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.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Bird on a hill.

(Oh but from such a young age you told me I couldn't trust anyone.)

You think they're not just like me, Bridget? You think they don't think the same way? We're wolves. We eat our young. We take you out into the night and devour you alive. The same ones you run to when you're scared want to hurt you the same way I do. Just enough.

I am breathless, hitching gasps for air mixed with sobs. Sweat sticks my hair to my face and fear keeps me paralyzed in place.

I lie underneath them and I understand what he means. My currency is myself. My debts are never paid. My safety a tightrope I can't seem to balance on because terror makes it twang against the pulleys. Fear is quicksand, gravity, a weighted anchor in a churning sea and I'm drowning but I'm still alive.

Liar. But my accusation bounces off him like a errant bee. Lochlan isn't like the rest of you.

You'll understand it better when you're older. He's already turning. It's only a matter of time.

Turning into what?

A werewolf.

No he isn't!

Watch him and see. Watch him when no one's watching him.

And I did and he never turned. He marched right up to the dark and put on yet another show, a pretense at being all the things he thought he had to be and then he shed that skin like a snake and went back to being himself. And I was never so relieved.

***

Crow came for everyone for supper, delivered in the form of a gift for August, from Caleb mostly with the others chipping in. A Breville. Daniel and Sam taught him how to use it, while Caleb swore to me he won't engage in petty fights any longer, that he'll save his hills for bigger stakes, that he'll make sure it's worth it instead of kicking the dirt out from underneath where they stand in hopes that they'll fall.

No one here is beneath you, I told him as I sipped what had to be the ninth espresso made tonight, as August gets the hang of it and takes over from Sam's directions.

Understood.

(All these espressos are the equivalent of a Mountain Dew, which is the second thing you'll discover upon meeting me. No one is permitted to give me Mountain Dew. I react badly and begin to paint the house. I stayed up for three days once. I learned to do cartwheels starting with my left hand. I was holding a drink in my right. I still have the scar. And they don't give me Mountain Dew anymore.)

Put it down, Peanut. Ah. Here's someone who remembers Bridget doing the Dew.

Hi, Lochlan! 

Want some? August is enjoying this.

It's nine o'clock at night, Aug. 

Oh shit. Sorry man. She seemed to like it. 

How many, Bridge?

Like, seven? 

Oh Jesus. Lochlan gives me a withering gaze. August says goodbyes and reminds us to come back for breakfast or if we can't sleep. Caleb shoots him the most terrible look while I nod at lightning speed, a hummingbird-girl.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Deep cuts.

That's the biggest downside of living in a communal environment. Aside from a glaring lack of privacy (we have lots of space, we just have lots of people too), living in close quarters with so many passionate people with our hearts all strung out on a line is that our fighting styles are vastly different. Vastly. And everything seems to raise the stakes until they stab us through, stuck deep into those bleeding hearts for no reason other than to attempt to prove a point, usually at someone else's expense.

Caleb tends to organize us into the little classes he has made up inside his head, with rich people like himself, Batman and Ben at the proverbial top and normal people like Schuyler, Sam and Christian, Dalton and Duncan in the middle and then the gutter rats at the bottom seem to be me and Lochlan, always called out for whatever decision we make as clearly not informed/educated/wealthy enough to understand whatever gravity we find ourselves in. Then there are those he just doesn't like, marginalized in a way only Caleb can pull off. That's August, in a class by himself, clearly, who never did a thing wrong in his life save for touching me (which isn't as big a deal as you might think and for which he is not to be blamed) and apparently that's the biggest sin going.

No one gives PJ any flack for the same thing but whatever, Caleb. I get who you think the threat is and who isn't.

Me, if I decide I'm going to take you up on your fight it will be the hill I die on, even if it's stupid and pointless. I don't get mad. I get frustrated. I cry. I'll withdraw, sure, but the minute I turn around and decide I'm going in (hold my beer), you'd better realize what you're up against and I think Caleb did this morning as I lit him up once again like an unwelcome hangover sunrise and told him if he EVER said a negative word or even thought a negative thought about someone I care about ever again that we would take our stuff and go and he could live here alone in his perfect existence and we would go back to a patchwork of houses and whatever or maybe (gasp) buy a bigger house somewhere else, maybe back East, and fuck his stupid need to try and prop himself up by tearing the others down and fuck his stupid expensive espresso and fuck fighting for the stupidest reasons.

The rage comes out of somewhere deep, maybe the deep unheated end of the Bridget pool and you don't want to be on the receiving side of it ever, no you don't.

Everyone looked vaguely scared by the time breakfast was over and I had to leave, taking my toast and tea out to the pool and then ignoring it in favor of a swim (the pool is heated, don't worry I won't catch pneumonia since I just had it. FML) because I couldn't even switch gears back and I couldn't stop shaking so I thought a break would bring me back around.

I'm not allowed to swim alone, however and so Lochlan followed me out, across the lawn with his bowl of cereal held in two hands and he didn't look like he was having crowflakes or rice crowkies or crow-ee-os or anything like that he just looked concerned and a little shellshocked and kind of also impressed by my temper so I let him stay (I don't have a choice, they like to let me pretend I do and it WORKS) and I swam back and forth, practicing my form as Sam taught me and tiring myself out and when I finished six fairly slow laps a bunch of people were there, just chilling, with their various breakfast dishes and coffee cups and I came to the ladder and asked if everyone could go back inside, that I'm fine, that I need to go in.

We're good, Ben says. As if they should stay for support. Not realizing that I didn't have a suit. I just took off my pajamas and dove into the pool. I don't think first.

Ok fine. I got out. Marched with confidence all the way around to where my pajamas and my toast were, picked up a piece of toast and stuck it in my mouth while I pulled on my pajama bottoms over wet skin and tried to pull on the top too but everything was pulling and binding and I didn't open the shed where the towels are (it's too early) and so I said fuck it and balled up my clothes and put them under one arm, took my dishes and made my way back across the lawn and inside the house buck naked, where I left my dishes on the counter and went straight upstairs to shower and dress.

God love them all, no one moved or said a word.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

I bought a Porsche wearing pajama shorts once, just to be a dick.

That feeling you get when you defend someone's perfect execution of an espresso (tiny cup, light foam layer, superheated water) only to find out it's instant and he makes it with a kettle every time is that feeling that you've shed some sort of facet of yourself, a fake persona that begs to be set free from all of the put-upons.

Liberating.

This is also exactly the way I feel when I walk into a makeup store fresh-faced. I want to tell them to ease off the judgement, that I'm shopping, for Christs sake. That's a notch below yard work on my chore totem-pole and so why would I dress up or bother putting on makeup for it? Makeup is for fancy nights out, not for the mall, in my universe but then again, I was raised by wolves.

Wolves don't wear makeup. And BOY, do people judge the shit out of you if you head into a place without being covered in the thing you're seeking. Maybe I ran out and that's why I'm here with none on. Maybe I don't know the difference between commercial-made espresso or even espresso made with a machine instead of a kettle and jar setup.

Here's the difference. I'm not fucking pretentious! THAT'S WHY.

Oy. It totally touched a nerve. Wait until I get into visiting car-dealerships in my gardening clothes. STOP FUCKING JUDGING PEOPLE.

Yes, I do it too, because it's human nature, but mostly I do it sweetly, with a lovely fully-fleshed out story to go with what I think I see. It's far less malicious and far more entertaining. And I usually forget that everyone is making fun of me because I'm sheltered or whatever thing they're harping on in any given day.

I don't even know why I wrote this, other than Caleb thought he could take August down a peg by pointing out the espresso he makes (that's so good) is from a kettle and a mix and since I didn't care I got called naive. Which is neither here nor there but pissed me off a ton because it feels just like when I go in Sephora or Mac and they ASSume that since I'm not wearing makeup, I must not know how to use it and that's how I developed my fun story about how it's a shitty chore, shopping is. The higher-end the store, the more they love Caleb and hate me, basically.

It's a ramble. Sorry.

He is one of them and I am, clearly, one of me.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Best laid.

(I promise this is the last post about Burning Man for a while. Cross my heart.)
You can split yourself into two halves
One is watching while the other one reacts
You can play any part you like
Tell me who you want to be tonight

Close your eyes and take a breath and wait a beat
Open them and let it out and look at me
No really look at me
No really look at me
He's smiling unabashed, all his teeth showing. Crazy-excited. Stupidly, eagerly looking forward to taking me away. A pre-birthday trip for him. A bucket list for me. And as usual, Lochlan has no time at all for the naysayers, the cautious lot, the ones telling him it's a bad idea. This is familiar territory to him. He gets an idea for an adventure and everyone's on board, approves and encourages him until he tells them he's taking me with him.

I can't wait to throw fire with you again. 

I match his expression and let all of my teeth see the light too. We probably look insane in the darkness. We've been whispering for hours this morning. I keep falling asleep midsentence and then he stops whispering, talking normally and I wake up and jump right back into the conversation. I have no idea what we're talking about other than some vague promise that he's going to let me burn myself all to smithereens again, like he did at the beginning of our Freak Show turn, when we ended half our shows laughing hysterically with blackened fingers and noses and chins, singed hair and some sort of deathwish unfulfilled. He rejigged the whole thing into an x-rated/adults-only show, we upped our prices, found safety and depravity and sold out every single remaining night without a burned finger to be seen every again. We found our niche.

But since we'll be performing for free (or for food! Or maybe fireworks! Or GLITTER! as I see it) he'll let me loose with the torches too which means...

I have to practice.

(He's never going to let me practice.)

(Not in a million years.)

You don't need to practice. We'll wing it. It's like riding a bike. 

I can't ride a bike.

Oh yeah. Well, fuck.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Blushing bribes.

Sam and I slept right through his alarm this morning because the alarm was set on his phone which was on his bedside table and he wasn't in his bed, he was in ours. Sort of a sometimes-usual-common thing these days as everyone seems to sleep better, he and I included and no one else (meaning Ben or Lochlan) seem to mind.

I think Caleb probably minds. Maybe August minds. I bet Matt minds too but they're not here, they're in their own spaces and this is mine and I do who I want. I mean what I want. I mean it's none of anyone's business.

Until we realize church has started and no one's leading it.

He might have skidded into the sanctuary with tie askew, belt missing entirely, jacket inside out and lipstick on his neck. He might have gone on righteous auto-pilot, weaponized minister level red, chucking out platitudes and placitudes like cards from a seasoned dealer and he might have had the whole church talking for his somewhat sheepish, breathless and bed-headed delivery of a sermon I don't think he prepared or remembered after the fact.

But we have no regrets because we're awful and we're all going to hell anyway, right? I asked him when he finally made it back to the point and he laughed.

Nope. Not a one. Don't worry though. I won't let you go there. I have an in. 

You think that will hold at this rate?

Good question.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Oh. My.

Got the coolest birthday present a girl could ask for and it's divided the entire house right down the middle.

Burning Man tickets. 

Yup.

I get to go FINALLY!

The list of people who are completely on board with that is exactly who'd you expect and the list of people who think it's a bad idea/dangerous/ridiculous is yup, exactly who you'd expect to be against it as well. The whole thing isn't up for debate and I'm already planning my wardrobe. August just laughed and laughed at my excitement and said Boots, a dust mask, goggles and very little else and you'll fit right in. 

OUTSTANDING! 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Birthday girl.

Summers come and go so fast
Close your eyes the moment's past
And another year is gone
We built our castles in the sand
The higher tide had other plans
But I'm still holding on
And love was a fragile song
When I wasn't looking another year slipped through my fingers and fell into the void and I stand on the edge wondering how I can be so foolish, how I'm still too busy falling in love every day to fall in line.

The Devil left us just before six, heading down the main staircase and outside around the front to the Boathouse, in order just to keep the peace if nothing else. God knows, we keep the war raging so much, it's nice to have a sea change. It's nice to have everyone set aside their fundamental not-that-different differences for the sake of a special occasion.

It's nice to be the focus for a good reason instead of for my mistakes. It's nice to be celebrated, not as God's grand experiment but instead as a girl who was born at sea level thirty-five minutes after midnight under the most stubborn star sign in the galaxy. I always live up to that label even as I can hardly reach or keep up the other ones.

Today I'll simply keep the label in my title, because it means cake later.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Zero, one, two, three (four days without you).

Ben came in and woke me up the hard way, lifting me out of bed while I was still asleep, heading for the door of our room, loudly proclaiming that the pool is ready and he knows how much I like to swim early.

Ben! Christ! I start laughing but now he's heading out the door. I need my swimsuit! Don't you dare go downstairs! 

Come on. I'll swim naked if you will. 

Sure, but I'm not parading through the house that way. 

We've done it before, he winks.

Did you clear the floor? (Meaning everyone is asked to leave the area so we can sneak through indisposed if necessary. It happens once or twice a year only, I swear.)

No, but I'm sure some of them have already seen what little you have to offer. 

WOW. 

I meant you're so little, they'll probably miss any really good parts. 

That isn't what you meant! Put me down! I need to go get my swimsuit and a hair tie.

SO MUCH TROUBLE. All this for a swim. He pretends to talk to his wrist. Plan Bee is a go. I repeat, plan Bee is a go.

Is there even water in the pool? 

Yes. The guys were here last night servicing the heater and getting it all ready. It should be full and warm already. 

Oh, I'm so down for this. 

Well, I thought you would be but we're still here talking about it.

Shut up and tie my bows, please? 

Thought you'd never ask. Let's get this show on the road. It's supposed to start raining at three.

I don't think we'll be outside until three. I haven't even had breakfast. 

I'll have PJ bring out something. 

Good luck pulling that off. 

For a shot at seeing you in your birthday suit? He'll do it. 

Conveniently, my birthday is tomorrow. 

NAKED ALL WEEKEND. 

YES-  WAIT, NO! 

TOO LATE, BUMBLEBEE! YOU AGREED!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Struck/stuck/FUCK.

Lying on the floor or in the grass looking up. That's where it's at. Inside, I can look at the tiny lights that crisscross plaster alabaster skies. Outside it's the real deal, stars millions of light years away, souls or planets or maybe both reminding me that I'm just one. Just small. Just quiet. Just here trying to find my way through when I can't navigate to save my soul. That's not a bad thing, as my soul is kept elsewhere anyway. I still have enough of it to be me but not enough of it to feel complete.

The dampness from the grass is seeping into my jeans and sweater. My toes are icy, my hair is in my eyes and yet I can't come in when they call me. I'm paralyzed by these stars, awed by my insignificance and loathe to turn off this song before it's finished, one earbud stuck firm into my skull, the notes stroking my brain, calming it from it's frenzied, endless screaming into a faint whimper no one can hear any more, least of all me. That's the important part. That's the part that methodically puts the pity in their eyes ahead of blatant want. That's the part that gives everyone pause enough to give me leeway far beyond what is average and latitude beyond measure.

Leave him there. Shut the door and don't listen anymore. Lochlan's words into the other half of my skull remain piled up against a door that won't open so he can't even get through. I need to save them from me. I need to protect them against this monster who looks so sweet even as she's sending them to their deaths, making them think too hard, feel too much, and love hopelessly, their faith mislodged in the wrong spirit, their mistakes hardly a blip on a radar that seems to point directly to me.

Stargazing and navel-gazing go hand in hand. My back is soaked. My hands are wet, leaving a streak of green across my cheek as I pull the hair out of my mouth. It's windy and beautiful tonight. It's loud on the inside, dark on the outside and perfect for Bridget. Just perfect.

I can't help it, I tell him and the despair on his face hammers me into the ground. I've got a good grip on the edge of this hole. As long as I can still see out I'll be just fine. As long as I can still see stars.
If I could
Yes I would
If I could
I would
Let it go

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Fight or...flight.

Hey. Jake is leaning against the jeep in the rays of light pouring in through the high windows in the garage doors. Legs crossed, all the time in the world. His white blonde beard and pale blue eyes make my whole body hurt for what I had once before it slipped right through my fingers and fell too many stories to survive.

(I wasn't there to save him but I would have saved him if he'd let me.)

I don't answer him. My throat is dry. I feign coolness and shrug with a little wave. My brain thinks WWDD? (What would Duncan do?) and I opt to fake it until I make it. It's a pointless funny little coping mechanism they suggested when I feel weird in any situation.

And it doesn't work.

Bridget...PJ? What's going on there?

I shrug again. This time it isn't fake because I have no idea either. He gets lonely too. And he's very very good to all of us but especially me so...I don't know. It's not hurting anyone. 

Lochlan? 

Since when have you ever cared how Lochlan felt about anything? 

I care about you and how he reacts to the things you do. 

My safety isn't in question.

He laughs harshly. It's hard to watch you someti-

Then look away. Like the rest do when they need to. 

Why haven't you read the letters?

Another shrug. I've been busy. (Busy trying to learn to live without you. Busy trying to juggle a houseful of men. Busy trying to forget they're waiting for me. Busy trying to stay out of the hole I keep falling into.)

Are you going to read them? 

You could just tell me what they say, if you're waiting for some moment of illumination here. 

I'd like you to take your time and read them at your own pace. 

Right so twelve years from now. I'm not so quick, Jakey. The tough-girl mask dissolves and behind it waits the twelve-year-old who didn't even know Jake and doesn't understand how they can hurt her and then stand there and feign innocence. It led to a huge label that she wears now as a grownup. Neamhchiontach. Innocent, in Gaelic, tattooed from shoulder to shoulder across her back, just so there's no mistake. But hurt is by degree, and that wasn't hurt. That was betrayal. This. This is hurt. This hurts so bad I can't even breathe anymore.

The tears drown me but at least I can swim now. Thanks, Sam.

I gotta go. 

Back to PJ? Or Caleb? Hell, pick someone. 

I DID BUT HE DIDN'T PICK ME. This is your fault. All of it. This is some sort of human safety net so I don't take the easy way out like you did. I ask for help and I get it. So don't you DARE stand there and pass judgment on me, you fucking selfish asshole! 

Moments like this are the ones that tell me you're really okay, Princess. 

Well you're wrong, because I'm not. 

Peanut? You okay? I could hear you yelling from the driveway. Lochlan's in the doorway. I turn back around but Jacob's gone.

Just blowing off steam. 

Come talk to me while I fix the fuel pump. I heard every word, Sweetheart. I don't think you're finished yet. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Commodified (I must look dumb.)

August said Mercury's retrograde in Aries will be over in a couple of days and things will be back to normal. I haven't felt like myself in spite of all efforts to get rest and slow down and be healthy. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough or maybe I should listen to doctors instead of hippie social workers. He gave me my horoscope for the month while drinking Kombucha and listening to Dope Lemon.

(Dope Lemon is the shit. Seriously. I could listen to their albums all day. Wait, I am. Nevermind.)

But watch out for Pluto, he says and I remember I'm supposed to be taking notes. I haven't heard a thing in between Mercury and Pluto but if my diligent attention back in my earlier years when Lochlan taught me outer space onsite is of any use, the parts I missed are Mars, Venus, Earth, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.

Hope I'm right.

I'll watch out for Pluto, I promise him instead and he smiles.

Good girl. 

***

The doctor came by anyway for the checkup he told me about two weeks ago that would happen this week but apparently I forgot. It's okay. We can look after it now, but here is also some correspondence from Mr. M_____. He hands me a smallish envelope. Bigger than a letter, smaller than a greeting card.

I get a good report. Blood tests because I look pale. More advice to take it easy, that I will indeed be very tired and low on energy and to eat well, drink lots and rest for a few more weeks. I nod soberly as if I'm totally doing all that. He says I'll be called with the results but to continue getting better. That pneumonia has a way of coming back around to wallop people. Though he didn't say wallop, I just envisioned this big black creature turning around, marching back and smacking me to the ground, where I'll writhe helplessly, trapped in a huge blob of translucent phlegm.

Yum.

When he goes to give Caleb all of the private details of my checkup I open the envelope. It is indeed from Mr. M himself. Not from his secretary or his assistant either. He wants to know how I am feeling, that he's sorry to hear I'm under the weather and that if he can do anything, he's enclosed his private number, once again, on the card with this letter, to call him if I need anything.

Right.

Yeah. No.