flourish.

We're good at this. This works. Ben has no ego with me, with us. He is patient and generous, perpetually distracted and hopelessly in love with Lochlan.

He keeps saying that this will give us a chance to sort everything out, but that isn't what this is. This is a test and it's one for Ben to find out if he has a place here. If there is room for him in the big overwhelming teenage love that is Lochlan and Bridget.

I know there is, we've been doing this for years.

I have been pretending for days now that he is just downstairs working and everything is business as usual. It's better than thinking he's walked away. Better than thinking he might come back and everything would be different or that he might not come back at all.

Better than waiting for him when he's barely left.

Better than losing my mind.

Better than feeling my heart break again when sometimes it feels as if there are hardly any pieces left, big enough to fracture. Most of what is left has been pounded into dust. I'm not capable of weathering any more but Ben knew that if he left me choices that it would be okay. So August came back. Joel didn't go very far, Daniel and Schuyler crowded right in and Sam set up a command post downstairs to conduct the whole mess like a song. Lochlan held back, held his breath while Ben gingerly pulled the trigger on the legal side of things because he wanted to all along, and now who knows?

Who knows?

Friday, 15 May 2015

First.

The sea knows where are the rocks
And drowning is no sin
You know where my heart is
The same place that yours has been
We know that we fear to win
And so we end before we begin
Before we begin
DUDE.

Hands down easily the best show I've ever seen. The band brought all the class. The sound was great, the crowd was nice, the merch was fast, the projection screen/concept (innocence and experience tour so the stage was an i and an e connected by a catwalk) was original and well-executed and the band was..well,

They were U2.

They sounded precisely like their albums. No lie. I was stunned at the quality of the show. They brought humor, politics and raw given talent. They brought it all.

I cried like a fucking baby during Pride. I got three songs off my list (Pride, Vertigo and City of Blinding Light) plus a little bonus because at the end of The Miracle of Joey Ramone, Bono took his first little walk out into the crowd singing Radio, radio, radio from the end of Promenade and I lost my shit.

Every Breaking Wave and Raised by Wolves are now both easy favorites.

Edge fell off the stage at the end. I didn't see it until I read about it later and watched the video. He's okay. Sucks to be scratched up for tonight's show. Makes me remember how fragile these guys are and how ambitious to embark on a huge tour knowing that things happen, people get injured or sick. Cancelling is expensive and trepidatious.

But yeah. That was a life-altering show and I'm grateful for having gone. Here are the requisite pics from our once-thought-to-be-terrible seats which turned out to be the best view in the house. I never sat down once but still had to go up on tip-toes to see over arms and heads.

(The pictures are watermarked because the internet is a terrible place and these are my memories but enjoy them in all their fully-compressed Blogger quality nonetheless.)



For those who are not U2 fans and come for the drama, there was none. Both Caleb and Lochlan were on their best behavior. Lochlan had an absolute blast and Caleb even let his hair down for a couple of hours, drinking beer and grinning his face off. He may have danced. I'll never tell.

Okay, he totally fucking danced.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Radio radio radio.

  1. Bad
  2. Pride (in the name of love)
  3. One
  4. City of Blinding Lightss
  5. Stuck in a moment you can't get out of
  6. Hold me Thrill me Kiss me Kill me (I know it's from Batman Forever. Don't judge.)
  7. New Years Day
  8. Vertigo
  9. 40
  10. Promenade
That's it. That's my dream list of songs (maybe they're in order, maybe they're not) that I want to hear tonight at the U2 concert. It's the first show of the entire world tour and I'm already just about to throw up from excitement. I contemplated driving into town to pick up merch yesterday instead of waiting and then I decided to listen to a few more songs first and changed my mind. 

40 seems like it would be the best song to save for last. I now I'm going to cry a bunch of times. I know I'll sing. I'm just a little worried that I will explode from excitement between now and tonight. I hope I don't. That would be a tragedy. 

Also sad is that I had to give away Ben's ticket because Ben isn't here. He was supposed to go with Loch and I. He saw them before anyway. I gave his ticket to the Devil (also a fan), who promptly looked at Lochlan and said, 

How about that, Sparky? Looks like we're going on a date.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

I also worry about cars that have blue teeth because it sounds so ridiculous, does it not?

Hello from Sam's bed. I'm taking up Sam's side (smells like teen spirit, wouldn't you know) while Matt sleeps soundly on the other side. Matt has a really really bad cold and called in sick and I offered to make him the Polish (very strong paint thinner-like) tea he makes when I'm sick but we both declined in favor of more sleep.

Every man I know can just put his head down and fall asleep. Is it penis related? I lie down and the worries smother me alive and I have to spend an hour or two shutting them down one by one like warehouse lights until I can finally have enough peace to let go. It takes forever. It's mental. It's anguishing. It isn't fair.

Matt smells like patchouli, if you wondered, like I did. He smells like Jake. I think they wear the same scents. Essential oil blends, not aftershave or cologne because we're hippies first and refined folks second.

I smell like antibiotics and despair as usual. It must be addictive if you have a penis. I don't know. No one will let me borrow one for a bit to try it out. I don't think my dresses would hang right if I had one anyway and besides, they pop up (not the dresses, silly) when you wish they wouldn't and who needs that madness?

So yep, just lying here trying to have a nap. As soon as I get rid of all these needless penis worries. Not like I'm going to grow one any time soon and wait, there was an earthquake in Japan and another one in Nepal and suddenly anatomical worries seem so shallow and I can do so much better and worry about the big things and...and...

Note to self: Next time someone offers you a blackout drink to help you sleep, fucking take it, idiot girl.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Princess bitters.

Daniel is such a good sport. He let me paint flowers all over his cast and then I painted his toenails hot pink.

Ben watched via Facetime while he and Daniel spent time together. 

I said nothing but after he tried and failed to engage me five times over I gave him the middle finger. 

I'd eat that right off you if I was there. 

Then come and get it. I told him. The look on his face said he understands exactly how I feel about his absence and how it's finally beginning to sink in. 

When Daniel's cast and toes were dry I hung up on Ben and made some ham sandwiches and tea for lunch, brought on a tray in to the living room. We're going to watch musicals and fall asleep on each other because it is the best way to heal from everything. Broken bones and kidneys and everything in between. 

Like hearts maybe. Or spirits. Or promises! 

Monday, 11 May 2015

Meet my lizard kings: Meriadoc and Peregrin.

Eight-fifteen and the kids have gone to school after failing to secure any rides whatsoever today. If it's raining they can easily convince any one of the boys to drive them up the hill. If it isn't raining they must walk, for it builds character to make your own way.

Or something like that.

We try not to spoil them.

Or rather, I try not to and everyone around me does their very best to ignore my attempts to make tough, resilient, self-reliant humans. You know, everything I am not.

Caleb comes around the side of the house to the front porch where we are languishing with the last of the contents of the teapot and the headlines and says Neamhchiontach. 

I see Duncan shake his head just once.

This won't be good.

Yes? I ask. I don't know what he wants, truth be told. It's early. It's Monday. I have no plans other than a trip down the road to the store because we need milk and juice. I drank all of the juice. All of it. Not sorry.

Come. I need you for the morning. 

Duncan says, she's busy. You can't see that she's busy?

She doesn't look busy, Caleb states.

Well, she's very busy today. Dalton confirms this with the most beautiful smirk.

My eyebrows go up and I look back at Caleb. I'm so busy. I'll have to catch you another day. 

What are you busy with, precisely?

She's busy with...things. 

Yes, things. 

I'm busy with things, Diabhal. If you give me a little warning next time I can try to fit in a little time for you. 

If we finish the things.

Yes, but these are ongoing things. 

Who do I have to thank for your bodyguards this morning? Pyro? Benjamin? 

I heard it was PJ. 

Really? I thought it was Sam. 

You said Batman! (I jump in because this is too much fun suddenly.)

Maybe it was...God himself. Dalton makes his chin quiver and I laugh.

Christ almighty. (Caleb is so done.)

That would be his son, yes, it could have been him too! Dalton suggests this and Duncan nods enthusiastically.

Bridget, I'll talk to you later today, when your fan club gets bored. 

We're not fans. To have fans you have to do extraordinary things. She doesn't do anything extraordinary. 

Well, not to us anyway. 

Probably for the best. That would be so distracting. 

Speak for yourself, idiot! 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

(I called him the Hot-Ness Monster once. He did not approve.)

I drew a four of swords this morning and almost dropped the whole tarot deck on the kitchen floor. I always wanted the fortune teller's job as a child because she had all the answers if only you would ask her the questions. I wanted to wear big golden hoops in my ears and stand in the doorway just after sunset, accepting cash from the hopeful who would pay anything for me to tell them what to do. Nevermind that ninety percent of it was bullshit. Ten percent was still the truth and that's all that mattered.

I'm not feeling better today, in fact, I'm feeling a whole lot worse but I'm going to grin and bear it because that's what one does when one is me. Today feels a little edgy and whole lot helpless as if the tiny part of me that is missing Ben so badly but is hiding like a spark under a pile of dried twigs is just going to erupt and spread like wildfire until there is nothing left of anything.

I can't let that happen so the part that is angry at him prevails until further notice.

And Happy Mother's Day. For me it's like being a Christmas baby in that Mother's Day and my birthday are too close together to have two celebrations so other than eating dinner outside (a special treat because BUGS, they hate them) and perhaps a fire show at sunset from THAT guy, it's going to be quiet.

However, I'm going to stretch out in the shade and read all afternoon. I got the entire set of Outlander novels for my birthday and so far they are very good.

(So very, VERY good.)

A woman who's in love with two men, one of whom is a redheaded Scottish highlander who is difficult and one on the fringe? No, I don't know anyone who would want to read something like that.

Oh my GOD, this book is about us. 

Not hardly. I'm a Midlander, if anything. 

True. And I wouldn't miss Frank. Not even for a minute. 

Because he's boring?

Well, that and because he's no Jamie. 

What's so good about Jamie? She doesn't even know him. 

She doesn't have to! He has red hair and an accent! Nothing else is required! 

Maybe Claire is a little too shallow for her own good. 

Eh, she's holding out so I doubt it. 

She's holding out? Then what's the rub? 

I have no idea, they just had a drink together though so it's inevitable?

What is?

Torrid eighteenth-century sex, naturally.

Oh, I see. You're reading historical porn?

No, I told you. They just had a drink. Give me a few hundred pages and then probably, yes I am.

I wish the fortune teller could have told me that! 

Why? What would you have done differently?

I would never have taught you to read! 

I could read before I met you, Lochlan, Jesus! 

Dr. Seuss doesn't count, Bridget. 

Too bad. I could have written a sequel. Oh, the Assholes you know!

Is that right? But he's laughing. He's laughing and he didn't stop for half the morning. Every time he looked at me he would burst out laughing again.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Short rounds.

I spent part of my morning with the nice older Russian doctor today, since Caleb requested him as a favor. No doubt he'll have to pay that favor back but at least I wasn't subject to a laundry list of all the things I could enhance if only I wanted to look...better.

I just want to feel better, that's all. The kidney infection didn't clear up completely and came roaring back yesterday and by this morning I was ready to throw in the towel and start googling black market kidneys.

You probably just needed a stronger antibiotic, they said.

It will be fun, they said.

This is so not fun, I pointed out but they didn't want to hear that. I don't even want to say it.

But I'm on the mend (again). Ben called and is Concerned but Concern does little from there and if he comes home now he's out more than he'll make. I have lots of nursemaids in his absence. Big ones with beards and one Devil who bought stole my soul and was supposed to give me a perfect life in return but things keep getting stuck in the gears.

I'll be okay.

As always, it's beautiful when Loch and Caleb get along as they both fuss over me without turning it into a competition.

I may still google the possibility of buying a kidney or two. A pair and a spare? Just in case? Do you think they cost less than Cirque Du Soleil because that was so far out of my means I almost cried. Even with Batman's resources added in. It was phenomenal and it wasn't even remotely enough.

Friday, 8 May 2015

From Miele to melee.

Caleb elaborated on the pool/spa/sauna installation, saying it will be the perfect prescription for rehabilitation for Daniel once his cast comes off, and will be good for anything, really. That it's less recreation and more therapy. The pool itself isn't going to be very big. I'm kind of glad. I pictured a large sterile rectangular eyesore. This will be built into the landscape and be part of it, not apart from it.

The deep end will be nine feet maximum. Good. Any deeper than that and I scream because Cole convinced me there were sea monsters nipping at my legs under the surface when I was little and I still kind of believe him only it spilled over from the ocean to regular pools and it's very hard for me to go over my head without a lot of mental distractions, which is ironic considering I say I go off the deep end all the time. (Reap what you sow, Princess.)

Ben called, asked if I was good and then hung up. Then Loch's phone rang and he and Ben talked for over an hour. About Daniel, about me. About the Devil. About the arrangement we have and what state it will be in this August.

About that threat.

Lochlan downplayed it, which is so easy for him to do when he didn't tell Ben that he already ambushed Caleb at breakfast this morning, piledriving him into the dishwasher and then they rolled under the table, throwing fists so hard you would think someone was angry about something.

It took me over two hours to get the blood out of three shirts. The third shirt belonged to August, who put his hand up to block Lochlan from jumping back in and wound up flat on his back clutching Loch against him. Loch is still flailing at this point and had to be talked down. That fell to Sam, who has no use for Devils and was anxious to soothe Lochlan. I would have but Dalton carried me out of the room so that I wouldn't be hit by stray fists/chairs/plates. August would have but it was taking every ounce of energy he had just to hold Lochlan back.

Again, don't be too dismayed. They've been brawling on the floor since before puberty. So just about forty years, all told. Not a lot changes. They're competition. They're fine with it. Caleb throws out this bait and Loch takes it and runs because Loch is stubborn, obstinate and pure and Caleb is a reckless singularly-focused nightmare. They goad each other until the whole mess boils over. You should have heard them yelling as they struggled. I was embarrassed. I was ashamed. I feel like I should maybe crawl off and down between the cracks in the floorboards and disappear but then they would find something else to fight over.

I guess soon they'll be able to do it in the pool. At least the water will be marginally softer than the kitchen appliances, one of which now needs to be replaced and better come before any ground-breaking for pools takes place. In the meantime, they can take turns washing dishes.

I don't even live here! complains Caleb.

Thank fuck, Loch says. He's gingerly feeling the top of his ear where he was clipped by a fist. It's the only good hit Caleb got in.

Caleb, on the other hand, looks like a prize-fighter fresh out of the ring. His face is wrecked and bruised but he wouldn't let me look at it.

Maybe I earned it, he said. But you're worth it.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Child of Bees.

Seventeen, all he's ever seen
Is living in between the lies
It's kind of funny how a mind
Can keep living in denial

Eighteen is a very strange scene
He's still playing with the past
Expelled, maybe someone could've helped
If someone had known to ask

Hey, look what you did to me
When you were taking me home
Getting me stoned
Leave me alone
The Devil is describing his plans for an in-ground lap pool/sauna/jacuzzi arrangement when I make my way out to the boys that are standing in a loose semi-circle. John bends at the knee and I jump on his back, looping my arms around his neck as he stands back up straight, his hands coming up under my knees. Caleb meets my eyes and loses his train of thought completely. PJ reminds him instantly and he continues on but he doesn't look at me again.

The pool will be in Daniel and Schuyler's yard, technically. They have a huge rock wall and a larger flatter expanse of yard before the cliff. I should know, I carved the whole damn thing up the night I took my epic naked motorcycle ride. So much room. It's going to be amazing. I nod along with everyone.

But really I'm not impressed.

(I hate pools.)

(Also hot tubs. I hate those too.)

(Did you know the province I was born and raised in has seven thousand, six hundred kilometres of seacoast? Right. Who needs pools? Salt trumps chlorine any day.)

(A sauna might be okay though)

Then they all head back inside and I am dropped gently back to ground. I stay in that spot though and Caleb turns back to stare at me. The wind is ruffling his hair ever so slightly. His medium blues are washed out in the cloudy brightness. His expression is terrible.

PJ grabs my hand. Come, Bridge.

In a minute.

Want me to wait with you?

No, I'm fine.

PJ looks at Caleb and Caleb meets his eyes. I won't keep her long, the Devil says, his words flat, expressionless. PJ accepts that for some reason I can't comprehend, heading inside. He knows better than to bite the hand that feeds him. He is the pet bird of the Devil and he doesn't even know it. I chew on that hand like a dog.

Happy Birthday, Dollface. I have something for you at the house. It seems there was a concentrated effort to keep me from you on your big day. 

It wasn't that big a day and it was pure coincidence. They weren't trying to prevent birthday wishes but you know that already. 

What is the plan, Neamhchiontach?

For what? I'm waiting for Ben to come back.

I'm well aware of what you're all doing. Don't play coy with me. I never liked that.

I'm waiting. For Ben. To come back. Was I not loud enough?

Belligerence isn't a good plan.

Neither are demands!

Is your plan to stick it to me by marrying Pyro before he turns fifty? Just to twist my screws a little more? Does he think you'll suddenly stop coming to me if you're married? Like you stopped with Jake except you didn't and we all know how that turned out. Hell, you've never dropped either of us in spite of any new husband you've taken up. I hope Lochlan doesn't expect that to change suddenly.

We're not getting married for a long long time, if at all.

Bridget, regardless of when, this is one life choice I can't allow and I have put up with a lot from you over the years. You left my brother and took away his childen, you took up with Jacob who assaulted me, you remained in league with Loch even as I warned you to stay away from him, and now you're slowly trying to shut me out again. I wouldn't advise that at this point in your life but you keep at it as if it's going to work somehow.

I wouldn't. We have to coparent. 

Then what? What is the plan?

Well, according to you I'm going to marry Lochlan and you're going to walk away from me. You've got it figured out already, I guess.

What about Cole?

He's gone. At some point I'll have to say goodbye. It isn't him that I come for anymore anyway. It's you.

Neamhchiontach, if you say things like that, don't expect me to walk away from you without the biggest fight Lochlan's ever seen. 

Wow. 

Yes, wow. Wow would be the biggest understatement of your lives. Bigger than an amusement park, bigger than the circus, bigger than anything you could even imagine. So yes. Wow. 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

In his brother's absence Daniel became keeper of the pipes again and busted out an incredible (and terrible) rendition of Happy birthday, held up by Schuyler because he doesn't have a walking cast yet and you can't play bagpipes sitting on yer arse, as Loch helpfully pointed out.

Yes, he was still drunk. Why do you ask? He was rough and affectionate last night and told me point-blank that he's afraid of me. Afraid of the way I make him feel. And that he's got to deal with it before we take another step. There is so much baggage involved we might need to rent a van. Or perhaps a cargo plane.

And I don't know if I'm willing to tie him down in the way that people expect. I mean, I've tried in the past and it's blown up in my face. Fourth time's the charm or give up already because you can't pin down a man who manipulates fire for a living? Or took you with him when he ran off to join the circus for that matter? It's like pinning flames to a moving target.

You'll get burned.

I've been burned. I have scars. Maybe we just have to get to a place where we're older and wiser and less hung up on what's right or what's 'best'. Not sure if I know where that place is, though. The plane will know. The plane carrying our baggage. Maybe we can catch a ride on it.

In the meantime we listen to the agony bags squeezed like never before because birthdays, thank God there are two or three a month around here, because Daniel really needs the practice. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The day Ben turned into someone mature and together.

Ben called first thing this morning.

Happy birthday, my Bumblebee. I wish I was there. 

I wish you were here too. 

You okay? 

I don't know. 

I'll be home soon. 

No you won't. You won't be home for months. 

Pretend I'm in treatment.

You probably will be by the end of this. I might be too. 

And Loch. Is he still smashed?

Yes he's still drunk in his sleep, if you can believe it. 

He's not good with pressure. How the hell did you guys ever manage to put on a show together if you both run full bore on pure terror all the time. 

Drugs and cash. 

Makes sense. 

I'm kidding. Jesus. That was instant gratification. This is a life decision, not a aerial performance and definitely not a magic show. 

He could be so cool but the paralysis really takes away from the whole picture. He's a huge fraidy-dork. 

Just like me. 

Naw. You're a tiny little fraidy-dork. You two are going to self-destruct before I even cross the ocean. 

Then why did you leave?

Because it's time to see if you can make this work together. You've waited your whole life for this show, Bridget. Go and be the star. 

I'm not a star. I'm a burned out asteroid, Ben. I'm a fragment. I'm not..

You're a 'naut? What kind of 'naut? 

A stupidnaut. Ridicu-naut. Lamenauts. Paralynauts.

How about fraidynauts for now. Tomorrow you can be bravenauts. 

Why tomorrow? 

Because today is your birthday and if anyone pressures you to do anything other than enjoy the day I'll fucking kill them from here.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Cold light.

I present to Batman this morning, because he was loud and insistent and I wanted him to just stop already.

He is pacing. He is upset. I don't even know why.

Let me see if I have this straight. He picked a fight and then went out again, not planning to be back until the end of next season, effectively leaving you and Lochlan legally married to each other and he did all of this two days before your birthday? 

I nod and sip my coffee. He looks so pained when he gets confirmation. I am barely upset.

I'll speak with him. 

You'll do nothing of the kind. This is what Ben does. Also we're not married to each other yet. Might not even bother. We'll see what happens.

Ben hasn't done this for five years. What gives? 

An opportunity he couldn't pass up right now. He has my blessing. 

No offence, Princess, but your blessing isn't enough. Who authorized him to do this? Especially right now? 

I told you, I did. I'm not going to stand between Ben and his livelihood. He needs a break from all this. 

What about you? Where's your break?

The Devil doesn't give me any space to have one. 

Sounds sometimes like you don't actually mind that. 

My turn to look pained.

He bit you again and they let it slide. 

I bit him back and this isn't your business. 

You are my business. The welfare of all of you is important to me. You need advocates who can be effective, Bridget. 

I have a whole army here, remember?

An army you talk out of action on a regular basis. You charm them, they look the other way.

I need to go. Lochlan's going to wake up soon. 

Is he going to spend the summer drunk, talking about the good old days when you were young and he got all your attention?

You're welcome to come for dinner tonight, as long as you precede your visit with an apology for what you just said. 

I won't apologize for speaking the truth, Bridget. 

Then eat by yourself! 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A road paved with diamonds and a road paved with dirt.

While I was in church this morning, dressed in my smart pale pink Chanel suitdress (courtesy of Caleb), trying to stay awake while parked between Duncan and Christian, Lochlan was sitting on the front steps sharing his morning worship with the bottle of Auchentoshan that we keep hidden for celebrations and emergencies alike. 

When we came home, he raised the bottle and I realized I had no idea which occasion this was, a celebration or an emergency. I'm not sure he did either, judging by his lack of clarity in speaking to me. 

Duncan and Christian went straight in after greeting him and telling him to not have any more, that it's early. Ruth might want to do something today. He nodded and gave up the bottle to Chris, who took it inside with him, leaving me halfway up the front steps waiting for an explanation. 

Sorry, Peanut. It's sometimes far better to check out of a stressful situation than to face it like a man. 

Is that what Ben did?

Ben? What? No, me. The drink. I mean, I'm sorry. He smiles and it disarms me, melting my resolve just enough for me to need to grip the railing because I'm guessing the resolve hardens in my knees. Now it's gone, and they're weak. Don't smile at me like that. Don't call me your circus peanut. Don't be so fucking cute and helpless and afraid and in love. This kills me and they'll blame you when they find my corpse. 

I don't think I can handle this.

What this do you mean, Locket? 

Look at you. You're so pretty and clean and sweet and high-class with your pretty designer dress and your fancy shoes and the cavalcade of cars going up the road in a neighborhood so fancy everyone has gates. Look at you sugar-babying your way through life running this sort of mean balance between princess and freak. I cannot give you this. This seems so you now though. Where's my girl with the sugar smile and the bloody knuckles from trying so hard to help me tear down rides so we could get home faster? My life won't have mansions and fancy dresses and big fridges stocked with groceries I can't pronounce. My life isn't this. I'm a transient in my own existence. What's going to happen when you decide you want that easy, pretty life and I can't provide it for you? You move so easily between being two people. Fancy Bridget of the point and Firebaby. My little filthy, hungry shadow. I can give the shadow everything. I don't even think I know the fancy girl. 

I strip out of my jacket and my shoes and call for Chris to bring the bottle back. He does in a few minutes with a confused look on his face. I thank him and he disappears again. I pull the cork out of the top and take a big gulp, letting it burn off my hypocrisy and and I tell Lochlan that I don't think I know the fancy girl either and I think he's forgotten that you can take the girl out of the circus but you can't ever take the circus out of the girl. 

I ask him if he's going to be okay with this. That we have received a gift from Ben and it would be a waste to let it sit. 

A gift? Naw, Peanut. We worked for this. We earned this, fair and square. I'm just trying to decide if I'm worthy to be in charge of you on my own.


Saturday, 2 May 2015

Signed, sealed, delivered.

Well, the Devil doesn't like this. Not one bit. Ben finally addressed him, telling him what he could expect and what he expected in return because unlike Caleb, Ben has the full support of the entire point. Including Batman, though Caleb himself is responsible for furnishing the collective with what we have now. It's a fine balance and by giving me so much power in his weaker moments, Caleb essentially signed away his rights to be outraged, or to force issues at all in certain areas.

The politics here are exhausting.

But as Ben sees it, there's truly no downside for anyone here. 

Except for his glaring absence which will flay me alive. 

He doesn't think it will. 

We agreed to disagree. 

And with that he goes back on the road.

Just for a few months, he says.

Though a few months is a lifetime to me.

You're in such good hands, he says.

Good hands are a curse and a blessing to me.

I'll be home soon, he says.

You better, I threaten. But there's nothing behind my threats except the empty hole where he once took his place, promising me he would never leave again. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Leave your baggage at the door. You're not going to need it on this trip.

Ben came home, as always in the middle of the night, by surprise, scaring me when I woke up smelling kerosene and I thought we were in our trailer on the road and Lochlan smelled like gas all the time. Everytime he lit a smoke I would close my eyes expecting to be blown to kingdom come by virtue of proximity but he would laugh and assure me he washed his hands. Or at least, he thought he had.

I was pulled up out of my sleepy fog and straight into Ben's lap and I put my head back down against his shoulder as his hands slid down underneath my hips and lifted me over and over. He whispered that he needed to plug in and recharge and I would have laughed but I didn't get it and asked him why he didn't go to sleep if he was so tired.

Missed my girl, he said.

Finally he put me down and I was back at the fair in seconds. Loch's arm went around me from somewhere in the dark and Ben sacked out flat on his back and yet I was still surprised to see him when I opened my eyes this morning.

***

Green cashmere underpants, skinny jeans and a striped t-shirt (so very Jean Seberg) today as I wait for my inspection by the Devil. He wants to know when Ben got back and I blush. He wants to inspect my shoulder from last week and I wince. Two stitches. The Devil is getting better. He had five stitches of his own this time. My teeth are small and sharp. I said we tore each other to bits and I wasn't kidding. We would kill each other if given half a chance but I don't even want a quarter of one. It was a mercy fuck. I just don't know who dispensed the mercy and who received it because we are equally pathetic and I was trying to prove a point.

(I did, in case you're wondering. Can't trust a carny.)

But the Devil doesn't want to compare healing speeds or plan his next assault. He wants to make sure I'm still of the proper mindset. The approved one. The satisfactory-smug one.

Hell, no, I laugh to cover my fear. Because now things have changed. Again.

I leave before he kills me. It seems like one of those days. A sunny inconsequential Friday is the perfect day to wring someone's skinny little neck, don't you think?

***

In between those things the three of us (no, not Caleb) lay in bed at sunrise talking. And listening. And plotting and planning and promising and working out kinks (not those kind) and coming to terms with change. And absence. And culminations. And last names.

And dreams too. Those stupid things you hang onto stubbornly, for so long you forget how it felt when you made them until the day arrives when they come true. All at once. Just like that.

(Don't be so foolish. It's never just like that. It took thirty-five years, all told and we're not done yet.)