Friday, 30 September 2016

First Desponders.

I took a sip of his hot toddy and put it back on the table beside the couch, where we sat facing each other, me on his lap, in his arms, his lips kissing my face all over but mostly just underneath my nose. The hair on the back of my neck is standing up straight. I'm trying and failing to avoid falling into the hole as I lean forward to gauge the depth of the medium-blue of his eyes, pools I drown in, every single time, in spite of the otherworldly efforts to keep me safe, to teach me to swim, to teach me the word no. To teach me to somehow stay away from him.

Some things you can't be taught.

The rum burns the whole way down and I feel sweat break out around my hairline and between my shoulder blades. His arms are so tight. Now that I'm here he's not going to let go.

I let my head fall back to watch the rain on the skylights. It blurs the trees and the darkness, making a river of pine green, silver and navy blue, insulating the night from judgment and history alike.

He kisses down my throat, breathing in the hollow. My skin trembles involuntarily. I'm the queen of excitable reactions. The flush comes more slowly, the fever burn, the wave of warmth and unsteadiness.

Stay, Neamhchiontach. 

He's keeping the nickname for his own use, I note. I shake my head and wobble slightly. His arms tighten. It feels nice to be held like this. He leans his head against mine, holding me close.

How do I get you to stay like this forever?  

I have to go. I've given him what he wanted. A chance to invoke his brother's memory just for a fleeting moment. I can play with fire. That's something you can be taught and I'm good at it, never noticing until my limbs are blackened, my hair singed and my throat tight from the smoke, burned beyond recognition.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

I can be excused for talking politics when it's this entertaining.

I don't know about you but I'm really enjoying the footage and photographs from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's trip here to BC and the NWTs. George and Charlotte are adorable and growing fast, and Kate Middleton's clothing choices are perfect for every occasion. Prince William is really starting to lose his hair but he still looks more like his mother than his father (thank God). But the best part is they look like they're having so much fun, which is nice. Diana always looked so sad. The Queen always looks fierce and Pfft. Camilla. Not even going to say a word about her.

But I do like the news lately and I'll go to my grave a card-carrying monarchist. It's helping give me something to do while I get better, too, which I am, slowly. By degree. Only coughing every second time I breathe today.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Because naked pizza fixes everything.

Better today. I've graduated to bed with Ben who fulfilled my wishes for naked pizza and So You Think You Can Dance, Hindi Edition. 

So much better than yesterday.

(No offence, PJ.)

I want to have the kind of energy these dancers do. 

When you're better, you will, Ben says. 

I could be a hundred and ten percent and I'd still only have a fraction of it, I tell him. 

Practice, then. 

Will you do it with me? 

Sure, but only outside. I don't want to break anything. 

Oh, on the grass? To protect our limbs from the jumping on hard surfaces? 

No, in case I throw my arms up and hit the chandeliers or something. 

Oh, good point. 

See, if you felt better you would have thought of it too. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Bedside manners.

Today PJ came up after the kids and the boys all left for their days and brought toast, orange juice, hot chocolate and tangerines and he got in bed with me and we watched a thousand or more (at least) episodes of Doctor Who.

I hate Doctor Who. Back in the early eighties when I babysat on the weekends half my families didn't have cable either and I was stuck with that show and little else. I learned to bring a book after a while. It was so dry and boring I can't even entertain it now. I hate the series. HATE it.

PJ fucking LOVES it.

I slept. I read. I cuddled and tried to get into the plot but mostly I coughed, hacking up things I could probably name if I wasn't so quick to swallow them in horror. PJ said I should go spit into the sink and I reminded him I was a lady.

Right, he laughed. And then he helpfully pointed out that it would be good to know what colors my phlegm-creatures are for the followup with the doctor, in case I need antibiotics after all.

I have whiskey, I show him proudly. This'll fix me!

Damn. The Devil's been busy getting you wasted and in bed without even having to be in the room. Loch won't like that. 

I know, right? I uncap the bottle and take a huge slug, grimacing so wide my chapped lips crack and bleed. PJ shakes his head and takes the bottle away. You can't have this shit anyway with all the other meds. 

I know. You're right, I tell him. I wish I had a white flag. Life is always smoother here if you walk up to PJ every now and then and just tell him he's right.

But he doesn't take the bottle downstairs, he opens it and has a drink. And we spend the rest of the morning drunk watching at least one thousand and eight hundred percent of season eight. Sigh.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Nurses with hairy legs.

It's a brilliant roman candle
That separates the day from the night
It's that clean, clear truth
That sorts our the wrong from the right
You and your face of light
Caleb came upstairs to say hello after finding out how sick I was from the bill he was probably emailed by the doctor this morning. House calls aren't cheap. Out of pocket healthcare is his responsibility, by his own request. It's been this way through thick and thin.

He brought me beautiful pink roses, some ice cream and a big ol' bottle of Lagavulin, to burn the germs out of me from the inside, he said with a laugh.

Indeed. If that doesn't work I don't think anything would. 

We shared a drink. Seriously. You could use this stuff to santize open wounds, nothing's going to survive in a glass.

I invited him to stay and watch a movie with me but he declined in case I really do have something deadly and promises me a rainy weekend movie if I feel up to it, that he'll check in tonight again, and that I should sleep, at least a little, if I can. I had another coughing fit and he put his arms around me so I could cough over his shoulder while he rubbed my back. When it was over he gave me another swig, this time straight from the bottle.

When I come back I hope that's empty and you're sleeping. 

That's how I get in the half the trouble I find myself in. 

He laughs, kissing my forehead. I'll be back late this evening. Share the bottle with your idiot husband and maybe he'll let me in to say a quick goodnight. 

That's very generous of you. 

I would be even more generous if he's interested. The ball is in his court, Neamhchiontach. It has been for months. He takes the risk and kisses me again, this time on the lips and then he is gone, taking the ice cream with him to put in the freezer for later.

Not three minutes after my door closes, it opens again. Dalton pokes his head in. You okay?

Yes. Want a drink?

No. I don't like Plague-avulin.

Oh my God, you just won the Portmanteau olympics. I'll buy you a fresh bottle tomorrow as your prize.

A week from tomorrow when you're allowed outside, you mean.

A week? Seriously?

Well, maybe if the weather is good Thursday someone will carry you out onto the lanai for some air. Yes, a week. Jesus, Fidget. Now get some sleep. He smiles kindly and closes the door again. I open the bottle and fill my mouth with whiskey, swishing it around my yucky teeth. God this stuff is good.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Smallest= weakest (I dug out my RUNT t-shirt and I'll wear it with pride.)

Cutting Order of Voices with Karnivool today. PJ is a proud papa of his little metal protege. Ben is more proud because he says I'll spend fifteen fucking years swaying over the same songs and then I have a binge where I can't get enough new music. This seems like a fall renewal thing for sure. Like being baptized in pumpkin spice. 

I'm quarantined anyway. The young Russian doctor was here this morning on call and he thinks I have the mumps. I would confirm with my other doctor but the only cure is rest and fluids anyway so Lochlan made me go put on pajamas, Dalton put the kettle on and Ben hung up my new skeleton string lights to cheer me up. 

Yes, I was vaccinated. Yes, I've already had the mumps. But if it's viral it's no big deal, right? (Yes, well, it's worse as an adult. You could go deaf. WELL LUCKY ME I'M 7/8THS THERE ALREADY) It's just contagious as hell and we need to be rid of it before Hallowe'en. Sometimes around this Collective by the time you recover from an illness you catch it all over again. 

But no one's going to avoid me. Instead they're all spoiling me because they all had two days of stuffy nose and sore throat and I got lambasted with something that seems one hundred times worse after a week already of what I thought was a bad cold, now with one whole side of my face/jaw/ear puffed right up painfully to the point where I had to give away an ice cream cone last night because I couldn't eat it. Couldn't manage at all. Cried and then Ben ate it and said it was awful to make me feel better. I got Tylenol and water instead, much like today. 

He's promised me a raincheck on the ice cream and a night of scary movies tonight to help distract. I'm game for at least one. After that I know I'll fall asleep. I feel like I've been up for a year. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Arms dealers.

It's raining  and cold and it was supposed to be nice so instead of the yard work we were supposed to do we opted to stay inside today in comfy flannel shirts. There's a fire in the wood stove in the kitchen and Ben made us pizza from scratch. I had a cup of coffee but not the refill I was offered because I'm smart like that. Lochlan blocked all the awful folks from my email for me and laughed at some of my replies to people. I try to be sweet in person, one-to-one but it's not easy. I got to be Sam's test audience for a sermon he's working on and that tugged pretty hard at my heartstrings but I got over it. Jake used to do his out loud a couple of times throughout the week and then he would hardly need his notes. Sam works slightly differently in that he doesn't use any notes any more but he likes to see if there are things that need to change during the actual delivery. I must be a good audience because my opinions and emotional response to his words will always be right up front, all over my face, a reactionary bukkake, if you will.

(Mom, don't look up that word.)

So it's been a cozy day, and when time permits I've gone to visit each and every one of my boys that is home to see if they are happy. If things are working. If they want changes or have ideas on making difficult things easier. If they have special concerns or issues. It's basically a non judgemental, private stage in which anyone can say what's on their mind, minor or major. Anything they've been thinking about or shy about bringing up in front of others. Dalton wants to use kinder chemicals when we clean. Sam wants more cuddles. He's incredibly lonely. My afternoon becomes heavier as I work my way around to Batman, who wants to know what the plan is for Caleb because he is concerned for my safety and sanity, as always.

I have no answers for that. Sam was the blindside and so I blithely tell Batman to worry less, that my army is bigger and stronger than ever and I'm safe.

Batman tells me that he knows, that he helps fund the army, that he's a part of it even as I try to keep him in a separate little box set aside from everything else.

I come home. I've worked through the list and only three are left. The living heavy weights of my busted little heart. I don't dare ever ask the ghosts what they want.

Ben worries that if he falls off the wagon I'll write him off for good. He says this with his back to me as I spin in the big hanging chair alone.

Never, I promise him. He is mine and I am his but if he's not strong enough to bear my weight on his own, then I will carry him instead. It's the blind leading the blind but it's what I have. If I need to, Lochlan will be recruited to help me.

Ben shakes his head. You're slipping from me. I did it to myself to save you but it's coming. 

Hush. Nothing changes. 

It already changed. 

Stop it, Ben. You're mine. You always will be. 

Hope so, Bumblebee. 

I'm not permitted to see Caleb. Lochlan knows exactly what he'll say, what changes he'd want to make, what he needs here. Another day, Peanut. You can end with me for now.

So I do. Formally I pose him the same yearly questions we all get living here. I'll get the questions posed to me as well. The talks take a while and we'll revisit them all week or maybe even all month long but we keep this Collective running as smoothly as we can. That takes actual work, for those thinking it's some idyllic free for all. It's not. It's difficult.

Lochlan has no want of change. He smiles so easily after saying that I envy him. Except maybe to put the Christmas lights up outside and leave them up. Except to give less power to those who don't live in the house, like Caleb. Like Batman.

And then the others too.

What about Duncan? What about Sam? He has some lingering concerns.

Oh. Do you want to open this can of worms? It's been such a nice day. I'm not sure you're ready to admit to your evil plans.

You want to put it under the rug instead? It's like hiding an elephant under a kerchief. 

But does it work? 

Depends on if it's dark out. 

Well, that's a yes, because it's dark half the time. 

Another day then, Baby. 

I think so. Maybe Tuesday. I have some free time then. 

He nods but the smile has vanished.

Friday, 23 September 2016


It's Friday and Locket took today off too :) except I got up and woke up Ruth and then Henry too and holy, Henry's such a bear in the morning you can hardly look at him for he's snappish and sleepy and clumsy and mad at the world until eleven a.m. sharp. Every day.

Jake was like me. A huge morning person, prone to impulsive joyfulness and a stupid amount of enthusiasm that would leak out all damned day long until it ran out completely around four o'clock, something fundamental shifts and we should just go and close a door and live behind it because the tireds and the crankies take over and there's nothing that can be done to stop it.

It's a bit funny because Henry used to wake up at five, just like me, smiling and wanting to do everything Right Now. It must be the height, for he's tripping just under six feet now. He's a feat of human engineering and humour. He's a riot.

Ruth is just determined. She's absolutely excelling at everything she touches. She's working toward getting her graduated license soon, she has a steady job, a boyfriend, a rock band and a gig as a teaching assistant.

My children are beautiful, they're both on the honour roll, have no cavities (!), no shitty friends and no issues so FUCK YOU IF I DON'T HAVE TO GET UP WITH THEM ONE DAY A WEEK WHEN THEIR NANNY (PJ) TELLS ME TO SLEEP IN.

Seriously. Fuck you already. You think you know me? You don't.

I don't have to write. I said I always would, I said I'd take my knocks and I'd keep myself accountable in this unconventional life but I also said my children are off limits. OFF. I don't talk much about them and I refuse to entertain trolls who tell me I'm a shitty mom. No one ever calls me a shitty wife, no. You're all too busy racking up views whenever I post any little snippet of absolutely anyone touching me at all. You can't help yourselves. When you aren't salivating you're judging things that don't need to be judged. There's an elephant if I ever saw one. But everyone loves a little pervert so how can I possibly do both? Everyone always thinks they know how to parent better. Thank God for my thick skin. Thank God there are so many fingerprints all over me to dull my view of reality from here or I'd really mind you showing up thinking you know everything about my life.


Fuck you.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The army of Eight.

Have you lost your sense of purpose
And who can stand alone
There's no more circus here
There's nothing carved in stone
I see you down in the desert
And on a lonely beach
I'll hold you in those places
Where no one else can reach you
For comfort there
In your wildest dreams
Sleep. He kissed my face this morning and left me cold. Came back and pulled the quilts up, tucking them around my small frame and then disappearing again as I retreated into the dark of my mind. The curtains block the sunrise, someone will make sure the kids remember to grab their lunches from the fridge before they head off to school and Ben is somewhere three floors below me, having never come to bed at all. That means more space and so most of last night I was upside down and screaming for air.

Wait. That isn't different from any other- Oh. Nevermind.

Lochlan has today off. I don't know why he's up so early unless he probably wants to see the kids off himself or maybe even give them a ride to school. That's probably it.

And I'm gone, drifting back off.

But then I wake up abruptly. That happens most of the time. Once I'm awake, I'm awake, in spite of the fog of the drugs they give me to bring me down at the end of each day, when the doubt and the feelings creep too close, pushed against me by the sun as it abandons the day. I feel the fog heavy against my bones. I fumble for pajamas and then for hearing aids too for good measure and I head downstairs.

We've got her back finally. So we can revert to maintenance. Safety being the highest objective. Being there so no one else can get in.

I think this time it will work better since we're all in house.

She goes to one of us, she won't go to anyone else.

I turn the corner and they shift gears so fast their wheels begin to smoke.

We're trying to figure out if we should get going on dismantling the gardens.

Or leave it for a couple more weeks.

Let's split it half and half. I still have tomatoes to ripen, I point out and suddenly I'm so aware of the kind, loving smiles facing me. Like they're so proud. Like I survived a war and came back and they just can't believe it.

Relief. That's what the expression is. The army has their cause back, their precious cargo and everything is under control.

I still remember one of the early meetings. I was picking forget-me-nots along the edge of the ball field and they were sitting in a loose circle talking. Every time I had a handful I would bring them to Lochlan, who took off his baseball hat and let me fill it with the tiny flowers.

At one point I can back with a particularly fat bouquet and he was saying We can take shifts and that way she'll never be without at least one of us-

Who you talking about, Lochlan?

You, sweetheart. We decided you need your own army. We're going to be that army and keep you safe and happy for your entire life.

I watch as they all cut their hands and then stack them in the center. They all sit back, wiping their cut hands absently on jeans, t-shirts, across a forehead. All eyes are on me.

I nod. Shouldn't I cut my hand too? For the pact? If you mix your blood then you should mix with mine too. Then I'm one of you. 

I hold my hand out. Christian passes Lochlan the knife he stole from his grandfather and Lochlan hesitates before Cole tells him to just cut her a little. 

I know it. I'm just trying to figure out where. He studies my hand and then gives up and makes a tiny slash across the meaty part of my thumb. It looks like nothing happened and then all of the sudden blood wells up in a line and spills off the side of my palm. I solemnly walk around the inside of the circle, not even up to their shoulders and shake the cut hand of each one. When I make it back to Lochlan he shakes my hand and then smiles and winks at me before pressing the hem of his t-shirt against my hand until the blood stops coming out.

Okay, you're good. Go pick your flowers. It's almost dark and we gotta go soon. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

He came for enlightenment but left with sorrow instead.

Batman paid me a visit this morning to ask about Duncan. (Because no one is allowed to ask about August. I've already explained it until I'm blue in the face. I don't have to anymore.)

I won't be sleeping with Duncan again so I don't know what everyone is so worried about. 

He seems surprised.

He's intimidating. I mean he's good but as far as chemistry goes he's so far out of my league it's ridiculous. He's a lot like you in that way. Completely intimidating. I was worried about damned near everything and couldn't be myself and I hate that. 

He tilts his head. You're not yourself when you're with me?

I've seen the sort of women you sleep with.


I don't seem anything like them. So I try to be like I think they must be. 

How is that?

Tall supermodels. Women who are sure of themselves. They have style and legs for days and they don't need a man but they want them every now and then. They're independent. Sophie's a good example. 

Bridget, you don't know men at all. 

Oh, I think I do. 

Then think about why you have three households full of men fighting for your attention and get back to me. 

It's because you're all psychologically stunted. I'm actually the one exploiting all of you. 

I wish that were true. 

Which part?

The part where it's you exploiting us instead of the other way around.

It's not so bad, you know. I have a good life here. I'm grateful for everyone. 

That's not the point, Bridget. 

But it is. At least to me.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

World War B.

Schuyler squealed and dropped his coffee mug this morning while reading the news. It appears Brad Pitt is about to be single again.

We all won bets. Brad Pitt isn't someone you settle down with. You just jerk your dress back down to cover your knees and make your way home, tucking your hair behind your ears and fixing your smeared lipgloss.

All of this applies only, of course if it's Brad Pitt circa Legends of the Fall, 1994ish or thereabouts.

Several of us nod. Yup. That hair.

I turn to ask Lochlan if he'll grow his hair that long and he looks cross. Isn't it already, he asks?

No, I shake my head. Not quite. Maybe if we pulled on his huge loopy curls. Wait, maybe it is.

He's a little riled up this morning anyway. I didn't buy into his grand plan to stick it to Caleb using me as a weapon. Weapons don't have feelings, right? Instead I went off and listened to my own inner drummer, who marched right up to the loft and then on the way home jerked her dress back down over her knees, tucked her hair behind her ears and fixed her lipgloss.

Does that mean August isn't someone you settle down with?

Definitely not. He said as much. I'm on borrowed time anyway but at the same time he's got an addictive personality and I'm addictive.

This must be how Brad feels.

Monday, 19 September 2016


(I feel as if maybe this isn't how everyone else's counseling sessions go and I feel sorry for you.)
You may be right
But I don't care
So moving on
I'm telling him the story of how Duncan got invited for a second coveted visit, that Duncan agreed and then at the last second he said he wanted me to come back downstairs with him alone, that he didn't need an audience, thanks, and he'd bring me back up before I fell asleep. That he worked alone, as a rule. But that he's much obliged, as ever, to have the honor. And the trust.

What did they do? 

Nothing. You should have seen the shock on their faces though. 

So did you go? 

No, I got spooked. I feel like I don't really know Duncan like that. I'm not ready to be alone-alone with him. Naked-alone. Like this.

I see. He lifts my dress up over my head. I sit obediently in his lap, facing him, arms up to facilitate.

Plus I'm suddenly worried that Lochlan's going to die so I didn't want to take any risks. 

That Caleb might-

No, that he'll just vanish somehow.

It's normal. Do you want to talk instead of this? He's kissing up my throat, along my jaw and I nod and then shake my head no and he pauses.

Talk after. I unbutton his shirt and stick my face in between the buttons and the buttonholes. He's so warm.

I like this. He rubs his thumb along the band of my sweetheart bra. It's embroidered with roses and peonies in blush, lavender and pale blue. It's vintage.

Me too. I get up off his legs and head toward his room.

August stands up in a hurry, knocking his books off the arm of the couch and follows me to his bed. I crawl onto it while it swings slightly.

I keep trying to separate this but I can't, Bridget. 

I'd rather you didn't anyway. 

I should. I'm no better than Joel if I don't. 

That's different. 

How is it different? But he's pulling me up against him urgently, suddenly out of breath without reason, forcing me down without giving me the leeway to get there. So rough sometimes. Just like Jake. I pull his face down against mine and kiss him hard.

What are you doing, Bridget?

Trying to collect enough love.

And you're not there yet? But he doesn't wait for my answer. He just puts his head back down against my shoulder and begins to drive against me until we both forget what we were talking about.

Sunday, 18 September 2016


History changes things. Time distorts the colors, the focus, the emotions and boils the facts down into hard points that I can load into a gun and blow like buckshot into the backs of those who wrote that history. That's how it should go.

But I won't, because they made for me to be submissive, to ride along, to go with whatever flow lit up our world for the time being without regret or remiss.

I understand that the way I understand little else, and so I hold up my history, pointing out the holes, the burn marks, the bloodstains and the broken hearts and I ask if this is the one, does it fit, is it mine? And Lochlan looks back and his eyes fill with tears and his voice betrays him as he says plainly I'm sorry. 

Only he didn't DO anything wrong and so I'm confused by his apology and by the silence from the others.

Leave it, Bridget, they tell me. What's important is what's in front of you but I know better, fighting my way out of their arms to where I can stand firm on the edge of knowing better, wanting different. If it doesn't get sorted out, there is nothing in front of me because it's obscured by the shadow that remains.

It doesn't matter! Lochlan screams it now. Adamant that if we don't move on it's never going to get better. How can it? The hue has changed, the panic has been paved over and in its place a knot of vague, horrible dread remains.

Do it! He yells as I raise the gun and aim it square between the blades of the shoulders of my nightmare. HURRY, PEANUT!

But then I lower the gun because I know the recoil will hurt like fuck, and I know I'll miss, so that I'll be the one who hurts from the risk I took in taking the shot and no one is even going to notice it was me.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

'I'm not crazy, I'm in control.'

Who else was completely gobsmacked this weekend by Richard Brake's performance in Rob Zombie's 31?

I know I was. He's amazing. Holy fucking shit. Doom-Head just replaced Michael Myers as my all-time favorite scary man.

Aside from Caleb, I mean. I'm talking fictional characters. The monologues Brake did when he had the reverend captive and after he got the call to go finish a job (I don't spoil movies here) are incredible. Oscar-worthy.

Just you watch.

(Disclaimer: I'm a bit obsessed with Rob Zombie movies. Or maybe that's obsessed with Sheri Moon Zombie. Not sure. Don't care.)

Friday, 16 September 2016

Bit my tongue once and it hurt too much to ever to it again.

Dead flowers for the torn apart
Laid at the grave to heal a broken heart
Let it rain until it floods
Let the sun breathe life once more
This morning I found a bent fork sticking out of the grass on my walk and I felt the familiar sting behind my eyes but I persevered and came home intact instead of red-faced, out of breath, drowned from the inside out. I came home weirdly content because the cool breezy air and the smell of rain means fall to me. Not pumpkin spice latte fall because gross. Too sweet. But fall as in soon all the beaches will be clear of people and I can venture back out.

I always have so many questions if we go to a beach that isn't ours, like how can you people just lay out in the broiling sun like that? And how tanned do you want to get? Aren't you hot? Don't you mind being stared at? How does it feel to know fully half of this public sand is garbage and cigarette butts? And the biggest one of all, don't you wish you had your own beach like I do?

But the boys tell me those questions are really rude and ignorant and God, why don't you have a filter any more, Bridget?

Oh, that old thing? I burned it with Cole.

I haven't needed it since. Those who can't handle me don't stick around.

Right, Lochlan?

Exactly, Bridget.

After lunch I stood holding my fork, staring at it with every ounce of concentration I could muster, failing to notice Sam watching me.

Jake's not going to bend this one, sorry, Princess.

Maybe I can do it.

No, those times he actually was doing it and made you think you were. He fancied himself a magician too, you know.

I smiled in spite of myself. He did. It was very sweet to watch his simple illusions because they were never done for money or for food. They never paid our way or made the news. They were just sweet. That's all. Sweet and really badly done, honestly.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The scars don't write a song for me at all.

I am a stone, unaffected
Rain Hell down onto me
Flesh and bone, unaffected
Your fool I will not be
I got to spend the morning recording with Ben downstairs. I brought my violin and my harmony and we recorded a perfect cover of Demon Hunter's I Am A Stone. We even went back and sang revolutions of the chorus at the end to change it up. We made it our own, but more importantly, we made PJ cry. He got the first listen. He mopped his eyes afterward with his beard and asked if he could have a copy. He said his favorite part was when I did the chorus after the bridge alone, ambitiously a cappella.

It should have been when Ben sang the bridge alone. That's MY favorite part but really I'm just happy he could tweak the headphones in order for me to hear myself, to sing on key instead of somewhere above it in a guess. I mean, everyone hates the sound of their own voice but I'm just happy to hear mine once in a blue moon.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Truthers in arms.

I feel like it's not a question of if you'll come back to me but when. 

His voice is sure but soft and far too quiet to hear over the roar of the surf. The tide is coming in and we should go. It's slow here on the west coast. On the east we had around eight minutes, less on the Bay. Super tides. Super feels.

Super weird.

Maybe. Maybe someday when things get quiet. 

It's a massive relief to not be outright denied. 

Is it though? What's the difference?

Hope is the difference. Don't you ever listen during Sam's sermons?

I sleep, mostly. 

Hope is what drives men, Bridget. 

And women. 

Oh? What do you hope for?

Literal peace of mind. 

I could give you anything you want but you resist. I'm not out to harm you, I'm trying to make things better. 

Every time I try to trust you on that something bad happens. 

Bridget, the watch was an unforgivable mistake and I'm just glad you're okay. 

Sorry about your face. 

Had it been me in Lochlan's shoes I would have exacted a far greater punishment. 

Like what?

I would have killed him for hurting you. 

That's why you can't be in his shoes. You're not safe.

Give me a chance to show you, Neamhchiontach. 

You've had too many chances already. I asked for a break and I still want it. 

All that will do is cement his place and put me out in the col-

As it should. You decided a long time ago what kind of relationship we would have and I'm trying so hard to make good changes in my life and straighten out everything that's bent and this doesn't help. 

I'm proud of you for the work you've done, even when it would be easier to give in, so you have to understand. I can't give in either. You're it. You're everything. I can't walk away from you. And I won't. 

Then we'll remain at an impass, because it's going to be decades before I come back to you. 

What do you mean.?

If I kill him too then I'll come back. But that will be the only way. 

You're not responsible for their deaths-

Then I hope you have a plan B, because if you're right I'm gone. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Call it a low point, or just call it Tuesday.

Some days are worse than others. Few are as bad as yesterday, and yet, as the old Irish Proverb goes I hope my best days are the worst I ever have. 

I always pause at that thought, as if I've maybe got it wrong and then I work it through and think Huh. Yeah. I hope so too. 

I forgot, thanks to whatever drugs they gave me until I was loading the washing machine this afternoon and everything smelled like chlorine. Two full extra loads thanks to seven outfits. Six people jumped in to the pool while one probably would have sufficed, as it wasn't all that deep and I already pointed out that I am a champion toddler-level swimmer anyway so there was no danger but it wasn't the pool that served to be the scary part, it was the fact that I was drowning in feelings. 


When am I not? 

I swear to you when I was designed God took a massive detour from Human Girl plans, dialing back the hearing while he dialed up the emotions. As if the lack of one explains the other. 

Maybe it does. I can't hear you but I can feel you and yet I don't have the capacity to hold your emotions, somehow. My own feelings are too big as it is, sorry. Mine are huge. I'm superhuman and yet I'm subhuman because I can't function at the level that everyone else does, at the level I'm supposed to. 

Lochlan grins at my sleepy, drugged out face this morning. You're fine. Things just sometimes get overwhelming. I just didn't see this coming. 

You need a wife that's not defective. 

No, just one that doesn't toss out ridiculous, unfair suggestions like that one, just now. Who I need is who I got. And I love you. And it will get better. 

What if it gets worse?

We already had worse, Bridget. And someday, someday soon, I swear to you, the best day we ever have will be the worst one we remember. 

That's not how the proverb goes. 

It is now. I just changed it. 

You can do that? 

Like I said, I just did. We need to sober you up. You don't listen. And he laughed very gently, and kissed me on the tip of my nose and then I don't remember what happened after that because I fell asleep again. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

One for death and one for habit. One for Bridge, run like a rabbit.

The marks from Caleb's Breitling have faded, on me and on him. I think Lochlan's eroded them with his hands until my skin wore smooth once again. He brought it up last night and it set my brain off from where it's been so quiet, and then Caleb pushed a few more buttons in an effort to find his way back in.

He's already here inside my head, his words conjuring that other ache to bloom huge, obstructing everything with a shadow larger than my heart. One holding my soul captive. One keeping my brain broken.

Neamhchiontach. I miss you so. I want to hold you. I don't sleep without you. 

It's true. He always said his best vacations were in Las Vegas, because I would be with him and he slept like the dead. It used to be a flippant remark and now it just makes me wonder if Jake, if Cole is very well-rested now, as a ghost. If ghosts sleep hard and sleep in. If I could maybe stay asleep someday, instead of waking up at an errant breath or every invisible noise around.

Considering I can't hear much of anything, it's ironic and ridiculous.

And Caleb knew he was touching off the part of my head that goes running flat out toward him, the part that invokes the worst of the Stockholm Syndrome. The part that loves him. And because he is the monster, I'm safe. I'm safe and I'm loved and I'm kept from every last little stress and he won't hurt me (much) anymore. He's toughened me into a resilient fight-backer. A warrior. A suitable partner.

The thought sent me running when I couldn't take the noise, the ache, the feelings anymore. They said get away from them. They said don't wait.

Outside into the dark of night, across the lawn and I threw myself in the pool, pajamas and everything. Drown the thoughts, smother the feelings, turn them off, turn everything off, MAKE IT GO AWAY only there suddenly six people there, in the pool, bringing me up, pulling me out, shouting to each other, shouting to me but it's like sound underwater, choppy, muffled, unintelligible and then there he is standing nearby watching everything and he knows, and he's pleased and he turns away and walks off into the dark until it swallows him whole.

And he waits there for me.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

"Can you get me across the ocean?" "No, but I know a guy." (Translation: GUESS WHO CAN SWIM?)

I got a hand on the head during the sermon this morning as Sam talked about learning to swim through the fear, how God will always be close when you feel like you're in over your head. He gave my noggin a quick squeeze and moved along and finally we could come home. My stomach growled the whole time and I was scared to death someone would hear it, especially in the brief silences while rising for hymns and introducing the collection plates. Schuyler burst out laughing more than once while we sang and imitated me the whole way home in the truck with high-pitched squealing almost-words like I'mmmmmmm HHHUUUNNNGRY! Feeed Meeeeeeeee!

I'm never riding with them again.

I'll wait for Sam, who didn't notice I was hungry but told me I was pale when he finally got home and that an hour after lunch I would have my swimming test.


Your swimming test. It's time. You've worked hard all summer, practicing and such and it's time to graduate. 


Is it not a good day? 

Are you KIDDING? It's the best day! See you at two! 

Wonderful. I'll warn you, it will be challenging. 

I'm not worried. God will be close. 

He winked. I thought you were sleeping through that. 

I had my head down and my arms wrapped around myself for much of his service. No, I was trying to muffle the sounds of my stomach growling.

Ah. That explains a lot of the laughing going on. See you at two. 

At ten to two I was studying hard, practicing my strokes. At two I was tired. At ten after two he finally comes out to the pool and I am already done, collapsed into a chair. He has a big box with him.

What's in the box? I whisper-scream in my best imitation of Brad Pitt in Se7en.

Your graduation gift. If you pass. 

Eeeeee! I dive in to the pool and surface to wait for instruction. He wasn't kidding. Forty minutes later I am so done I can't lift my arms anymore and I want to cry but instead I start talking to God. God help me, I ask out loud.  I can't float any more. God, I'm so fucking tired. Could you take this one so I can sit it out? And Goddamn it, I don't think I care if I pass anymore, I need to sleep for a little while. Let's try again tomorrow, okay, God?

Sam is laughing as much as Schuyler was this morning and when I finally haul myself up the ladder we have an audience. Everyone claps and Ben wraps a towel around me as I pass him to throw myself on a chaise. I close my eyes and pretend to sleep.

Sam places the box on the deck beside the chaise and I open my eyes, squinting at him. Did I pass? 

Open the box. 

Please tell me it's a head. That would be cool. 

It's not a head. Sorry. Body parts that people would miss are hard to come by. 

What about parts they wouldn't miss. What would those be?

I have no idea. And yes, you passed. Easily, Bridget. Open the box. 

I sit up and open the box. It's a delicately intricate stained glass mermaid panel. She has a blonde chin-length bob and a freakishly small head. So I got a cool thing after all. She's already hanging up in the skinny window beside the kitchen hallway leading out to the backyard. The window that I complained needed something stained-glass, something custom, for the past six years at least.

Oh my God. It's ME! 

It's you. You're a full-fledged mermaid now. 

Guess I don't need God anymore, huh! 

You still need him. Trust me. That was just the first few levels. Now you can swim as well as any ten-year-old. Next summer we'll continue on to the teen program and see how you do. 

Way to rip away that confidence boost, Baby Preacher. 

Way to pretend you could get out of church any time soon, Goofball. 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

I woke up this morning clasped against Ben, my face tucked in underneath his jaw, his arms tight around me. Not the usual way, as he sleeps flat on his back like a vampire unless he wakes up and drifts off again holding one of us. It felt good. I didn't want to get up and I drifted back off until ten or so when he squeezed me very gently and suggested we go out for breakfast, but first he has business to attend to. He turned me flat on my back and bent his head down, looping my knees up over his shoulders, bringing his hands back up to hold my wrists tight. He wasn't happy until I was screaming into his pillow and trying to pull away. Then he came back up and smiled at me and said that only made him more hungry, that there isn't much of me to eat, not enough meat on my thin bones, and that maybe we should get moving and head out before it becomes lunchtime.

That can't happen. I love going out for breakfast so I jumped up and he followed me into the shower where we actually didn't get sidetracked for once. He promised we could get sidetracked later and we were out the door by eleven and back home by one-thirty.

Sometimes I really miss him. When he's not around or he takes a backseat. Sometimes I wish he hadn't let me go so easily and sometimes I'm glad he forgets that he did.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Grasping at flaws.

Batman finally caught up with the wild redhead, whose ego was leading him around by a leash, who didn't care for any words of patience or thought, not right now, thank you.

He got a solid fifty-minute lecture, emerging pale and stubborn, much the way he would look after emerging from the office at the midway where he would apply over and over for one of the head/titled jobs, year after year, only to be told he was too young.

Nothing says maturity like kicking the doorjamb on your way out of a meeting with your boss. But unlike the old days when he would leave big black bootprints eliciting a threat or a curse in response, today he closed the door gently behind him and walked over to where I waited for my own lecture, which I've already decided to skip because it's sunny and it's a drag.


Batman is in the doorway, waiting, sleeves rolled up as if he is performing surgery instead of teaching discipline.

This could be so easy. Lochlan only works for money. Pay him to keep Caleb safe and happy and the point would be more peaceful than a graveyard. He wouldn't discriminate for a dollar.

It's too nice to be harsh. Let's go for a walk instead. I smile at him. He recognizes the charm of the hustle and frowns.

You too need to stop living in a Bon Jovi song and start taking responsibility for your actions.

Which action did I miss? I'm still smiling though it's just for the show now. This isn't the first time we've been accused of this.

Not you so much as him. We're getting a little too old for fist fights and stealing girlfriends and life-changing stunts to show possession.

Then talk to Cale. He's the one with the issue. He's the one throwing punches.

You're baiting him.

He's earned it! Loch sputters.


I get it. He's no match for my strength OR my wit. I get that you're all just trying to keep the peace. I promise I will try to behave. He performs a deep bow and Batman frowns.

It makes things better for the entire Collective-

I'm aware of that. But when the history goes back too far for the eye to see, you have to understand-

I understand you got the girl. Let that be enough. For today- 

Oh, just for today? I can handle that. What is it, noon already? 

Christ, Lochlan-

Walk a mile, Brother. No one understands what we went through to be together. No one ever will. Not even him. She is the first victory of my life. Goddamn all to hell whomever fails to let me savor this.

Thursday, 8 September 2016


Ironically the same week the kids start grades 12 and 10 and I see the home stretch ahead of me, Lochlan levels the field by setting off a bomb. I never saw it coming, he now swears it's No Big Deal.

Ha. It is, though.

We should have another baby.

You should get that Tourette's fixed. The things you blurt out. 

It was just an idea.

I don't think it was a good one.

Why? Indulge me.

Oh, I'm forty-five. You're really old. Like you'd be sending them off to college when you're SEVENTY. I also had four amazing difficult pregnancies and two deliveries that required entire floor teams of surgeons, lawyers and exorcists. I can't do that again, even if I could physically do it which I probably can't. Besides, I love the freedom of jumping in the car and telling them we're going out for a meal and they can cook at home if they're hungry before we get back. Why on earth would you want to do that all again?

I missed out, Bridge.

You were right here.

Jacob was in the way. Cole was in the way. I faded into the woodwork.

We don't give you enough attention. I get it.

He laughs. Yeah, that must be it. 

That will change now. Want me to blend your breakfast so I can feed it to you? 

What? No. Gross! 

Exactly. Now imagine that coming out both ends at once. Trust me, you're getting the best parts of raising children right now: they can tell you dirty jokes without apologizing first and they finally offer to drive now when we go out.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

'War does not determine who is right - only who is left'. -Bertrand Russell.

Today didn't happen.

Caleb stayed clear until he thought he could get himself under control but he failed and showed up inside the kitchen without warning after Dalton took the kids to school. He shoved Duncan into the glass door to the foyer with warning, breaking it and then charged across the room at Lochlan, who was sitting by the fire reading on his ipad, drinking tea. Loch got up in a hurry as Caleb lunged for him only Sam threw himself in between, because Sam is bigger than Lochlan and didn't want to see an unfair fight.

Sam doesn't know any better but should have. He's seen enough of this to understand you let them go. They love each other too much to exact full pain, they hate each other enough to try anyway so everyone steps back.

Sam didn't, reflexively. He left himself unprotected in the process and bore the full brunt of Caleb's epic elbow to his head that sent us to the emergency room. I don't fuck with head injuries and so after a good twelve hour stint at the hospital we came home. Caleb drove. By ten p.m. there was an extra two grand in the house cash account for the door, the ipad, the coffee maker, the fireplace screen and the cushions that were covered in tea, and a text offer for full salary if Sam needs to take a few days from working.

Lochlan went over after that to 'thank' Caleb for his efforts in disrupting a perfect Utopia and they took down another door and put a hole in the hallway wall. I sent back five hundred and asked if they can just avoid each other instead of all this shit. They both said no. I give up. Caleb has no right to act this way. Lochlan has no need to push his buttons so hard either.

They both told me to stay out of it so I'm sticking with Sam for the night so I can make sure he stays up for a while yet and doesn't have any lingering effects. He's okay. Thank God.

I texted them once I was settled in Sam's room.

What if it had been Henry? 

No response. From either.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Old flames.

The days are long it's like I'm holding on
To the second hand dragging me along
The feeling's wrong but there ain't nothing gone
Baby come back home

I know you want to run away

I know you want to run away

I know you want to run away
Because something this good ain't meant to stay
But any way you cut it I'm built to last
So not so fast

I know we've had better days
But something this good you don't throw away
But any way you cut it I'm built to last
So not so fast
We timed it perfectly and as the last notes of the song faded I took a shuddering breath and blew out the flame, leaving us all in close darkness.

We dressed quickly in the dark as he clapped. A slow, singular noise echoing back from the walls, hyperfocused without the light and the loud music and the visuals we have honed down to a sharp science.


I started to smile at Caleb and was about to ask what he really thought when Lochlan took my hand.

Thanks for joining us. Same words as always but he doesn't take his eyes off me, even as he's not addressing me. He kisses my hand and we're gone, but not before I register a look of pure surprise mixed with rage wash across Caleb's face.

He follows us out to the top of the steps.

The hell?

I told you. She's mine. You don't LISTEN.

Loch pulls me along, out into the rain. I'm as surprised as Caleb. I've been worked into an absolute frenzy, sated in plain view (well, virtual darkness save for that flame that we smothered and resurrected all over each other for over an hour) and worked into a frenzy again. I'm ruined, keyed and stunned. I'm singed and sparked. Loch is smug and businesslike. He planned it like this all along. A show to tease and torture ending in one giant Fuck You.

Well, I mean he fucked me but it was a big Fuck You to Caleb, forced to sit and endure a spectacle he assumed he would be participating in eventually.

Oh my God, Lochlan's better at this than I thought. He's waited for this, he's planned for it for decades. He knows exactly what he wants from Caleb. Everything Caleb has ever dished out but tenfold. Every moment of pain or jealousy or longing magnified by the time it took, adjusted for inflation, drawn out in searing blows, one after another. I can hardly catch my breath, I can't even imagine how Caleb feels right now.

I turn and look at Lochlan in the dark, water dripping off the rim of his top hat, eyes flashing, skin warm, breath held just like mine, easily, exchanged from hand to hand as he takes control of damn near everything at last, using a skill set few ever believed in but virtually no one could explain. Well, I know how he does his tricks, I know all the illusions and how they work and I also know he isn't finished yet. Not by a long shot.

You were always too smart for me, Neamhchiontach. 

He took that back too, that name, but I shake my head. No, I guess I'm not innocent, or I would have seen this coming. I thought the night would end a different way entirely.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Silver tongues and transparencies.

La breithe sona duit, le mo ghra go deo.

(Rusty as fuck.)

This morning at four I went and fetched the champagne and the scotch too and brought them back to bed. By eight the champagne was everywhere and the scotch was mostly gone and Lochlan and I were both birthday drunk, sticky and worn the fuck out.

All birthdays should start like that, I think. 

He is fifty-one today. 

We showered and put on jeans and sweaters and took the rest of the scotch and a breakfast picnic down to the dock, sitting with our legs dangling over the side, sharing a thermos of coffee, toast wrapped in foil, oranges and then the rest of the bottle of scotch, passed back and forth until Lochlan tipped the remaining few drops down his throat with a flourish. 

I stood up and made my speech to him. I do it privately now, for it's easier and somehow less and more raw all at once this way, and I can say everything I want to say without any pressure, without any worries that anyone will have hurt feelings or surprise news. 

When I sat back down his eyes were swimming in tears. Half of that is just being drunk at nine in the morning and the other half is a blindside of emotion. 

I did so good with you, Neamhchiontach. So good. He shakes his head in disbelief. He doesn't mean he raised me well, though he really did, he means he is happy I'm his wife, that we're still together. That we picked each other and we kept each other and we persevered and here we are. 

You know how people say life flies past in the blink of an eye? That it's so fast? It isn't. It took forever to get here. 

But here we are. 

Happy Birthday, Locket. 

Thank you, Peanut. I have everything. 

There are still presents, but not until after dinner. 

Speaking of which, you up for a show tonight? 

I choke and inhale the Scotch. Great. Now I'm going to die. 

When I'm done coughing and he's gently pounded me on the back until I can breathe again, I ask for who? Not like I'm going to perform a show for everyone. We're not a family friendly act unless we're busking. I know exactly which show he means but for who is a mystery. Maybe Ben. Yeah, he probably wants to pull out all the stops at last and show Ben how we managed. Where the money came from that we didn't steal. Where the reputation came from when we didn't lie. 


I choke again but this time I let myself die. When I recover he takes the bottle and laughs. No more for you. You can't control a thing about your feelings. Jesus. I didn't realize the extent.

There's none left anyway. And we did a show for him once already. 

A full show, Neamhchiontach. 

No use calling me that if we're doing the whole thing for him.

I know. 

What have you done? Did you sell us out to him? 

No, Bridge. I felt sorry for the guy. So I said we'd give him the full show. My gift to him on such a generous day. We head over at nineish, after the party. Once we're ready. He's coming here around five. 

That is generous. 

He's got nothing left. We can at least entertain him. 

But Lochlan always had a masterful poker face, and I know he's holding all his cards close. I don't know what I'm walking into and I'm no longer looking forward to an event I practically live for, cake and speeches, dinner and celebrations. Now I'm dreading the evening ahead, and no one will tell me why. 

Relax, Peanut. We're going to have fun. We should keep our skills up anyway. Tonight's the perfect chance. And he smiles like everything is so wonderful, only I can see so far right through him, it's as if he isn't really even there. 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

I hate it when he comes back.

I don't know what Lochlan's up to either but he's a grifter by trade so I don't question him, I just watch and learn and maybe someday I'll understand better how he went here to there, eviscerating a hard list of Don't-Touches that featured Duncan at the top or thereabouts in favor of a night we can probably never speak of again but won't ever forget.

I don't know whether to pinch myself for the dreams or renounce the Collective and spend the remainder of my life in a convent atoning for these sins.

Bless me father, for I am wicked-good, I whisper to no one in particular. I stretch my arms out. They ache today, worse than yesterday. Ben. Ben really liked Lochlan's actions as retold by me and took it out on me from three this morning until about nine-thirty. To that end it was worth the confusion that remains. So worth it.

My phone buzzes softly and when I check it there's a message from Caleb. He's home. See me at four. No I missed you. No I'm disappointed in you. No hint of the carnage and chaos to come. He will be angry. I'm not sure I'm concerned, exactly. I'm too busy trying to figure out how Lochlan is conducting this orchestra. I'm waiting to hear the song.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

He just said "Last night I rode a poem", in an Elmer Fudd voice and I laughed until coffee came out my nose so now I have to tell you about it or you won't get the joke.

He came out almost directly behind me, leaning against the french door just outside in the tiny private side yard patio and watched as I sat in one of the chairs, wrapping the sheet more tightly around myself, a strapless dress made straight from his bed. I struggled to pull a cigarette out of the pack on the table and then lit it with the same hand as I held the sheet tightly twisted in my other fist.

My hands are trembling but he can't see that because it's dark save for the string of tiny vintage bulbs they left up from when this was Sam and Matt's place. Always on. The rain spits against the clear pergola cover. It's dry underneath. I take a drag and frown at my shaking hand, passing him the cigarette. As I exhale slowly I remember why I don't smoke.

As I exhale I remember why I don't do this.

Everything okay? The Lizard King speaks quietly as I stare at my hands still. I nod, turning my now-still hand back and forth to catch the light against my ring. Loch comes to the door and Duncan moves away, letting Loch out onto the patio.

It's late. We should go up. 

I nod again but make no move to get up, instead tightening the twist on the sheet. We were watching a movie and I had a drink. Then I had three. Then Loch said if I was going to get it out of my system tonight would be my best chance. The house is quiet, almost empty, the invitation is there. Duncan nods in his icy coolness, whatever disbelief he later admitted to well hidden in the beginning.

My fear of being outclassed disappeared quickly. We followed him downstairs as he turned on lights and once there he made no move to do anything, offering a late night snack instead. Olives. Cheese. Bread and some prosciutto. Ginger ale instead of whiskey to fade the buzz so there would be no mistake. No excuses.

No going back.

But I don't live with regrets and I get tired late at night so I made the first move and broke whatever ice held us paralyzed for too long, looking back at Loch who got closer as the night wore on. Making sure he was there. Making sure he didn't leave. Making sure he was a part of everything and somehow he's almost fine with anyone who doesn't wear the face of the devil. I get that and yet this doesn't make me better, it feeds the beast. It makes things worse but somehow it also took us right past the place where we flirt with danger and opened it right up so that it's no longer dangerous, it's done and somehow that's a better place to be.

Duncan holds the cigarette out and I take it even though I don't want it. I'm already getting a headache. My arms and legs ache. My whole body is exhausted. Then his easy voice cuts into the fatigue like butter.

Before you go, tell me something. Would you do it again? 

I shoot a look at Lochlan. Duncan reminds him that he's not offering a regular thing, but he wants to know if I liked it. He's curious. He wants my approval. Everyone always wants my approval but this is the last thing I expect from the coolest person I know, the one who comes into the room like a God and if he says hello it's like he's doing you a favor and you instantly feel the flush of being popular, like him. And he's asking me if he was good.

Seriously, Bridget. Tell me. 

Oh, here comes the flush. I let him off the hook, rewarding him with a look in the eye the way I rewarded him earlier with a bite against his shoulder, my arms around his back as he pulled me up against him so hard I saw stars and we weren't even outside like we are now.

I'd come back in a heartbeat, Poet. And I might. If Loch is up for it. Loch is noncommital and always afraid I'll bond too closely with those I've already bonded with for life. He gets to choose, and like I said, he's having fun sticking it to Caleb while he keeps me a little bit sick. But Duncan did this on his terms, refusing to come upstairs, instead asking us downstairs. To his world. It was a power play I didn't expect but one I instantly appreciated and respected. He really surprised me, further when I had my own curiosities fulfilled in that he is just as good as I thought he would be. Maybe better.

Definitely better.

But I'm still curious. Your turn, I tell him. Would you? I expected him to refuse, telling me I'm too much trouble, too heavy. Too small. Too crazy. Too risky. Too much. 

Hell, yes. Lochlan's faith in you is clear to me now. Caleb's obsession is completely understandable. But at the same time I feel like the elephant in the room is gone now that I'm on the other side, so to speak. I don't feel so anxious. 

You were anxious? 

Been working toward this or something like it for years, Poem. 

Then you caught Lochlan on a good night. He's using you to twist Caleb's screws tight. You have to be okay with that. 

I am. Not like I didn't get a lot out of it. Jesus, you're sweet. 

It's a myth. In the daylight, you'll see. 

I've seen you in the light. Doesn't change my mind. 

It will tomorrow. Like you said, you're on the other side now. 

I'll prove you wrong. Go get some sleep. Or stay here and sleep. 

We'll go. Loch steps back to my side and holds his hand out. Time to turn back into a pumpkin. I take the proffered hand and he pulls mine up to kiss the back of it, holding it against his lips. See you tomorrow, Brother. He squeezes Duncan's shoulder with his free hand and Duncan pulls him close for a quick hug.

Tomorrow, Brother. Thanks for the evening. 

And we're gone. And this morning when I woke up it wasn't a dream. It was real and my legs still ache but at least my mind is quiet. Lochlan is mildly agitated and takes forever to come down but me, I'm on a high that won't quit. This is what I live for. This is what I came for. This is what the Collective means. A way to bounce around inside and outside of my head with safe danger everywhere. Danger I can reach out and touch only to find it isn't dangerous at all. At least most of it.

Friday, 2 September 2016

A household equinox.

Summer is officially over.

The sun is setting earlier. We're in sweaters suddenly, abruptly as if someone flicked a switch. Pumpkin spice? Sure, I don't care, as long as it's hot. The garden is winding down in a big way with the only thing left being the last few ripening tomatoes, a few cucumbers, two giant pumpkins and a single soon-to-open sunflower, after months of bounty. It fed us for a couple of months and I consider it a resounding success, in that we finally after last years' false start, were able to figure out how to grow radishes and corn and also way more vegetables from seeds than from seedlings. I'm seven times as proud as usual and plan to branch out with even more next year. The only thing that didn't grow at all was the lettuce but even when I could grow it it bolted too fast to be used up and wasn't even that good, honestly.

The corn on the other hand? We've never had better.

I may never run out of basil, either. Of that I'm reasonably sure.

Four days of solid rain out of the past five have made the grass green again and the evenings darker than they should be for this time of year. I'm anxious to put out the Halloween decorations and have a fire going all the time. I'm excited for Thanksgiving and for Christmas too, and yet it seems like there should have been a few lingering weeks of hot weather and light nights after school starts that won't be there. School starts next week. Already. Suddenly I'm a 'Grad Parent' and also the mother of a newly-minted senior high student. They don't need wardrobes, only a few things. They don't want school supplies (rolling their eyes), because the teachers don't care but they will need pens and paper and mechanical pencils and they've already been to school to select and lock their lockers and make sure their friends did the same, close by.

The summer didn't rush by this year. It's a first. It meted itself out evenly, slowly. We did a lot. A lot of work. We had a lot of fun. We stayed up too late and went to bed too early sometimes. We swam constantly. We ate a lot of ice cream. We didn't try a single new restaurant, I don't think and I didn't care (I usually love to do that).

We had another wedding, though it was small and it wasn't here, per se. We rearranged life just a little and it worked out better than I could have imagined. I still struggle with a few things. I still fight the fight I've fought all along.

And now the final weekend is here before school starts. Ruth and Lochlan's big birthday weekend is starting up in earnest. The boys will come back (early) from Burning Man and we'll settle into a new and different routine for the coming season. Like we always do. I've been cooking and baking and decorating on the sly (one closet is FULL of balloons blown up and ready to be deployed) and the presents are bought and wrapped and both parties (one family, one friends) are planned for tomorrow and for Tuesday, of all days and I think we're ready. Bring it and bring everything else too.

I faltered a little, that's all. I'm okay now. Some days are tough but I'm tougher.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Never gonna happen.

I woke up to...everyone. Lochlan was wrapped around me. I put my hand out and touch Dalton who is in front of me. Duncan is beside him. Christian is sitting on the floor on the other side of Duncan, head back, dozing slightly. Sam is in one chair, head bowed as if in prayer but he's sleeping. Andrew is in the other, head on elbow. Ben and Daniel are on the couch asleep leaning on each other too and PJ is sitting on the far corner of the bed looking so pleased with himself. He leans in, wide awake.

Here's the army for you. I'm heading out. Taking the kids shopping. 

I nod because it's a fuzzy thought and I can't get it to focus quite completely but I sit up anyway and rub my eyes.

Loch sleeps on a trigger so he's up instantly. Hey. Did you sleep?

Like someone in a coma. Everyone is stirring. Did you all stay all night?

Dalton is up. No. We came in way early this morning so you would wake up surrounded. 

Jesus, this could only be better if we were all naked. 

I'm game, Ben laughs. He looks tired in a bad way though.

Sam chuckles quietly. Me too. 

Christian stands. This is where I make my exit. A chorus of hilarious protest goes up.  

Stay, I tell him.

You snore, Bridget. 

Please tell me it's a nice snore though. 

It's nice and loud, if that's what you want to hear. 

Lochlan smiles and kisses my cheek. Better this morning? 

I hope so, I tell him. I get up and pad across the room stepping over big feet and go into the bathroom. When I come out half an hour later, freshly showered and in my favorite robe, Lochlan is the only one left. All the curtains and blinds are open and the bed is made.

Your playa name is Circus Peanut and this is your theme camp, the theme being communal living. Here we demonstrate a working commune as run by ex-sideshow freaks. So far so good. We need to disperse the workload more evenly though. You had too much of a share and you crumbled a bit yesterday. 

I need a vacation. 

Then welcome to Point Perdition. It's a mini-burn, just for you. 

Do we have an orgy dome? 

Well, you cut right to the chase, don't you?

Maybe. Do we? 

We might. I'll show you later.