Tuesday, 27 June 2017

See you in a few days.

He's got that smile on his face. The one that says he has a surprise and I see him coming a mile away. Kids are finished school. 

Yes. Finally! 

We should take a little trip now that the dust has settled.

If we did where would we go? 

Back to Montauk. Maybe. If you're game.

Seriously? 

I might have booked our same little cottage for an early anniversary celebration. 

Who are we taking? 

Each other. 

Sold. 

You need to sort out the sunscreen thing first. 

Okay, a big floppy hat and a sweater. It worked last time. 

That it did. Better go pack. Plane leaves in four hours. 

What? Holy. Hold my plate. 


Take it with you and eat while you pack. We don't need to bring much. 

True. 

Bring a smile, Peanut. And that sweater. 

I can do that. 

You wanted a cold beach, I can give you a cold beach.

Monday, 26 June 2017

You'll know where to find me now.

(Yesterday was a big mistake, by the way. I did a metric ton of gardening early in the morning thinking I'd be safe and gave myself heatstroke and turned into a baby because of it. Things are much better after eight hours sleep. That's like a new record for me.)

Ben put up two extra six-by-sixes when no one was looking, down by the trees in the shade off the patio and strung up my beautiful hammock that I had nowhere to properly hang here. He knew I'd love it and I do. The pool area itself is now complete in phase two, with a wraparound outdoor kitchen with space for a bigger barbecue (that we don't have yet but measured for), a small fridge (whoops don't have that either), a wood burning firepit/cookout stove, and a shadier pool deck overall, with space above the pergola where I can drape my tapestries and make it look very neat. There is only one phase left to go and that's to augment the path to the pool from the house to string everything together, and landscape around the sauna and the back of the house a little better. I wanted to pave a path all the way to my house but that isn't a good idea if we want to keep the properties futureproof, to be sold separately when the time comes.

Unless we sell all three or even two houses as a package deal for searching communes. I mean, we could do that.

None of this is something we're planning either way, as we stay until Henry finishes university, so that's at least six years, maybe more. (Did I tell you I now have a university student and a student in grade eleven now? I didn't but I do and I'm so proud).

Then we'll see.

I love the hammock. And I love that today is cool enough to head out and enjoy it with my book and some lemonade and a whole pile of new sunscreen that sucks. Every single one I have tried is awful. They either give me rashes or sunburns. Christ. Any suggestions?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

HOTTER STILL.

Because I am a terrible human and furthermore very bad at life, Ben filled the soaker tub in our ensuite with ice water and put me in it early on. Lochlan brought me up a glass of champagne in the one beautiful blue glass flute I own (it was a set but they break so easily) and Ben winced slightly but cheers'd me and then sat on the floor beside the tub while I alternated between sipping my champagne quietly like a good princess and screaming because things were cold. Private things. Sensitive things.

I then got a warm shower for my promises of gold and riches to him, should he release me from this curse and we spent the day again inside, as he has paid his dues on the latest home improvement project and decided it was time for Jay and Keith to pay theirs.

Lochlan came back after supervising the completion of said task (I'll see it tomorrow) with a sunburn and a cold light beer which made him wince after every sip. I ran out of champagne but wasn't given any more and I fell asleep while they watched a movie. The ceiling fan went around and around and eventually I woke up and the sun had moved all the way around to the other side of the room and was almost over and the room was empty, save for me and I didn't mind a bit, I swear.

Tomorrow it's supposed to be a full ten degrees cooler and then I will feel like myself. I hope.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

HOT.

It's thirty-seven degrees in the sun and they're working on building a second outdoor shower and a pergola that extends over part of the pool deck. I don't know if pouring concrete at that temperature is any different than wading in the lava of an active volcano but they seem happy enough to plant six-by-six posts so deep into the ground they're never ever going to move and fire up the table saw so many times I began to hate the noise and went downstairs to watch movies with Dalton.

I ran out of pool time anyway and lazing about in the shade trying to breathe in that liquid hot exhaust wasn't that pleasant. I'm a spring and fall girl. I like my water warm and my sand cold. I like jeans on the beach and sweaters on the boat and I hate being warm.

I couldn't even stand to keep on earrings. I'm down to a t-shirt and short thin cotton shorts. No bra, no underwear. No plans to be in mixed company as we're having ice cubes for dinner and at some point if the temperature drops down to reasonable I'll come back upstairs and go to bed.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Filthy souls.

The rules are plentiful. Jay will take back his old room, his old space in Batman's garage, his old life but working for Sam, working for the church. Batman will keep a closer eye on him, as will Asher, Lochlan, PJ and Ben. Ben's going to sponsor him if he still turns out to need it (FUUUUCK) and we're getting him some hardcore health counselling because he still plays fast and loose with his disease and he can't afford to. He's going to get his health under control so he doesn't die. I'm not sure if he's trying to or what here and it hurts.

He is stiff and reluctant and ashamed.

Why do you care? He had the nerve to ask Ben and Ben pointed out that he's family, we look after each other. Jay choked up and hugged him hard and Ben asked him why he didn't ask for help.

I thought it would be better if I just left. 

Ben nods. You'll need to talk to him. 

Schuyler. One of the few adamant about not having New-Jake come back, more as a nod towards being better safe than sorry, as always. Schuyler doesn't walk the talk, he's just very protective of me and I always appreciated that. His boundaries are ironclad, his values carved in the rock at our feet. He's big on love but he doubled down on Jay because after seven years, poor Jay is still the new guy and that's not going to change, ever.

There's always a new Jake. Always a guy coming in to my life in bare feet with an easy smile and a past a mile wide. Always an unexplainable draw that I drown in the sea on a daily basis because I'm trying to do right by Schuyler and own up to my boundaries.

I usually mess up and drown the boundaries and enforce the cravings, Batman tells me but it's not like he's objective, either.

Schuyler tried to put me first and while I appreciate the sentiment, I have a great support network. Jay didn't, where he went. He does again now though.

Welcome home, Jay. This time don't fuck it up.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Home.

What's new, Bridge? 

Jay is a mess. He covered well and yet here he is, the perennial project boy, back for a complete teardown and redo. Except this time we're not going to flip him and send him back out into the world. No, this time we're keeping him. 

And his bike, because it's beautiful too. 

I changed my last name. 

To what? 

I frown at him. Weirdo. Loch's. 

Oh. Yeah, I suppose. Caleb like that? He laughs. 

He was against it. He's adjusting now. 

Don't let him be your drummer, baby. 

Let's talk about you. Because I didn't want to deal with this on the phone. 

How much free time do you have and how much are you willing to hear? 

I should make some tea? 

And maybe have Sam on standby. 

I can do that. 

Can I help? 

Of course. You're part of the family. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Reintroductions.

The best laid plans never happen.

It was after the actual solstice, after darkness fell and the sun went to bed that we went out and had a simple swim in only our birthday suits. Just Lochlan and I as everyone else wound up thankfully preoccupied with their hurt feelings and tense disregard after a brutal family meeting in which nothing was resolved whatsoever. It happens and when it does the best course of action is to leave it before we make things worse, walk away and come back when a little time and cooler heads prevail.

New-Jake is coming back. Hereafter to be known as Jay, because I can't get that k sound to come out when I say it out loud, still.

Lochlan puts his arms around me, holding me up and in from the cold water.

I don't want him to come back but I was him once and I believe in fresh starts, second chances and all that mumbo-jumbo but so help me, Peanut, if you get too close I'm drowning him.

I nod. My boundaries are well established exploited. We'll be fine.

We go back to the side of the pool where our champagne awaits.

To summer, Lochlan says, raising his glass.

To summer. I nod and drink half of it. The bubbles go up my nose along with a good amount of chlorinated water and I cough briefly. It's enough for Lochlan to decide that we should go in now, that it's late even though I had a perfectly timed coffee earlier and I bit my tongue through the whole meeting and now I'm wound up tight like a spring and need to unwind. He wraps himself in a towel and goes around the pool blowing out the candles we lit. Then he stands waiting.

I don't want to go in yet, Locket.

Why, Baby? 

This is nice. 

What if we went in and had a hot bath? 

I stare at him while I push off repeatedly from the side without letting go. It feels nice on my very very sore elbow. I stare at him until I realize he's not the bad guy here, that he is the one who recalled New Jake even though he was the last one to become friends with him, and he was the one who defended him when everyone else said to leave well enough alone. It was those words that changed an entire army's direction.

The Collective saved my life once. The least I can do is pass it on. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Two lights and a super-heavy.

Summer solstice is tonight! I'm so excited! We have big plans but I won't share them today. Tomorrow I'll tell you all about it if I ever get up after being up very late. I complain when Lochlan infantilizes me but at the same time anything scheduled after nine at night has me aghast that people actually are gearing up just as I'm usually checking out.

Not like I don't check out at eleven in the morning or two-thirty in the afternoon if I stop moving, I know. But we have Large Plans and I'm very much looking forward to it.

In other news the lipstick wars continue. Ben said enough was enough and went and put some on, and proceeded to walk around the house hugging everyone, and then planting a huge surprise kiss on their cheeks and it took forever for them to notice. It was mostly hilarious though Henry didn't like it much and Ruth went running, screaming that she just washed her face and didn't want to get anything on it. Then she laughed and got kissed anyway. She doesn't mind Ben's antics. No one does. He's dodged another tour bullet and picked up another producing gig which if I'm correct in my hunches are being funnelled directly through Schuyler but that's okay. Our network is super-tight anyway. They all work for each other half the time anyway.

Case in point, Asher took a vacation this week. A last-minute week-long getaway, Batman said. Not far, he said.

How far? I asked suspiciously, eyes narrowed.

Ontario. Batman is vague.

Toronto?

Yes, I believe, he lies.

What's wrong with Jake? The panic is approaching me like a stormfront. I see it but I can't run.

He had a little setback. He'll be fine. 

He's not fine. He's a diabetic-

Bridget, Asher will let me know what's going on as soon as he gets to Jake. 

So it's enough of an emergency to send your assistant but not enough to tell his friends that he's in trouble. 

Wait until I have word. Batman's so done with my panic.

Fuck that, I tell him. I pick up my phone to call the Devil. He can get me a plane.

Batman takes the phone and hangs it up, putting it in his pocket. I turn to go and he grabs my arm and my elbow pops right out of location and I'm on my knees.

It hurt so bad I couldn't speak and so he tries to haul me back up to my feet because he had no idea what was wrong. Mercifully, my body knew what was up and blacked me out.

When I opened my eyes I screamed because the pain was still going. PJ leaned over my face. Lochlan too.

My elbow's out DON'T TOUCH IT. 

So PJ tells me to count to three and Lochlan holds on tight and before we even start one they nod and pop it back into place with a thud that almost kills me. I roll into a ball. So sore. Oh my God. I need to go to the airport, I tell Lochlan. He's already talking to Batman and I know he's going to compartmentalize his anger until he gets everything covered.

Bring him back here permanently. We'll sort him out. Then I'm going to sort YOU out.

Batman nods and goes to call Asher. Looks like the trip has doubled, as they'll have to pack up Jake's less than three months'-long life in the hot potato to return here permanently, a semi-pariah with a mad crush, a beautiful vintage Sunbeam motorcycle and a terrible knack for letting his blood sugar control him instead of the other way around.

We'll live with it. I don't care. Sometimes people belong here and they shouldn't leave, even if they have a magnificently rough start, like New-Jake has had.

Doesn't matter. He's meant to be here. He's one of us.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Not an ad but it they want to send me lipstick I'm all for it.

I bought a new lipstick over the weekend that I adore. It's by Bite Beauty and it's called Beetroot and while it looked terrible in Sephora and terrible on the swatch that I did on the back of my hand with the tester, I brought it home and it looks amazing on my face. It's a dark purpley-red and just makes my former black-lipstick-wearing self happy. I have a lot of reds, all blue-reds but this is dramatic and awesome. 

It also doesn't hurt that it comes off on everything I touch while somehow staying put on my lips. Sneeze? Left a print on the elbow of my sweater. Hair blew in my face? Now my blonde is purpley-red. Kissed a boy? Yup, ALL OVER EVERYONE. 

I won't even mention it's on almost every mug in the house. It's on my phone screen. On the fork in the sink and on Sam's shirt after he gave me a quick hug as he was leaving and I was too horrified to tell him but then he put on his blazer anyway so now I didn't have to. It's on the window beside the front door. It's on the Devil and it's on the dog. It's on Lochlan in more than half a dozen different places and he loves it (Shhhhh).

Jesus Christ, you can't take me anywhere, or better still, you can't leave me home.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Dip her in the water and she's good to go again.

Oof. Today was a whirlwind of church services, impromptu baptisms, Father's Day shenanigans, rain and charges met with hugs, because everyone's so busy trying to be the bigger man here sometimes they don't even realize how proud I am of all of them. Caleb made amends with everyone, somehow softened by my admission that he tried to send me home and somehow hastened by the glaring proof standing in front of them that oops, he gave me exactly what I wanted and they would have happily done the same.

Nice, isn't it?

I have thanked each and every one of them for being incredible surrogate-dads and sometimes-lovers and anyone I missed, hopeful or not, has been gracious enough to let me fall on my face. Sam tries to save my soul every chance he gets and Caleb holds it high in his hands, just out of reach. The ocean purified my body and my mind and Lochlan apologized profusely for sending me reeling out the door, unable to process how we can love each other and still fight like we mean it. He's the one who taught me to fight, taught me how to stand my ground, taught me if it's worth having, it's worth knowing when to stand up and when to let go, and he also taught me the power in forgiving those you love when they (and you) need it most.

Yes, in other words, he's still really fucking mad. But not as mad as he was when I left. So that's good.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

I thank you for the hole you dug in me
Filled it with cement, sunk me in your sea
Thank you for being so obscene
I thank you for never facing me
Swimming in the mud, never coming clean
I thank you for nothing in between
Yes, I thank you for leaving
It took him upwards of forty minutes to finish his work and by then I was fighting to stay awake, having given up on the drink he poured which burned down my throat, melting all the ice, leaving a ring on the table.

He sat down and pulled me into his lap. I put my head down on his shoulder as his arms went around me, closing my eyes, putting my hands up against his shirt. I felt his arms tighten as he stood up, bringing me with him and I locked my legs over his hips best I could. I thought maybe he would toss me on his bed so I could sleep and then he'd be able to play the hero, the safe place to fall. The good guy.

But no.

Instead after throwing me down on his bed he pulls my hands behind my back. It's a fight that is over quickly. He turns me over and smiles, yanking my dress up and my whole body down hard against him before pulling me up back into his lap, releasing my hands so I can hold on to him. He likes to set the tone early. He picks me up, the cold wall meeting my back as he pushes me against it, pinning me up with nothing to hold on to except for him. The way he likes it. The way I hate it because it hurts more than it helps.

Stop making noise. He orders.

I am silent.

Arms around my neck. Another order and I comply.

Don't cry. (Can't help this one.)

Don't push back. Relax your hips. (trying. Can't manage. It's a pain reaction and I can't talk myself out of it.)

Bite, Bridget. And I do, latching on to his flesh just at the hardest point of his shoulder where it won't do any damage. It's like biting concrete, teeth gnashing against gravestones. I could feel them grind and chip as I bit down hard agains the past. I want to swallow it whole but I have to chew it, choke it down as I remember who is boss.

I am.

I beg, they fulfill. Power begets those broken teeth and aching limbs, newly reinstated stranger-souls and the abject disappointment of an entire army as I bring back the lone dissenter and smile at them all with those broken teeth, a mouth full of marbles in a world where I've never had trouble being understood. I can't hear myself. They can hear me just fine.

Look at him, I cry. Look at him! I yell mutely, my muffled plea arousing a reaction as they look on with wild disinterest. They don't hear me though, they only see the fresh strangers, the light of change bearing down on them like a fossor with a newly sharpened shovel. I don't even feel it when it halves my skull. If I can't complain they can't either.

When the sun comes up around five, he wakes me gently. Go home and make up with your Pyro, he says, as if I am being sweetly discarded. He returns to his philanthropic state, his work here finished, his masterpiece a ruined mess with nary a mark. His self-control intact, his reputation solidified once again to be careful what I wish for, always. Everyone gets exactly what they want, even if they don't know exactly what that is.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Shoulders on offer.

The argument was pointless. Needless even and yet it's like it was a test. If you knew me you'd know that I'll always call your bluff. I'd rather be stubborn than wrong. I'd rather just let you feel like shit, frankly, and then you'd know not to say such awful things.

Go over then! I'm sure you'll get a warm welcome. Get those broad shoulders all to yourself. 

Fine. It'll be nice to have a night off from trying to live up to your perfectionism!

Actually it just means you fall one more day behind in achieving it! 

Good! I think I'll stay for two days and then you'll hardly be able to stand me! 

I can't NOW! The minute he said it the regret took over his whole face. Bridget! Peanut, come back. I didn't mean it. You get me all up in arms-

It's fine. I'll see you later. 

Stay here-

No, sorry. I'll be back later. I won't stay there. 

Don't go, Bridge. Please.

But I left. 

I knocked on the door. One low light on in the kitchen and I could hear music. 

He came to the door and unlocked it. His face lit up when he saw me. Bridget! Wait, what's wrong? 

I had a fight with Lochlan. 

Would you like me to call him and have him come over so you can work it out? 

I didn't expect that. No, we'll be okay. Tears leak out anyway because the whole thing makes me sad. 

You will. Come in and have a drink then. 

I don't want to interrupt your evening.

Give me ten minutes to finish up with the paperwork I had out (forever the lawyer) and then we'll talk.

Con arts.

Not gonna lie, I had a nice day by the pool today. It was breezy and sunshiney in an early-fall kind of way but the most striking thing was realizing, during an impromptu, trash-talking throwdown of a four-lap butterfly race, that Caleb's shoulders are at least a full third wider than Duncan's. But I wasn't looking, I swear.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Love you forever.

It's cold, isn't it, Bridge? You warm enough?

I nod. I'm wrapped in a blanket by the fireplace in our bedroom. Four of the smallest lanterns are lit and the fireplace is the only light besides. He's poured us some champagne but as per tradition they're in little jam jar-style cups because that was what we had for special occasions.

We clink the cups together. SlĂ inte. I smile and take a tiny sip. He drinks his in one go and pours another. Finally, you are mine. 

I was yours from the very start. 

Officially, I mean. 

The wedding doesn't count? 

Not really, no. 

I see. 

This is outward. Obvious. 

My tattoos don't count? 

No, Bridget. Like I said, this is the big one. The one I was waiting for. Hoping for even. It's like Christmas in June. 

Juneuary, you mean. I am cold. 

Jesus, why didn't you say something! He takes our full glasses and puts them on the hearth and pulls me in closer to him. Skin to skin. He is so warm I feel instantly feverish in proximity. I get a kiss that would melt steel and then he swears into my mouth, picking me up, dropping me down on my back on the floor, putting his weight on me as he whispers things I can't hear, as his hands travel over every inch of my skin, as he ends with my new name, as if no one has heard it before, nevermind the dozens of times he caught me talking to myself in the mirror, introducing myself at the tender age of ten as Bridget MacIntosh and he'd laugh and promise that I could, as soon as we can. And he'd smile like everything is right with the world. It mostly is as far as he is concerned and he doesn't seem to mind that his bride with the new name is dragging some larger than life ghosts and a demon or two behind her. He seems like he has room for everything.

Warm now? 

I nod again. Very warm now. Holy.

He pulls me back up to a sitting position after, tucking me in under his arm, pulling the blanket tight around us. The fire is too big and he lets it go down a bit. We've made our own warmth, made our own climate here. We finish our champagne. It's bad luck if you don't.

Ready for sleep?

I nod, staring at the flames. Don't pinch me. This moment is as perfect as a moment can be.

I love you. I blurt it out like it's an emergency. It is. My heart wants to explode right now and I don't think it's ever felt like this. It feels everything so deeply but not like this. Not. like. this.

I love you, Bridget, he says as he scoops me to my feet. He takes a minute and just stares at me with a smile. His hair is a soft loopy halo around his whole face. He's beautiful.  

I get one more kiss and then I'm out like a light. I didn't even wake up once.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Ambush hour. Fuck this rain.

I feel as if all of this espresso has finally eaten right through my stomach and everything that was inside it fell out through the hole and rolled away, save for this endless, gnawing fear. 

The fear that keeps me carrying around a Xanax in one tightly-rolled fist (not to be taken because maybe it's actually a Klonopin and I don't want one of those. They take too long.) The very same fear that finds me forgetting to breathe until I have a headache and then I don't want to do anything save for sleep. 

What is the fear of? Sam asks again. He always asks as if this is a fresh question or better yet, one that might have an answer. 

I shrug. 

Does August know?

I nod. 

Why do you think he knows and we don't? 

He is singular in his separation from the Collective. 

Does Lochlan know? 

I think he does but he won't admit it. 

Why not? 

Because if he says it out loud then it's true and I am crazy after all. 

And why wouldn't he say that out loud?

Because then there's a problem. 

But there is help for that problem. 

He would rather fun it away. 

I'm sorry?

Fun it away. Forget about it for now. Distract. Let it go. 

But?

But it doesn't go. I can push it under the water but it floats back up almost right away. 

Is there a time when it didn't come back up right away? 

Yes. 

Will you tell me when? 

When I'm in someone's arms. 

Someone specific? 

I cover my face. No. Well, maybe. Lochlan. But it goes away for August, Joel and Ben too. 

Joel. 

Yes, Joel. You want honest, here it is. It sucks, doesn't it? 

How does that make you feel?

You want to know why it doesn't go away for you. I can tell. 

If you want to share anything, go ahead, Bridget. 

I don't. This is your barometer. I didn't want to come in. 

It's raining. 

And so you thought it would be a good time to pick apart my mind? 

Doesn't hurt. 

Everything hurts, Sam. That's why we're here. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Mrs. Mac, for short.

When I woke up and looked out the window in the stairwell Matt and Sam were by the pool, drinking coffee and eating what appeared to be chocolate croissants, sharing a newspaper, smiling at each other as if everything is right with the world again.

Maybe it is, because for a brief moment I thought we had chocolate croissants in the house. We don't because Matt brought two. TWO.

Be right back. Heading out to flatten some tires.

***

Lochlan wasn't happy that Schuyler put himself in harms way. He wasn't happy that Caleb showed up again with a bone to pick. He wasn't happy about anything and he made the rounds before coming at last to me and he wasn't happy with me either, it seems, though I listened to his instructions and haven't gone near the Devil, who, incredibly enough is really fucking angry that I went ahead and changed my name after digging in my heels for the best part of a decade since and he thought he was safe.

Yeah, so did I, once.

In any case, nice to meet you. I'm now sporting a name that's synonymous with Scottish raincoats, English toffee, American computers and one really stupidly good-looking redhead and now I'm less Irish but more of a blend and that's okay. MacIntosh is a good solid name and he is very proud that I have it now. Very proud. Kind of ego-peacock-Lochlan proud which worries me and is getting a bit annoying but hey, I signed up for this. Literally. My new license arrived and there's no going back now.

And Caleb has the nerve to say this morning that I had his last name for over thirteen years (via my marriage to Cole) so Lochlan still has to beat that. I swear Caleb has a death wish sometimes. Only it's for me instead of himself. I hope I get a croissant before he crosses that line. I'm really hungry now.

Monday, 12 June 2017

This is what frenemies means, I think.

Ben came to collect me, sharing a long brotherly hug with both his brother and with Schuyler, who continues to suffer no fools and has taken up some sort of impenetrable fortress of one in front of me. 

I don't want to see anyone get hurt, is all Schuyler said by way of explanation. He's all for people having fun. He's had some of the most fun before he grew up and settled down. What he isn't for is watching someone get hurt at the expense of someone else's fun. 

It's complicated, I shrug. 

Don't defend your devils, he reminds me before he softens his rebuke with a smile and a wink. Besides, you were like having a small human-shaped hot water bottle in bed. I don't think I can do that again now that it's warm out. 

Daniel likes it. 

I got this. He winks again and I smile back. 

I know you do. 

Go home to your redhead. 

Yeah well, stop making him pull all-nighters fixing shit. 

Doing my best. He could have said no. 

Not for that sort of stipend. 

Well, I had to make sure it was worth leaving you for. 

Wow. I guess he has a price. 

That's not what I meant. 

I know, silly. 

He went because he knew you were safe. 

No one's going to hurt me, Schuy. You worry too much. 

They don't worry enough. 

Who are you worried about? 

There's a few. 

Name names. 

The obvious. 

Right. Who else? 

Let me worry about that. You just keep your childlike innocence going. It suits you. You love everybody, Bridget. And they all love you back. What could go wrong?

I looked back to see if he was joking with me, if he was smiling but his face was hard and grim before he checked it and smiled again. It didn't reach his eyes this time. And it didn't reach his eyes a few hours later when he had to knock Caleb on his ass after being charged just outside the front door. For fucks sakes. Ben took a turn collecting Schuyler this time instead of me, getting yet another hug though it was to hold him back. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Mind.

An eleventh-hour offering kept me from the hands of the Devil, instead given over the likes of Daniel and Schuyler, where I hung from the night by my fingertips until my arms ached and my shoulders went numb. My eyes bore witness to true love, uncensored and unabashed and my hands reached out to touch but were left cold, contact made with nothing but air, as if the dark were a mirage, an oasis in a daylight desert.

Reassurance blanketed me and I was warm. He wants to keep you safe, Bridge. He's just doing what's best. 

I nod and my eyes grow heavy from bearing witness for so long.

Sleep, Princess. We'll have you back safe and sound tomorrow. My lashes flutter closed, the last thing they see being Daniel's sweet face as he chose my right side for sentry while Schuyler chose my left. They made a Bridget-sandwich and no one went hungry except for my demon but I didn't know a thing about that until it was too late to fix it anyway.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

I'll be fine. He said he's tired.

I gave Caleb a gift today, landing in his lap on my way past him to find a towel. I'm soaked to the skin, fresh out of the pool, in a black bikini with fat string ties. It looks very wet-ro, he said, complimenting my vintage suit in an Elmer Fudd sort of lazy-voice. He's relaxed. He put his arms around me, ruining the crisp ironing lines of his shirt and smiled and I gave him a big fat kiss.

You should come in the pool with me. 

I'm tired, Neamhchiontach. 

I frown and he says he'll watch, that he'll stay here as long as I want to stay in. I remind him I only get an hour or less as it is and he vows to look into alternatives to the chlorine. I point behind us to the sea and he asks if I'd ever stay in it for an hour.

Sure,
I remind him. Anytime. 

What about whales? 

My face falls. Whales are freaking scary. Anything is, underneath you in the depths. They don't come in this close to shore. 

True. 

I need to go change. 

You feel good right here. 

Can I come back when I'm done? 

I'm heading inside. Come to the house. 

I look over at the last chair. Lochlan's book and his glasses are there but he has vanished.

Maybe for a nightcap.

For the night. 

No, Cale. 

Let's wait and see. Bring your joker. 

Where is he? 

Schuyler needed something. Come at eight? Both of you.

Okay. I trace his mouth as he smiles slightly. I can alone-

If you bring him you could stay. 

Probably not. 

Wait and see. 

I nod and climb off his lap. There's a Bridget impression in wet fabric all over him. It looks cool. Sorry about your outfit. 

I wasn't going anywhere. 

Still..

See you at eight. 

I nod again. Eight.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Fealty to a lesser god.

Matt is gone again. I don't know what they're doing. One moment they're two halves of a human heart and then I blink and they're bitter, broken pieces of a love gone wrong. I'm not sure why they see each other and throw themselves over the edge again and again but they do and I get it.

That's why we're ruled by our hearts and our minds instead of one or the other. Neither can be trusted and so everything must be taken to a vote.

In any case, he didn't say goodbye. He said See you later, Bridget as he used to when he would go to work and so I am heartened that I didn't cause a new rift between them. I'm sure I only served to sharpen the old one so that when you run your hand over it to smooth the wrinkles of your life you bleed, but only a little.

Lochlan took my arm and pulled me away from them. Leave it. This is none of our business. 

I opened my mouth to protest and he covered it with his hand. Don't say it, Bridget. Just let them be. Please. 

He would like Sam and Matt to work it out, if only for Sam to not be a threat or some degree of risk, no matter how much I point out he isn't. He's just...well, I'm curious. And that causes problems.

When I checked on Sam to see if he was okay he said he will be, that Matt is supposed to work and then catch up on some chores and then he'll be back straightaway so they can sort this out.

But? I ask.

Do you think he'll come back? 

He loves you. 

But he doesn't love you, Bridget, and that's the problem. He doesn't like this environment. He doesn't want to live like we live. 

So leave. 

I can't. 

Sure, you can. You'd be so happy, Sam. 

He knows the terms. This is where I live. It isn't up for negotiations. 

I try a weak threat. I'll pack your things myself and throw you out. 

Don't. 

Broken hearts are contagious. Didn't know that. Or maybe I just forgot.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Angry devils and hungry angels.

Matt's car is still in the driveway. Matt is still here. He brought a decent supply of clothes with him. He's not in any hurry to go anywhere. Sam is dark and craving and he's beautiful because of it. Their divorce was finalized months and months ago and...and...I wish I knew...how to stop going around quoting Brokeback Mountain every three or four hours because it's annoying and yet it makes me laugh.

They can't quit each other.

Matt put Polish courage in my coffee cup without asking and I had to pour it out after a quarter of a cup because I'm pretty sure the others are putting things in my food. I don't know. I just know that sometimes when I get uptight about being touched they drug my food and ramp right up and I wake up in strange beds, in strange arms and it's a whole other sort of reunion and I don't know, it's not a bad thing but when even Bridget is burnt out on affection maybe it's too much. 

The collective isn't based around any more than that, sometimes. 

And I can't drink because I felt like a stowaway on stormy seas, tossed from one end of my balance to a void of gravity so profound I couldn't hold the cup any longer, having to set it down. 

No one looked alarmed. That speaks louder than any accusation or started-argument would have, and that's all I need to know. Everyone needs a break sometimes. My intensity burns like fire. Not nice fire but destructive, ravaging fire. 

We can contain that fire, Sam and Matt promised. Come spend a little time. 

I shook my head too hard and it broke off and rolled out the door, across the lawn and over the edge of the cliff. My eyes stung while my nose and ears filled with seawater. My body laughed as my brain drowned.

Okay, my mouth responded to Sam, gurgling my answer as water poured down my chin. But only for a little bit. I don't want to be a distraction if there's a chance you too are getting back together. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Just a Wednesday, thank God.

Today is calmer by far. Woke up early. Stayed up late. Fought out from underneath some sort of iron-sleep-grip move Ben pulled early into the dawn and when I came back from my shower he had replaced me with Lochlan anyway. Saw Matt's car in the driveway and raised my eyebrows ever so slightly and went downstairs to make coffee, because I have a full new bag of bold full city dark roast and dammit I'm going to enjoy it. I poured a big mugful, left it black (the sweet and light was short-lived) and went for a walk to the pool to see if it and I will be friends today.

We cycled out the heavy chlorine and are attempting to see where the tipping point lies between not enough and Bridget-rash. I've told Caleb many times that the tipping point is never going to be safe for pool sanitation and my solution is a fine one (not staying in too long, showering right away when I get out) but he always tries to smother a problem with money until he runs out of ideas anyway.

(I should be more grateful. Yes I know, Diabhal.)

As I loop up to Batman's and come back through front yards I see the new fencing and it makes me sad, as if it were a possibility, the boys would just erect a full bubble over my entire world, and it would move with me as I went. I would be the centre and nothing could touch me. Sometimes I wish they could do that. I wish everything wouldn't touch me. I wish everyone wouldn't touch me. I wish I could feel safe but I do though, until my brain decides that's just too comfortable, Bridget, and talks me right back out of it.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

One, two and three.

The bears came over the fence, from the trees, just between the two main houses where the woods meet the front yard and take over. We didn't do a lot of cutting out there, leaving it the way it is, keeping it natural. They climbed down one by one, loping across the front walk and coming down around the driveway to greet me as I collected some dishes from the studio and spent a few minutes talking with August, who was just getting in.

PJ saw them from the porch and didn't know I was in the driveway. He wanted to see their pattern so he didn't shoo them out, instead coming back inside and heading to the window in the side door off just down from the kitchen to track their route. He saw me drop a coffee mug to the bricks between the garage and the door just as I realized it was a mama bringing her babies to meet me (this being the baby from last year, or perhaps the year before).

I dropped everything when I saw him and ran. He burst out of the door, running toward me. I guess he thought I would freeze like a statue so we pretty much crashed into each other ten feet from the door and while we were landing hard the bears turned tail and headed back up the way they came, mama between them.

August and Caleb both heard the first dish break and were outside in time to see me scrape my hip nicely on the edge of the brick, a meat-crayon girl, which freaked me out because all I can think is that now we need to pressure-wash the stonework again or they'll smell my blood and come back. Caleb was more concerned with getting in the house right now immediately yesterday, since he probably feared I would follow the bears into the dark wood and come out feral once again.

(I only do that for wolves.)

My hip doesn't hurt this morning and further it was nicely bandaged by Lochlan when he got home, who gets further credit for going back out in the dark. He picked up all the broken pieces of stoneware, pressure washed a large area of driveway and then sprayed some bleach on it for good measure and then dug out all the extra electric fence netting we had left over, stored in the garage. Tomorrow they'll make the electric part higher in that area, just to discourage this new breach in our perfect fortress. It's misguided. I don't mind the wild animals, it's the domestic ones that you have to worry about.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Short-lived ceasefire.

Neamhchiontach. 

I look over my shoulder from the swing. I was having a beautiful day. No headache. No rashes. No heartache. No noise. No hoverers. No beautiful helicopter men piloting around me trying to juggle space and fire, balance concern with autonomy, wage wars instead of peace. 

I exhale finally, hold tighter to the ropes and begin to pump my legs, headed for blue sky all the way. His voice breaks the horizon into bits and pieces and I allow the swing to slow, waiting for a complete stop before responding to him. 

Yes? 

Come here. 

My head is a war of its own. Little Miss Submissive screams GO GO BRIDGET GO! and Little Miss Carny screams back NO, HE'S BAD! And Bridget the adult resumes her sullen swing with a point made sharp that she's not a dog. She doesn't come when you ask. 

Yes, she does. He smiles slightly, making that finger-gun gesture, rubbing his fingers against his lips, barely covering his amusement. 

Jesus. I walked right into that one. I bite my lip and shake my head. Nothing takes this day from me. 

Bridget. Now, please. Don't make me ask again. 

My brain packs up and leaves for Stockholm as I drag my feet against the grass until the swing stops again and I stand up. 

Good girl. Caleb drops his hand and his smile. A satisfied cat. A dead little blonde canary. Did you know a deaf canary raised alone in a soundproof box will still sing a perfect song? Sounds lovely. Sounds familiar. 

Black clouds rush in to cover blue skies as the wind picks up and the temperatures plummet to ice. Caleb holds out his hand for me. 

I take it and follow him up over the hill, sliding on the ice, my fingers numb from the cold. He pulls hard. I can't keep up. It's slippery and melting and there are pools everywhere and I put my hand down in one to keep from falling and find the water warm. 

Not just warm, it's hot.

I look up and Lochlan is melting all of the ice with his fire. The ice shrinks until only steam remains, rising from the ground and he meets Caleb face to face. No one backs down. No one concedes. 

Thanks for bringing her back, Lochlan says. Then he's smiling at me. It makes my heart hurt and my knees buckle hard. I was just about to come looking for you. 

He takes my hand and loops his easy teenage affection around my shoulder, pulling me in close, keeping me up in spite of my knees, turning us around to go back to the house. The fire is the horizon now, a wall behind us that roars so loudly in my ears I never did catch what Caleb was shouting. 

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Every time I yawn someone sticks their finger in my mouth because they think it's funny. Let's see what happens when I bite the next one right off.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Grr.

The seventy hour headache is finally waning and I'm due to get a whopping five hours of sleep tonight thanks to an airport run tonight followed by early errands tomorrow.

Great. That should help in spades.

And as it turns out my skin is hypersensitive to chlorine and I have to limit my swim time and shower immediately upon leaving the water. I'm just going to start spiking my OJ with hydrocortisone cream and see how that goes instead. The only thing I'm not allergic to? The redhead, I think.

Life could be worse, right?

Sure it could. I could be Caleb, who volleyed for yet another night and failed to secure one and is now pacing his warpath, plotting our ruin and being a real jerk, frankly.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Magical creatures.

I found the perfect pair of overalls today. A mid-faded blue denim, bib pocket, carpenter style with legs I can roll up a bit so that they look cute with a pink ballerina top and pink glitter flip flops. I put my hair in the tiniest ponytail but it was half out within the hour. 

Lochlan sees me and says What the hel- and then breaks into a huge grin. You look fourteen again. 

I know. I tell him with despair. Until you reach my actual face. 

Bridget, I don't know what you're talking about. He's blind to the dark circles, the furrowed pain-brow that speaks of a sixty-five hour migraine that has had around ten or twelve hours of sleep within it, not enough to conquer it by far. Blind to the fact that I gave up on all of my pain meds already, pretending it doesn't bother me one minute while the next finds me gritting my teeth just trying to brush them. I rip out the ponytail and put the tie back on my wrist. 

Ow. 

That ratchets you down to twelve. He smiles again. My bangs are in my eyes and the rest is wild waves. You okay?

Still have a headache. 

Want me to call the doctor?

He's not a doctor. 

I'll bite. Want to go to the other doctor? Clinic? ER? 

Maybe all three. 

He stirs to get up. No, stay put. I'm just thinking about it.

Bridget-

It's fine. I just have to sleep. 

So sleep. 

I hate sleeping. I might miss something. 

Now you're ten. 

Why? 

Because that's what you always used to say. Remember I said it's like you think every night is Christmas Eve and you think you might see Santa if you stay up long enough but I told you he only shows up on one of those over three hundred nights in a year so you may as well close your eyes. 

I remember. 

So close your eyes, Peanut. Sleep away the pain. 

I'm trying. 

Your eyes are still open. 

This is a long habit to break, Locket. 

Well, it's either sleep now or after you see Santa in about six and a half months. But you'll be a raving lunatic by then. 

And I'm not now?

Half loon, half circus child. I'll take it, either way. I feel like that top is a leotard (because in the nineties all ballerina tops were bodysuits. God I'm old) and if you take the overalls off you'll be ready for the swings. 

Well it isn't and I don't have any underwear on so if I take off my overalls I'll put on a show alright.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Cease & quiet.

I need some room to breath
You can stay asleep if you wanted to
They say that's nothings free
You can run with me if you wanted to
Yeah you can run with me if you wanted to
There's nothing better than waking up to hear the first Foo Fighters song I've liked in a decade. It's called Run and it's really good. Not since The Pretender in 2007 has one of their songs hooked me from the first chorus like that.

***

Sam is a song I can't hear, playing softly on the radio on the kitchen counter by the open window where a warm midmorning summer breeze lifts the curtains just enough to let the memory thief slip between them, straight back into my head.

What about the letters, Bridget?

He's codependent, enabling, needing me to need him and today I don't need anyone.

You read them. 

I have. 

Great. You can do me a book report. Like in grade five when I did one on The Great Brain and by the end I realized it was a book about Lochlan. 

That's funny but that's changing the subject. 

You're fucking gaslighting me, Sam. 

August has you in a good spot, then. Sam concedes, backing off as I think about precisely the spot August had me in last time I saw him, wedged up against the door under his hands, my head pressed against the night latch. I think I have a dent in my temple from it, truth be told, and I reach up to rub it while Sam remains oblivious.

I'll keep them for you. Someday you may change your mind. I'm just trying to keep your best interests at heart. 

God. He fits in here so nicely. So well, as they all get along like brothers, barely breaking the mold of their teenage years which came to mean passing me around like a bottle of forbidden alcohol, risking a sip here, a swallow there, hiding me away, bringing me out to fight over, angry young drunks with a bone to pick, when mine were clean and so easily plucked, bent like bows to shoot arrows through all of them until I had a stack of hearts a mile long, my arrow so weighed down it headed in the wrong direction, taking me so long to get back here I arrive bitter, tired and suspicious, resentful as hell.

(I didn't mean to write all that today but there it is.)

I reach out and turn the radio off and close the window and the silence that echoes back to me is deafening.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

If it's going to be limited edition I'm going to have to make my own after this.



We found them!! BEST. THING. EVER. (Ignore the blurry photo. It's actually a stellar iphone7 portrait mode photo but Blogger has to quash it beyond belief and the same guy who enables my candy issues won't tell me how to make it better.)


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

If I could breed I'd show you all my infantile obsessions
If I could sleep I'd hold you in my head
If I was strong I'd keep you close and render you defenseless
If I was gone I'd hope you'd take my place
I know what he's going to say before he says it. I know him like I know my own face in a mirror.

Neamhchiontach. Leave things alone. Later on it will just add more heartache when you have to go through all these hoops to change it back.

I won't be changing it back. This is it. This is my final form. 

He laughs. If I were to bet money on that, I'd wager you'll have a name you'd had before. 

You're bringing Jacob back. 

Not his. And no. Stop it. I can't. Even if I could I wouldn't. 

Because you don't want me to be happy. 

What I WANT is for you to be mine. My name looked good on you. 

Don't make things complicated. 

It made things easy, actually. How many doors opened for you with my name? How easy was it to pretend? It can be real. 

The age of monsters is over, sorry. 

You going to talk like him all afternoon?

Will it make you stop? If so, then, yes. Sure.

What is it the age of now? Destitute carnies? 

Hell yes it is. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

A very long and roundabout way to get to the name I used to write out in my notebook over and over again, trying it on for size.

So.

So? 

Lochlan is filthy, finishing detailing the engine on the latest and greatest. The minute he said he was selling the camper, he had a buyer. They say I'll buy it, just tell me how much and he smiles to himself as if he can't believe what he thinks is his good fortune instead of his skill at restoring these things. 

He grins. You going to change your name? 

Yeah. I figured I should match the kids. I laugh when his face falls.

It's a bad joke but he realizes it right away and he yells JESUS CHRIST. HAHAHAHA. That actually didn't cross my mind. Wait. Is that what you're doing? 

(The kids share a last name with Caleb and Cole. Because they were brothers. Because Cole was their father until it was discovered that he wasn't but that's okay, he wasn't alive to find that out and I didn't want to take their memories of him as their father away.)

No. I figured I need to belong to the living. I deserve it. 

Come here, Mrs. M.

I get a hug and now I'm filthy too. 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Death of the party.

Too hot. Can't post. Spent all day in the pool. Have a rash from the sunscreen, a rash from the sun itself and a rash from the chlorine. Have a rash from Caleb's stubble. Have a rash from the Strawberry slushy. Have a rash from heat. Too hot. Can't post. Too tired. Going to take my rashy self down to sleep in the hanging chair naked with no blankets because it's cool down here in the studio and I can just curl up like a cat and have Ben for company. It's only 7:15 pm. Figures.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Marching on.

Gregg Allman is this morning's heartbreak, dead at 69. This is why I don't Internet, folks, and as much as the boys tried to shield me I was told and this sucks, when your favorites die. It fucking sucks. Not as much as people you touch every day but they touch you in a different way, through music and it's still hard and I wish I could hit pause on the whole world sometimes because as I always say, it's fucking fleeting.

The Allman Brothers are a perfect soundtrack to an outdoor dinner, a perfect relaxing blissful break from whatever stresses you have when you just want to relax and not worry. Go see, if you don't already know. Go listen. Listen to Brothers and Sisters album and tell me you don't agree.

(Or search here. There are at LEAST eleven mentions on SWP.)

If there's going to be a void in my universe every ten days I swear I'm just going to disappear so I never find out, so I can't be sad, so I just won't have to feel like all of this is eventually for nothing. Sometimes it seems as if we were put here to swing wildly between euphoria and despair and it seems perfectly rewarding and unbelievably cruel at the same time.

And yet on we go.

(Jacob would say Onward and upward. I'm changing it a little. I'll be changing my last name soon too. It's time.)

Friday, 26 May 2017

Adams family.

My hands are rough,
My fingers cold,
And your heart's so young and so naive,
To ever feel,
For a moment that I might dare to believe
Today I get the pleasure of my favorite beach towel coming back to me, having spent the past five months in the linen closet next door because Daniel put things away and it looked like a regular turquoise towel when it's folded.

When you unfold it, it's a mermaid wearing a narwhal mask. It's so obviously mine. So out to lunch and raucous and pretty too. Vivid greens, purples and turquoise make up the main colors. Ben brought it back for me from Rhode Island and it was instantly the only towel I would ever use again when at the beach or pool.

It went missing last winter and I resolved to go find a copy at all costs. Ben said we could go any time. But I don't lose things. Well, I lose my heart. My soul. My...mind. Stuff, then. I don't lose stuff.

And I'm right because it came back to me.

Daniel said he was going to put it on the shelf in the pool shed and I would wonder how it came back but Schuyler told him to bring it over right away instead so he did and I'm glad. I threw my arms around Daniel and thanked him and Ben walked in just then.

Oh, I see how it is. 

Daniel laughs and said he found the towel.

Ben points out Towel Day was yesterday and Daniel nods, happy he remembered when he's perpetually preoccupied.

I love watching them together and want more of it so I jump back in.  Swim tonight? You bring the house, I'll bring the house and all the outbuildings?

Deal. Daniel gives Ben a quick hug and heads off. Ben wraps the towel around me and then picks it up by both ends like a hammock only I'm in the middle.

Weeeeee, I laugh. It's a swing! 

It could be. But you've touched my little brother and now you must be cleansed in fire, Ben says with a thick accent.

Gotcha covered, Lochlan says and he walks in, not at all surprised at the sight in front of him. I know a guy. He winks.

Found my towel! 

Awesome. You want to leave it inside so it doesn't get burned? 

What? 

You heard the man.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Teenage wasteland.

Henry wanted a cup of coffee with his breakfast so I made him one and now I'm flying sheets for sails, ready to do whatever needs to be done because caffeine is my cocaine, apparently.

He took one sip, made a face in spite of the generous amounts of milk and sugar I included, and handed it back, telling me I should save it, I can have it later.

Ah, my son. Six-foot-one, an almost-sixteen year old trapped between childhood lemonade and overly-strong coffee like a caged animal suddenly faced with being free. Sometimes with him I feel like half-parent, half lion-tamer which makes perfect sense if you knew Jake. Those similarities I won't allow myself to see anymore, as Henry is his own person, not the image of anyone else. He will grow into his own skin eventually.

I hope I grow into mine somewhere around that time too.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Withering dance.

This morning at the grocery store I discovered Firework Oreos. They have Pop Rocks in the icing.

Then I promptly forgot all about them when a decidedly hasty senior citizen with a motorized scooter beeped instead of asking me to move or saying excuse me. He beeped at me and I was so surprised I stepped out of the way and forgot to buy my Oreos. I mean maybe he did say something and I didn't hear him. Not like that hasn't happened a million times but John was right beside me and he almost jumped out of his flesh at the beep. His hearing is perfect.

(This is how I die, I bet. Someone will yell Duck! in the middle of a huge action scene and I'll turn around and say What? and get blown to smithereens.)

So fuck it. I hope they still have them next week because I won't be going back until then. Once a week is about all I can manage, even if it means taking two people with me and buying a thousand dollars worth of food that barely fits in my house and will actually be gone in four or five days, not seven but we fill in the gaps with take out a couple of times a week and sometimes meals are sporadic affairs anyway.

I shop like I'm starring in Eat, Pray, Love these days anyway. The weather reports are coming in that we're going to have a hot dry summer and so I'm buying a lot of olives, smoked cheeses, proscuitto, fruit and vegetables to eat raw so we don't spend the summer filling up on red meat and endless potato salad. Don't get me wrong, I love potato salad but not only is it finicky to leave out for any length of time (you really can't when it's hot so it's not a nibbly dish, as Duncan would say) it's heavy. It's not the kind of thing you can leave on a table by the pool and graze on all afternoon, in other words.

Lochlan said the only things missing from my plans are champagne and caviar.

Caleb replies, with perfect ironic timing, Who says those things are missing? 

And all I could think was Perfect. I guess we're all set, then. I hated the heat last year and I still hate it now but if they're not going to let me spend any time in the ocean, then once it gets really warm I'm going to have to buy an ice maker and aim it into the pool. I can catch cubes in my drink and use the rest to keep the caviar (and the potato salad, because lets face it, it's delicious) cold all damn day.

(PS I don't fucking eat caviar unless there are no other options. I eat cotton candy, corn dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches mostly. Monte Cristos if I can find 'em. Don't worry. You can take the girl away from the Midway but you'll never take the Midway away from the girl, in case you thought I was getting pretentious. More like pretend-ious. Come on.)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

The devil and the deep blue me.

Today in marked contrast I have close a dozen large hovering shadows, including one baby preacher who insists he isn't trying to alter the hierarchy of the Collective itself and one devil who confirms that he is always trying to change the pecking order, because that's his legacy and not even Sam + God can stop him, if Lochlan can't.

He already did, I tell Caleb, with seawater pouring down my chin. I've turned into a mermaid with webbed fingers and endless kelp for hair. A huge fin. Good luck catching me now. 

But he has me by the wrist and he won't let go. My fin keeps floating up to the surface. It hurts.

No more pills. 

Right. No more pills. I tell them whatever they want to hear when they get bossy and demanding. Later on when they're begging me in return I get it all back and then some. 

No more jumps. 

No more jumps. I roll my eyes and lean away from his grip and he snaps me back so I know who is boss. 

Bridget, what has gotten into you? 

The Pacific, and she's a fierce competitor. 

Competition for what?

My heart. 

I thought we had your heart. 

Oh, hell, I don't even know where all the pieces are at this point. To illustrate my point, I watch as yet another tiny chunk breaks free, escaping from its cage of bones and floating slowly up toward the light. It's like pouring glitter into oil, slow and beautiful. 

I turn back to address him but abruptly he yanks me down, pushing himself upward, finding momentum to chase that tiny piece. Except that he's not a merman, or even an angel. He's just a man, and he has enough.

(He has what I gave him and that's what he'll get.)

You're wasting your energy, I call after him and seawater floods back into my lungs.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Baseball metaphors and sneaky grief.

I took a deep breath and jumped over the edge, a slight unnecessary running start out of habit. The cliff rushed by me in a hurry and I was plunged deep into the icy water at the end of my travels, a shock to a system that finds little shocking anymore. I open my eyes under the surface and Jacob grins at me and waves. I rocket to the top, swallowing seawater along the way. I always have had issues with water I can't see to the bottom of, as if something might grab me. And there he is now. My own personal boogieman, disguised as my much missed and always beloved former husband.

I'm not dumb. I know it's a trap. A trap my brain is conditioned to set, as ordained by the memory thief in order to feel useful.

He takes my legs and shoves me upward, toward the light and my head breaks the dawn. I start coughing up water and do a slow circle around, three hundred and sixty degrees. My legs tread a frantic tide, my hands shake. My dress billows up around my shoulders and I wait for my throat to stop spasming before I set off for what seems like such an easy trip around the point, back to the beach when the boys are in the water. Alone it's a thousand miles. Alone it's dark and Jacob is under there somewhere even though that's ridiculous.

A huge splash behind me and Lochlan's red curls are hardly wet when he surfaces.

We cooling off the hard way? And without a buddy? 

I needed a shock to the system. 

So I'll let you rewire the taillights. But I won't tell you how. It'd be safer than flinging yourself off this fucking cliff every time you have a bad day. You don't need to know how it feels, Bridget. You only have to not follow him down. You follow me instead. It worked before.

And with that he turns and begins to swim away, knowing me well enough to know that I will panic and keep up with him out of fear.

You weren't there. 

Sorry I had my head in an engine. Trying to finish this one off so we can get ours. He's still flipping campers like mad. Each one he says is ours. He lies so easily sometimes it worries me more than I worry myself.

It's not your fault, Lochlan. 

Oh, I know that. Sam wasn't paying attention. 

We're not speaking all that easily. 

Oh, really?

Nothing major. I just bumped Diabhal back to third and relegated the baby preacher to the outfield. This time he noticed. 

I can speak with hi-

No, I'll talk to him tonight. 

I'll be nearby. 

I know. 

Better? Refilled your veins, heart and lungs? Think you can go a couple days before you do that again? 

I shrug as I shiver. The water's fucking freezing. I don't think I'll do this again for a bit. 

We have a pool. 

It's not the same. 

Don't tell Caleb that. He spent a fortune on it for you. 

Sunday, 21 May 2017

On drowning that wanderlust, once and for all.

Christian yelled out the window around seven-fifteen.

Can you guys keep it down? 

Because with a mighty scream, I went booking across the backyards and jumped into the pool. I won the race, as I'm even lighter when I haven't eaten breakfast yet and have always been a fast runner. All Lochlan had to do was grab his unicycle from the garage and he would have been there an hour before me.

Also someone forgot to turn the pool heater up and my whole body went into space-horror-movie cryofreeze before my feet touched the bottom of the pool.

I surfaced still screaming. I drank too much water on the way back up. My stomach is going to hurt something fierce later on. It will anyway when four o'clock rolls around.

Lochlan surfaced swearing, just as Christian's window opened.

Sorry, we call. It's cold. 

Andrew appears behind Christian and Lochlan pokes me very gently in the back when we see him at the same time.

We'll be quiet! Go back to sleep, guys. 

And so we commence our whispery early morning swim. It's already fifteen degrees and sunny and so we're going to take advantage. Besides, we have to get everything out of the way early today. Today the final Ringling Bros. circus performance is being livestreamed online. We're going to watch it all. I had an offer to go in person but I didn't want to ugly-cry through what should be a happy event so I will do that in the comfort of my theatre. We'll hook the computer up to the projector and watch it on the big screen.

It's the end of an era, and I'm sad it's over. This is the one show everyone aspired to end up in, and now I never will.

Ah well, Peanut. It's all good. We did a lot of shows too. 

Not over forty-eight thousand of them. 

Maybe four hundred and eighty, all told. 

Yeah. 

Seasons change, Bridge. But he has tears in his eyes when he says it.

Don't be sad, Locket.

Naw, it's just the water. I've made my peace already. 

I don't buy that for a minute. If ever anyone was made for that life and so terribly uncomfortable in this one, it's Lochlan. Maybe that's the reason we didn't go. Not because I will ugly-cry but because he will.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Freak pizza.

The shame is all mine as the jokes began around dinner last evening. Both kids were out, we were making homemade pizzas, and Caleb finally came downstairs. A few softhearted shoves as he ran the gauntlet and they have decided that I wore him out, that I'm like Sleeping Beauty except if you touch me, you're the one who falls asleep for a thousand years, or until there is food nearby.

Sure enough, he ate like five slices of pizza while Dalton made gentle jokes about working up an appetite and being hungry because Bridget's not enough, no meat on her bones. I made a mental note to show him otherwise, but not today because today my bones are worn out and we're in a good place. Everyone is in love, everyone is content. Ben is super good and content and finds life funny again. Sam is a little detached, his usual hesitance, though this time it's not borne out of self-consciousness but out of a need to feel useful and I don't know if he does right now. Too much of any good thing and I get into a headspace where I get blinded by touch and then I'm no good at all and he loses every ounce of his perfect objectivity and we're useless.

Useless.

Lochlan took back his easy ownership, his alpha-male role, finding a second piece of pizza, eating it folded with one hand, the other looped around my neck. I was already finished my piece. Gorgonzola with ham, pineapple, mushrooms and black olives, washed down with a glass of white wine. I also eat one of PJ's left over crusts, which he hands to me with a wink. I pretend to glare at him before Caleb makes his goodbyes and heads back across the drive. Once he's gone, Lochlan physically relaxes in a way that still bothers me since it's so much different than what he says out loud. He turns me in close so I am standing between his knees. He threads both arms around my back and kisses me on the nose.

Okay? He whispers so no one can hear him. They're all talking about cars anyway. The food is almost gone and everyone is scattering back to their long weekend comfort zones.

I nod and he kisses my forehead, rubbing my back with one thumb as he holds on tightly.

What about you? 

I'm okay. I don't think he sounds convinced. Forgiving the Devil is a tough road to walk but we're still walking it. He pulls me until I am resting against him, head over his shoulder, arms around his neck and he just stays like that forever.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Good place.

I swear to God. A long weekend even peeks around the corner and there's Sophie, arriving like a queen without a court because she has nothing better to do than hunt for her perfect future in my front fucking yard.

God, I don't hate many people outright but I hate her. I don't know what Jacob saw in her. He was never shallow enough to settle for perfect. I wonder if she's maybe only a shell now being run by an alien life form here to detail how we do polyamory, how we do communes.

How we do life after Jacob.

Maybe she turned cold, bitchy and singularly-focused because he died. Maybe she has regrets too.

But she can't have Caleb. And once again he leaves me to deal with her. He isn't home. Later he will message her with his excuses, whatever lets himself off the hook. So she rings my bell to ask if I can let her into his house.

Why would I do that? He's home. Maybe he doesn't want to see you. That's what he gets for not protecting me from her.

I heard through the grapevine that you're together now.

I shrug. What grapevine is that? 

People talk about you, Bridget. I know you like to pretend you can get away with anything you like here but people still talk. Supposedly you have two husbands and a boyfriend now? 

I have, like, five boyfriends. Your grapevine blows. 

I thought she was choking and I was going to watch her die but then she found her verbal footing again and asked me if I could have Caleb call her when he was free, that she's only in town until early Monday morning.

Did you leave a voicemail for him? 

Yes, but-

Then if he wants to call you back, he will. 

You can't have them all, Bridget. 

I don't 'have' anyone. They're not toys, Sophie. They're grown men. And I don't know why you keep showing up on my property since Caleb has a phone and he has email too. I'll suggest now that on Labour Day, you stay the fuck away because next time you come around harassing my family I'm calling the police. 

He's not your fami-

Oh yes he is. 

The door slammed in my face right then, and in hers too I supposed. I looked to the right and there's Lochlan with his arm out, standing just behind me in the front hall.

I wasn't going to wait for teeth and claws. 

Well, you're no fun. 

But boy, you sure are! I think she thought you were still going to be tiny helpless Miss Mess and instead you were a snarling ball of...of....protective awesome. 

Protective awesome? 

I don't know what else to call it, but it's long overdue and I am proud of you. You stood your ground.

I hear a car door slam and the engine roar to life and she's gone again. I'll find out who keeps leaving the gate open later.

I grin at him. I'm proud of me too. 

Though your boundaries are completely misguided and fucked up. 

But I'm getting better at it, right? 

Don't get ahead of yourself, Bridget.

Because I have no boundaries. Caleb is upstairs in my bed, sleeping in today. Because it's Friday and it's a long weekend and I can be tiny helpless Miss Mess whenever I damn well please.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

First half for the lovers, second for the haters.

So what gives me the right
To think that I could throw away a life?
Even mine
And what makes you believe
That you could get away with getting old?
Overlapping me
Maybe to lose or to save your soul
Is a choice of how you fill the hole

And the rain got in
I post today in honour of the memory of one of my favourite singers of all time. You wonder why we coddle Ben so badly and keep him up and moving when he gets down? You think I'm the one with demons? My demons are 6'4" and 5'10" respectively. One has white blonde hair, one chestnut. Both are blue-eyed and mostly harmless now. They have names and nicknames too, Cole (Trey) and Jacob (Preacher)

Ben's demons are forty stories tall, he doesn't know their names or what they look like because when they're coming for him he turns and runs, and I don't want them to catch up to him alone in the bathroom of a hotel far from home because the thought of that is the saddest thing in the world to me. Rest peacefully, Chris Cornell. Your demons can't find you now.

[Technical details for the gatekeepers, which I rarely stoop to. There's a search bar at the top, to your left, assholes but here. I hate reading old posts. Fuck you. 

March 2007 (This is the oldest one and also features the worst sex 'accident' I've ever had.)

July 2010  (news that Soundgarden is reuniting.)

July 2011 (Bought Soundgarden tickets. So Excited.)

July 2011 again (Live Soundgarden show review)

March 2016 (Solo album Higher Truth came out and I LOVED it.)

There's more but now I'm even sadder. Happy now? Do I get to be a fan today by your standards? Hey, thanks.]

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Meta Spaghetta.

The sea is a dark smoky teal today. I'm watching it as I finish spaghetti with my homemade meat sauce. It's lukewarm but it's still warmer than being outside. Outside is twelve degrees and windy, almost-rainy and cold. I've got Cole's sweater on. I wash the spaghetti down with a glass of whiskey and drop my fork into the bowl. I'm finished. Dinner was a free for all. Ruth is working, Henry is out with Caleb (doing hey-you're-not-actually-my-father-after-all and son things and getting dinner at the end and Lochlan's putting the camper back together after a last-minute decision to put fireproof insulation between the outer shell and the inside walls. I don't know what code is for that but he knows how quickly a camper can go up and he worries about me falling asleep in it. I sleep so lightly it's not an issue but he has decided it is the issue du jour. I should point out that yes, campers go up fast when you deliberately burn them to the ground but he might not appreciate that.

Sleeping dogs and all that.

Ben offered me a swim with a laugh. It's too cold and once I have Cole's sweater on I'm loathe to take it off. This sweater is the opposite of Cole. It's warm and soft and comfortable. It doesn't make demands or take out anger or jealousy on me. It doesn't hand me off and then demand that I feel nothing. It hasn't left or died or hurt me. It's the good parts of Cole. I've tried to get rid of it. I've destroyed it and it keeps finding its way back to me. Kind of like Ben and his cat-burglar heart, sneaking in and taking all the good stuff if you fall asleep with your windows open, when the night is a dark smoky teal and the spaghetti is long cold and left on the table beside a half-asleep princess, who still marvels that she is the one that got away.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Bluesday.

Today I planted peas, beans, carrots, sweet peppers, chives and cucumbers in the little greenhouse. It's cold at night but not too cold and they're safe. I didn't have any tomato seeds at all or I would have done some of those. I may wait and get seedlings so they have a better footing. Last year the tomatoes drove me crazy. Maybe I'll do cherry tomatoes in pots. Maybe I'll skip them altogether. We'll see.

I have garlic, rosemary, sage, basil and lavender to do in the smaller gardens. Plus pumpkins, corn and sunflowers which go straight into the ground as seeds in another two weeks or so. No rush. I don't need to have a barren yard September first. The growing season will extend beyond that in this zone so-

You didn't come here for my gardening? Figures.

Ben is doing a lot better. He's back to himself. The tender, doubtful expression is gone and he seems good. The thief of hearts returns, just as I left him.

I left him..

Oh, there's an expression I won't use again, up there now with stupid inconsequential but devastating ones like dead tired and falling for you.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Bossy

Ben smells like soap and cedar. He had a blisteringly hot shower right before bed, arriving under the quilts still warm and slightly pink to the touch. By the time he finishes with me I was also warm and pink to the touch. He tells me to stop holding my breath so I ask him if he'd hold it for a while, that I'm tired. He laughs, asking me point-blank if I want sleep.

I shake my head. No. I want you. 

More? 

Please.

I'll get crucified tomorrow when you fall asleep in your rice krispies. 

We'll deal with that tomorrow. 

***

Bridge! The fuck. There's milk dripping on the floor. 

I was leaning on one elbow over my bowl. I closed my eyes for just a second and my arm slipped and my chin hit the rim, sending a waterfall of milk and rice krispies cascading to the tile floor. PJ is impressed. He mopped the main level floors yesterday.

Ooh. Sorry! I sit up and scoop the bowl back up but it's too late. Sam smiles at me, taking the bowl from me. Duncan puts some toast in for me instead while PJ comes around with the sponge to clean up the mess I'm perfectly capable of cleaning up. I'm just so tired.

When the toast is ready, Duncan slathers it with honey and brings it to the table. He pulls out a chair for me and sits next to me to keep me talking, chewing with my mouth open, while I eat.

Maybe you should go back on your meds for this. PJ has no patience today either. Who needs sleep again? Me or him?

Once upon a time I took some really awful amphetamines for this, but they took my anxiety and cranked it through the roof. It's better to be sleepy than crazy, Peej, I remind him.

Til you crash while you're driving. 

If I'm sleepy I don't drive. It's only when I can let myself relax that it happens anyway. 

He puts the stools back under the island ledge. For now. 

Rice krispies are just boring, that's all. My defence fails to spare any pity from them at all.

I'll talk to Ben, Sam says and abruptly runs his hand down my head. It's an uncharacteristically affectionate move from him and everything starts shutting down. I choke on my toast and Duncan slaps my back. PJ puts a glass of juice in front of me.

Drink. I think you should go back up and sleep. You're not doing well today. 

I'm fine. It wasn't- I turn to look at Sam and he has no idea he just pulled a Jake-move. I'll make sure I get to sleep early tonight. Ben will understand. They all do. Sam sits down and I lean against him, putting my head against his shoulder. I was about to say something when I jerk awake again.

Not fine, Bridget. I'm taking you up so you can go back to bed for a bit. Now. Finish your juice. Good girl. Now say goodnight. 

I had plans-

Cancel them.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Backwards masking.

What would you like to do this afternoon, Neamhchiontach?

Paint our faces like butterflies, blow bubbles and dance on the beach. Maybe go get some pho. 

With the face paint still on?

Of course. We're not savages. 

He frowns. No way in his hell am I getting any of that. He marvels that I didn't just make up something civilized for his ease of saying he could grant all my wishes. I mean, I'd like to go roller-blading too or kayaking but I'm also scared shitless of both of those things and those feel more like things I should do than things I want to do. And what I want to do is paint my face like a butterfly.

He's wrestling with his response and it's winning. I can see it pushing him right out of the circle.

How about lunch? 

Pho would be good. I mentioned it already. They HATE pho. Hate it. I like it. It's weird. But I'll concede on the pho if I can paint your face. 

His head drops and he wishes the ground would cough up a normal person, no doubt. A trophy-girlfriend. Someone predictable.

(Ha. That's dumb. Who likes normal?)

But we still have to go out fully painted. 

Bridget-

I get it. You're not ready for full-on weird. 

Oh, I am. 

So I can paint your face?

No. 

Drat. You know who will let me paint their faces without complaining? 

Who? 

Anyone but you. Just sayin'. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

We don't have a round table but I think I might fix that.

We went to see King Arthur: Legend of the Sword this afternoon. It was so very clever, so metal, so fast and so beautiful done. I would go back and see it again tomorrow, maybe. I loved it. I hope it does well. Then I came out blind into the cold sun and we made our way home, my head stuffed full of swordfights, giant rats and incredibly witty storytelling, all tied neatly into some of the most stunning visuals I've ever seen onscreen. It's a keeper, and I'm very picky when it comes to knights and medieval films.

It was a distraction in a day that sees some improvement over all. Ben is Lochlan's phoenix, resurrected in flames over and over again. Perpetual lives, while I watch from the sidelines, all the effort I have on what is a magnificently limited physical budget these days. I am getting better but still coughing too much, still low on energy and high on short-temperedness. It will get better. Ben will get better. He did that thing where he got cocky and dialed back on a lot of his support mechanisms, quickly finding out it was too soon.

It's always too soon and rarely a good move. So everything was brought back to where it was, only he dropped a bit and has to climb back up to where he was. His frustration and embarrassment is evident in spite of reassurance that he's out there doing the work to protect himself, that he should be damn proud. Fuck embarrassment. No one's laughing at him. Everyone loves him beyond measure. That's what helps him fall asleep at night, one arm around me, one hand on Lochlan. Safe. Protected. Sober. Okay for the moment.

The sword in the stone for him is clear-headedness and no one's going to take it from him. I'll be his knight. While I'm bumping along in armor that's too big dragging a shield that's too heavy, they can laugh at me all they want. But no one would. That's the best thing about the Collective. Instead, someone will step in and take the shield from me to carry, and the rest of them will stand in front of and behind Ben. Protecting him, holding him up, pushing him forward, having his back.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Smart as a Saturniid.

Who is this?

Ne Obliviscaris. It's their acoustic arrangement of Painters of the Tempest Part II, Movement III: Curator.

It's beautiful.

You should hear the original.

But Caleb isn't really paying attention, standing here on the front porch in the near dark, gazing at me with that truncated half-smile,  moreso with his eyes than his mouth. His hand comes up to touch my face and I flinch automatically and the smile is gone. A soft kiss lands on my lips. He doesn't close his eyes. I don't close mine. He steps back out of my personal space and asks for my evening in return. So he can apologize properly, profoundly, for what was a tense and unwelcome week solely due to his jealousy. Not the birthday week I was hoping for (because oh, I envision so many things and the anticipation paralyzes me regardless), instead a tough navigate through conflictingly-charted waters ending on an island with no name.

It has a name, he says without turning. Point Perdition. You named it.

I did. I go back inside without answering his request and Lochlan asks if I want the music off.

Maybe. Not like I can hear it when I move. If we can talk over it it may as well be off, because I can't strain hard enough to catch a note.

Hey. He says as he comes back (the remote is in the kitchen for the sound).

Losing my grip, Locket.

You're not going anywhere, Peanut. I gotcha. We're going to go up and have a nap with Ben. He's feeling similar. Looks like I have my hands full tonight.

I can get Sam, if you-

I can handle this. 

We bundled in with popcorn and watched documentaries on Netflix until I was asleep and Ben was calm enough to try to close his eyes. We locked the door. We left two very dim lights on. We boarded up access to the outside world but the impending storm never came. When we emerged, somewhat pale and shaken, worn through for holding on, we realized Lochlan was right.

He did great. No one lost their shit or fell in a hole on his watch and now I know all sorts of things about the world's worst prisons, the Ganges river in India, and the secret lives of bodyguards, one of which I seem to have right now.