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.
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.