Saturday, 25 February 2017

No in-between.

The dead reign in the Godless dark
He wants the pedestal and he's lucky if he gets one night instead. I don't know what he gave me but I like it. I like trying to worry and not being able to. I like not being afraid. I like the sharp clarity of my daydreams and I like that I slept for seven hours straight, here and then woke up without feeling like I needed a running start just to open my eyes. There is noise I can hear save for light rain on the skylights and his quiet, even breathing.

He left a fire burning so I'm not cold this time. No more slip-ups. No more pink pajamas and helpless child-Bridget. No more abject disapproval from the rest. Mild distrust remains and now the only argument fought is over time. It seems as if there is too much. I get into trouble. I can work myself up. I think too hard. I can't distract myself from within boredom. I have too many hours to fill and then suddenly I blink and it's Saturday and there are civilized negotiations (She isn't going to August. I'll burn the loft down and you can take the blame for it but she isn't going. Not today.) and not a moment to breathe.

My tension awakens him and he moves closer without opening his eyes.

You never sleep, he says.

(Observation is the purest form of obsession, I guess.)

No, I say simply.

Why?

Death frightens me. 

What else? 

I shouldn't be here. 

Where should you be? 

Looking after Lochlan. 

He's sleeping too. He needs more sleep to heal. This is a good thing. 

His logic is unarguable. I close my eyes again and he pulls me in tighter. His skin is warm. He tucks his face down against my cheek and my cheek reddens from the razor stubble on his face.

Ow. 

So fragile, he says in almost-sleep.

Grow a beard! I complain and he laughs.

Maybe I will. But then I have meetings and I feel like a savage. 

Savage in a three-piece suit. It's a look, you know-

Aaaaaannnd she's awake. 

Inevitable, Diabhal. 

Like the tides, Neamhchiontach. Run along home and nurse your Dóiteáne back to health. I'll come visit later and bring him some treats. 

French fries? 

What? No. What is with your McDonalds love?

I don't even get fries any more. They have breakfast ALL DAY now, did you know that? 

Yes, you've told me eighteen or forty times. 

Because it's AWESOME.

Friday, 24 February 2017

In the woods by the sea.

(Nothing here is new.)

I'm trying to deep-breath it, trying to find the way back when my mind takes off running down any road that leads to Jake. Trying to separate the man who is here (August) from the man who is not (Jacob) and the extent of what pretending has done for my mental health thus far.

I've been absolved of what they thought was some sort of attempt to drown myself. I just wanted to feel the cold, feel the rain, be near the sea but there's in or out and I screwed up.

And no, Andrew and Christian's little surface love affair (or so they make it out to be) didn't set me off. Something else did. And that's okay. That's going to happen sometimes. I'm going to reel and yaw from things I can't control, things I find, things people say and do. It's how I react that makes the difference.

And I'm a runner.

Flight. I turn and take off. That's the plan. That's been the plan since I was young and it was drilled into my head:

If you get caught, Peanut, break free and run. 

If you feel scared, run and find me. 

If you need me, run and fetch me. 

And then later:

If you feel overwhelmed, running is good to clear your mind. 

And on and on. Now there's only so many places to run, and I am housebound and mostly feverish with cabins and claustrophobia and the general weirdness of being packed into the side of this hill with the parking lot out front and the houses peppered across the hills like afterthoughts and most of the time the beach, the ocean is the only release from that but it's not enough here. I can go down when I need to and survey my flat watery kingdom for miles and then I turn and everything catches up with me.

I made August into a clone of Jacob. I put him up on a pedestal and I demanded things of him he shouldn't have had to deal with and yet he keeps me in check. He pushes me away. He leaves in perfectly healthy intervals and it somehow destroys me, dredging up all of the heavy weight I'm always trying to shrug off so I can just keep running.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Charm and timing too.

On the upside, it wasn't a bone sticking out of Lochlan's sleeve, but the shredded sleeve of the white thermal long-sleeved shirt he was wearing underneath his flannel shirt. His sleeves were mangled as his arm hit the overcropping rock on the way in.

On the downside, he sliced his forearm open quite significantly. The doctor is more worried about infection, concerned as Lochlan holds at 103 degrees and I tried to tell them that's his resting temperature, that he's fire and the doctor just looked at me strange and upped his meds again. Lochlan refuses to get xrays and says his arm is just sore. It's probably broken again so we'll just wait him out.

 I'm being observed as it is because I lost consciousness under water (new personal best). Also I have eleven stitches in my shoulder and three at my hairline because of the same rock.

No one gave me any drugs though. PJ gave me a shot of vodka in the kitchen and then poured one over each wound as he stitched them himself. He asked me twenty questions and decided I didn't have a head injury but in any case I'll be watched closely. PJ should have been a crack ER doctor. Or maybe he is. Really good under pressure. I offered up duct tape and then the staple gun as alternatives to his sewing skills (my skills are better in flesh and in fabric) but he told me to shut the fuck up and take it like a man.

Indeed.

The beach from the driftwood house to the breakwater is off limits to me for life, Sam has been deemed completely compromised (I'll fight this later. It was Dalton who absently told me Cool when I told him I was going to the beach with Ben, who wasn't even home at the time or he would have gone with me whether I wanted him to or didn't) and August says he should have stayed on the East coast longer, as it's so much calmer than this.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Kites.

(Blame was laid thickly yesterday. The shouting carried across the water, fists flew, opinions were shoved to the floor and trampled on, kicked and beaten down. When the breaths came more ragged and the limbs were sore from the fight reason prevailed.

I am the only one at fault. Earn enough trust and become the only word necessary when I tell one that another will join me in my explorations, that everything is fine, that I have my world under control when in truth I'm clinging to the edge with whitened fingertips, feeling pure terror as it speeds up.)

I just wanted some time to myself. Maybe I still had my pride wounded by Christian's stinging words, maybe it's worth more to be able to think for five minutes without someone asking how I am. Maybe time isn't up, maybe there is no measure of time and there doesn't have to be improvement. Maybe I can wallow. Maybe I can just look out at the water and miss Jake without anyone trying to fix it.

I climbed up the rocks to the top and looked out over a roiling grey surface. It's raining. I wobble once and then before the alarm can even register I'm in the sea. On the wrong side of the breakwater where it's deep. I hit my head on the rocks beneath the surface, never even having time to register that I would never be able to defend myself against this. That they would think I did it on purpose. That I probably would have, save for the fact that I can't.

Lochlan hit the water at a thousand miles an hour, they say, drowning his flames, landing directly on me, knocking out whatever breath I had left, lifting me up out of the water with his bad arm before realizing he broke it again on the way in, smashing it hard on the same place I smashed my little head. August took me from Lochlan and then PJ pulled Lochlan out. That was the cold damp flannel. The voice I heard. It was August bringing me back to life while I continued to fight to swim to wherever Jake was, except he isn't there anyway and it was a wasted rescue. Lochlan finally can't take it anymore and shoves in to cradle my head. My eyes are cloudy and red. My throat aches so bad. My limbs feel like concrete. He clutches his arm against his side. There's a bone sticking out of his arm, right through his sleeve. He's bleeding everywhere. PJ swears. Lochlan laughs and swears back. Then he looks down at me again. He isn't laughing.

Where were you going?

I shake my head. It doesn't matter what I say. There's no right answer. Nothing I can say that will save his heart from breaking. Nothing we can do to prevent this inevitable return to form in spite of best efforts. No amount of time is fixing this. Everything is a distraction. Eventually the glare returns and I squint at reality. I can make this Utopia virtually bulletproof and Jacob still kills me every single day.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Life among the dead.

It was the smell that triggered a fresh wave of heartbreak, a nostalgic ache that brought me to the ground where I remained on my knees, wet earth soaking into my skin, no desire to keep moving, no light to do it in.

I sank down into the water as it rose, rushing across the crumbling concrete, bringing with it waterlogged leaves and matchstick branches, washing over the moss in a torrent of spring.

I hear Sam's reminders in my head but they don't mean a thing. These are my tears. I'm going to drown. I can't control this. I can't catch my breath. Can't move. Can't recover. Can't talk myself out of it. Can't wait to die. Can't cope with him not being here. Ashamed of myself. Desperate. Ruined.

I squeeze my eyes closed. It's raining so hard now. Everything is blackened and dim, muted by the storm I made as I lay down with my cheek against the hard surface. My blood pounds against my broken heart in a bid to run but it's rejected out of hand. Water rushes over my mouth and nose. I close my eyes and give in. It's not so cold when you stop fighting. Air is relative if you can't breathe on a perfectly sunny, warm day so what difference does it make if you can't breathe here either. The torrent of water is welcoming, blocking out the rest of the sound and then the light too. Maybe if I wait here long enough I can see Jacob. Just for a minute or two.

I am lifted out of the water violently. I gasp and start to cough and hands pound hard against my back. Jacob is shouting my name. Eventually I stop coughing and all of the water leaves my body just as the shivering kicks in. I am turned back against Jacob's chest, resting my head against icy cold, damp flannel as he asks in his accent thicker than this water, thicker than my blood, why I didn't call someone for help.

Because I wanted you. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Can't charm them all.

I've known Andrew since I was three years old, and Christian since I was almost as small (since I met Lochlan, Caleb and Christian all on the same night at the street party when I got dinged in the head and ruined someone's street hockey power play.)

The two of them caught up with me last evening. These days I'm probably closer to Christian than to Andrew overall. Andrew exists on the fringe and never says a thing about his love life. I've often worried that he might be turning monkish. Christian has always made a point that his love life was off limits. He said decades ago he wasn't going to mess with me because I'm too much trouble and that he would always and forever function as a big brother, nothing more. He's gotten in trouble for pranking me and he never lets up. He's hard on me because no one else is and silly me, I thought last night might be an exception.

This is none of your business, Bridget. 

Two of my best friends in the world are in love and it's not? We should be celebrating. Also how am I the last one to know.

I just told you. It's none of your business what I do outside of time with you. I live here. I pay rent. That doesn't give you a free window into everything I do.

So we're not friends. I'm just the landlady. 

I didn't say that. But you don't need a front row seat to my private life. 

If you don't tell me you're dating another good friend but the rest of the point knows, then it's withholding on purpose, just from me.  Why? 

Because you romanticize everything. 

Because it's romantic! 

What if it isn't? 

You're going to stand here next to one another and tell me you're casually hooking up. You're going to dismiss all of the attraction, the emotion that put you together in the first place. 

Sometimes it is what it looks like. 

It looks to me like you're falling in lo-

Bridget, stop it! Accept that people just do things. Like you and Duncan. Are you in love with him? 

Of course I am. 

Then you're different than every other person on this earth.

He tried to soften the whole thing with a hug but I was a stiff as a board and in tears. I don't know what's wrong with me but apparently it's wrong. If it is, I don't ever want to be right. Also it really really sucks to be on the outside.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Closet Jesus.

Must be Sunday, and I'm still somewhat surprised.

At Sam as he's gone from an emotional riptide sort of person to centered and together. Calm. Methodical. relaxed. Oddly fine. Gone is the vunerability, the shakiness, the heart on his sleeve. He's just Sam again. Like he was in the beginning. A mystery. A kind one, mind you but somewhere after Jake he let me in, let me see everything, even right through him sometimes and now he's the voice of reason after being a liability for years. Interesting. He gave a rip-roar of a sermon this morning but I was looking out the window at the rain and thinking very hard and missed the message for you.

Lochlan made a few great guesses about things like sexual orientation, second puberty and midlife crises, maybe it was a combination of all three but as much as I love blown-apart Sam for his honesty, I adore in-charge Sam because I have a thing for authority in God form.

I guess that's what you'd call it. I don't know. I tune out sometimes when I should probably pay attention to things going on around me.

After we got home from early church I went over to give Andrew a game that he wanted to borrow from Henry's playstation. Bloodborne or something I think and as per tradition, I neither knocked nor rang a bell. I let myself in with the key they gave me, announced myself a few times as the house was quiet and went upstairs. I knocked on Andrew's door twice softly. He never answered so I opened it, intending to wake him up (it's after eleven and he is not a sleeper) and leave the game on his nightstand. I've known Andrew my entire life, from diapers but apparently I didn't know him at all.

He wasn't there so I left the game on his perfectly-made bed and came back out, closing the door again behind me, just as Christian's door opened and Andrew came out in his robe.

AH. Hey, Bridget. (Too bright.)

Morning. I left the game for you. It's on your bed. Sorry, I thought you'd be up by now. 

Oh. Yes, I am. I'm up, I mean.

Then Christian comes out behind Andrew in his robe too. He won't look me in the eye for a long minute before he says good morning. He doesn't need to. I think I understand.

Okay then. Holy shit.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

On the phone with the Devil on a Saturday morning.

Had a brain skip this morning, attributing a piece by Blake to Burroughs. Lochlan snorted (he taught me all these words that I love so) and then apologized because I was still under the influence. I told all this to Caleb on the phone, as I slept in and was loathe to move.

Of whom? 

Huh?

Who's influence were you under? Lochlan's or maybe Sam's? 

Drugs. It was the drugs. 

I believe your drugs are men. 

You aren't wrong but I can't take a man to get a good night's...oh, wait. You're right. I can totally do that. 

Why is Sam taking up space meant for me? 

There's enough space to go around. I mean just look up. So much of it is empty. I mean, when you think about it, the stars are fairly small so it's just....well...space. Empty space. No air, right so...space. 

Bridget, what is wrong with you? 

Well, if I had taken a man or two last night instead of those stupid pills I would be able to think properly. 

Where on earth is your husband?

Sleeping. 

He does that a lot. What about Ben? 

He was working downstairs. 

Sam?

He's not here every night, you know. 

I wish I had known. I could have entertained you. 

I told you, I was drugged. Or rather, I took something to sleep. Well, PJ gave it to me. I had to ask. Then it went to a committee vote. 

What a waste of a night. 

Oh, no it wasn't. We need more sleep. 

You could have come over before it took effect. 

No, because Lochlan sleeps with his arms..well, I mean, I'm..I can't get away from him in his sleep. He holds on very tightly. I love it, actually. 

Being trapped and drugged by your husband? 

You make it sound so awful. Someone giving you a sleep aid and holding you close while you both sleep is the most romantic thing in the world. 

Until I do it. 

Yes, until you do it. Then it's a sinister kidnapping adventure. 

I'm sorry, what did you call it? 

Nothing. I said I should go now, I have to call my sister.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Lightyears and longhauls.

Sam put a Jesus fish sticker on my Porsche.

(Caleb was unimpressed.)

I woke up with a fourth today as the horizontal parade renews itself with some sort of merit-based system that finds the baby preacher in the big bed upstairs..more often than not. His huge wing is sort of upstairs anyway (well, halfway between the top floor and the main floor) but you have to go all the way to the other side of the top floor, through a set of french doors, down some steps and around a corner. Our room has it's own wing with closets outside the door and inside the room too and then past ours the children share a wing with yet another bathroom between their rooms.

Sam has been a security blanket since the day Jacob left and now with August away too I'm holding on so tightly he wasn't allowed to do anything but come with me. We have room. They love him too.

He mentioned something about Grace in the dark. Grace is an excuse. I keep thinking it means to act up now and make up later with no recourse because God still loves you even if you're a big jerk. He keeps telling me it means God loves you in spite of your bad choices and you should work to earn that love. To be worthy

What does that make this? I ask and he asks if we can not have this conversation right now. Instead he kisses my shoulder and puts his head down against mine. Lochlan stirs in his sleep and Sam reaches across me to rest his hand against Lochlan's shoulder. Not so much a romantic gesture, more of a spiritual one, blessing him so that Lochlan will be as open with his faith as he is with his wife and his bed.

(I'm not the prize here, I'm a means to an end. Or maybe I'm the end of his rope. I was hoping I would be the apple of his eye and then God would notice me.)

Sam's going to save everyone. I know it. It's why Jacob left him for me. It's why I can't make him leave and instead he's becoming such a huge part of my life it's hard to see past him. It's hard to separate the message from the messenger. I don't think this is a bad thing. He holds back sometimes because he thinks it is. It causes arguments and ruffles feathers and turns freaks into ascetics and vice versa but at the same time at the bottom of this hole, at the end of the long dark night it's necessary, but it's not evil in nature. It's a foundation we were looking for, one we destroyed and one we're trying to learn how to rebuild together. Even Ben likes having him here but Ben likes having everyone here as long as it makes me feel better.

Maybe he should put the Jesus fish on my forehead. It's shiny and I'd get noticed for sure and maybe even get a little Grace for myself.

You have it already, Sam says sleepily. Twenty bucks says under those lids his eyes are rolling.

Liar! I whisper.

Lochlan stirs in the new day. Shhh, Fidget. Sleep s'more. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Maudlin baby bright.

The running joke around the house these days is that English is my second language. Fun fact: it actually is, in written/read form. Who knew?

Well, everyone here did but you didn't. I learned to read and write in French before English. I pronounce many words rather creatively as a result and can't spell a lot of words that I should have no problem with save for they're in English and needlessly complicated. I also have good working use of several other completely useless but crushingly romantic languages from which to choose though most of the time I'm a mumbling, silent and mostly completely oblivious little shit.

(That last part is Dalton's depiction of me. It's not wrong so in it stays.)

The joke came from the fact that something's happened at Apple and we can no longer text each other with ease. I think it's from the last update but I used to be able to mash the keyboard and it would spit out exactly what I needed to say without me having to spell or fix a thing. Now it just sends gibberish. It's so awful it's become funny. Caleb implores me to go back to the Blackberry but the iphone is still more fun overall, even in spite of the virtually unusable keyboard. And I have tiny fingertips. Imagine the boys with their big paws.

This isn't even the main part of my post and I'm already rambling. Christ.

***

This is how I know he's not going to work with them. He's going to hold his own instead. 'His own' being me.

He slides a small box across the table after our plates have been cleared.

Diabhal-

Neamhchiontach, this is how it works. If we are in a sanctioned, public relationship, I'm permitted to give you gifts. 

Yes, but-

And just because he doesn't have the means I do doesn't mean I need to procure anything less than what I would chose for you any other time. I'm not going to bring down my levels to his simply because that's where he is. That doesn't make any sense. 

Well, you also can't leapfrog over-

Just open it, Babydoll. Please. 

I follow every direction he gives me. Always have (Hands behind your back, Neamhchiontach).  Inside is a beautiful necklace. Gold with a tiny heart-shaped frame filled with a pale green faceted stone attached to the chain on both sides of the tiny heart rather than from a single apex at the top. It's very delicate and beautiful. The nicest shade of pale emerald. Almost sage.

It is an emerald, he confirms. Probably worthless now that I've had it cut but it suits you. 

Oh. This is- Wow. 

Do you think it's too much, and Lochlan is going to pitch a fit? 

He will. 

Then send him my way and I'll explain. I want you to wear it, Neamhchiontach. Wear it because it's your heart instead of someone else's. Wear it in the garden, in the sea, in his arms and in mine. Keep it on. 

He stood up and came around the table, taking the necklace from me, attaching the clasp behind my neck.

It brings out the colors in your butterflies.

I look down and I see tattoos but I can't see the necklace and that's funny.

I like seeing you happy. 

You're behaving. 

It shouldn't be contingent on me. 

My face falls. But it is. This is by your design, Diabhal. 

Then we'll rework it for today and tomorrow. This can be the first day. 

That was in August.

That wasn't me.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

About last night.

We didn't get our romantic dinner for three. I went under thanks to some mixup in communication over when I had last been medicated and missed the night completely. I woke up and my dress and shoes were still ready to go in the door of the closet.

Lochlan forfeited a princely sum to cancel the reservation on short notice and so Ben sprang for a pizza which they ate together while watching movies with PJ and Sam, while I snoozed upstairs. Someone came up every hour to check on me just in case but I wasn't in danger, I just fall asleep if the last dose hasn't worn completely off by the time I get a new one.

Sigh.

No amount of begging on my part has allowed for a do-over in spite of the fact that it wasn't even my fault, as I don't get to dispense my own meds anyway. So I don't get my fancy Valentine dinner, didn't get any pizza, and didn't get to wear that red dress.

Caleb was happy to offer to fly me somewhere (my choice) for a romantic belated dinner. I rolled my eyes and told him he isn't allowed to preempt anyone who lives in the house.

PJ showed me his Tinder date that never happened. She was barely a she, he said, and he got spooked and left her (him?) sitting at the bar. Says he lives with enough guys to know a guy when he sees one, and is giving up on finding a date for any holiday forever.

I pointed out how cute Sam is and PJ threw a piece of toast at me. Crabby Paddy.

(He threw it underhand, at least. That's important in this house. The throwing technique signifies intent. Underhand is mildly annoyed. Overhand is downright rage.)

Sam pointed out that PJ is indeed cute but his behaviour yesterday morning wasn't cute or helpful. PJ offered to suck his dick for him (gross and also only a joke) to make it up to him. Sam declined.

(I didn't expect him to decline that, in spite of it not being a serious offer or the least bit civilized. Oh well. The things you hope for when you're trapped in a house with a bunch of manboys.)

August got an update and threatened to fly back. From now on only PJ is allowed to dispense anything for anyone, no matter what.

PJ asked for a raise.

I gave him one. Happy belated Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Cole-fired furnace.

Trying to make it to six pm. I woke up on the wrong side of myself and can't seem to get my act together. By nine Ben stepped in with fresh arms, a Xanax for me to take and an offer to go hang out in the sauna for a little while and then get ready for the day. I snapped at PJ, hung up on Caleb, cried for Lochlan to hurry up and come home and then the pill kicked in or the heat or maybe the coffee and I feel like a turtle now, only with a mild undercurrent of screaming noises dulled by every other effort to see this through.

Caleb came over when he saw us heading back to the house in our pool robes.

Everything okay?

Bad day, I tell him. I'm so informative. Useful. My lip is quivering and I'm trying not to cry and I just want to curl up and dissolve. Ben hasn't let go and won't let go. Lochlan's working double-speed and trying to call in reinforcements. PJ deservedly told me to go fuck myself and took off for the day, since it's Valentine's Day and he was put off to begin with and Sam is hovering like a bumblebee, trying to be near if we need him and away if we don't. August left for the East Coast before the storm. Duncan and Dalton are probably both sleeping.

And I have lost my mind.

Maybe we should watch a television show, maybe distract her just a little bit. 

Too far for that now, Ben says quietly, as if I'm not even present.

You need to go. You look too much like your brother today, I tell Caleb. Part of this was a valentine memory that came raging back at me in my dreams last night and I woke up unsettled and afraid, dreading breathing. Dreading standing up. Ben's policy is one foot in front of the other. One day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time.

Caleb nodded at Ben and Ben tightened his hold on me and I asked if we could have a walk on the beach once we got ready.

See if I let you out of the shower, Ben smiles. He's up to no good. He's the king of distractions and sometimes immersion. Whatever works. Get through it and then figure out what it was and what worked or didn't but right in the middle is not the time and while that seems incredibly logical, no one else subscribes to that method and so he's just as thrilled to be taking charge and I'm grateful it's him and not Lochlan, honestly. Lochlan takes it personally. He takes everything so hard.

The shower was long and hotter than the sauna by far. I felt like I couldn't get enough air and Ben held me tight, washing my hair from within his arms, scrubbing me all over and then lifting me up against the wall. His visceral distractions worked wonders and by the time he switched us to cooler water so we could rinse I felt somewhat renewed. I need sleep and maybe a stiff drink but I don't feel like the world is coming apart at the seams right this minute. We went down to the beach, joined by Caleb again (to prove he's no one but himself) and by Christian, who said I was fast and tricky and Ben puts too much faith in my promises while Christian always expects me to run right off the rocks. So all three hovered while I bent low at the water's edge to find a few treasures but it was suddenly cold and I didn't want them to worry so much so we came back up quickly enough. Then Ben went to a meeting and left me with Sam (because I had to ask Caleb to go again) and Christian for a bit and I mostly read while they ignored me, ears open, ready to move but otherwise content to catch up with each other.

I fell asleep halfway down every page but I stopped thinking about Cole and then Jake too and by the time I finished the chapter Lochlan was back and promising that from now on he'll wake me up before he leaves, that he can make sure I'm okay before he's gone off somewhere. I try to tell him that Ben did really good, that Ben always does well with me but Lochlan's guilt won't let him listen hard enough. He holds me close and then shakes Ben's hand when Ben comes back and they both say that dinner will be fun, that the day will get better. That nervous fake assurance that no one ever believes but everyone invokes all the same. Maybe it works anyway.

I know it will. It already has, actually. I just wish my brain had an off-switch, and that my memory had cloud storage. So I could keep it all offsite until I decided that I wanted something, instead of being ambushed by it.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Troika.

Lochlan said he's made reservations for tomorrow night at a very romantic restaurant. For three of us! Yeah!

I thought our romantic dinner was last evening.

What? No, that was our Nostalgic dinner.

Ah. I was wondering why you cut up my chicken for me. 

I did that because bowls and knives don't usually work well together. 

Lochlan, I'm forty-five. 

Don't remind me. 

Someone should. 

You want to go out for Valentine's Day or not? 

I do! I'm excited. Are we dressing up? 

If you like. 

Does Ben know? 

Yes, he and I chose the restaurant together. 

I smile.

You're excited, Peanut. 

Of course I am! When we get formal, I know we're serious. 

Then we'll dress to the nines. Although I don't think my wardrobe goes past seven. Maybe six and a half.

Wear your top hat. Then it all goes to eleven. 

Let's dress to the eight-and-three-quarters. Then we're safe. 

But will you wear the hat?

If you want me to. 

Of course I do. Jesus. Have you met me? I love that hat. 

Yeah, you're the only girl who ever did. 

Is that why you married me? 

Of course it is. That and you make me look positively normal in comparison. 

So you think, Lochlan. 

I don't look normal? 

The question is, do you feel normal? 

Hardly never, Peanut. 

Then there's your answer.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Rituals.

We made dinner last night. By candlelight. Two burners, two pans. An old favorite comfort routine brought forward by pushing everything else back. Battered emergency candles. Mismatched cutlery. Paper towels folded nicely for napkins. Chicken breasts stuffed with mushrooms, cheese and parsley and potatoes boiled in the skin, plus carrot sticks, served in a cereal bowl.

It's one of the very first romantic dinners we ever shared together in the camper when I was around eleven and one we try to find a chance to recreate a few times a year. The caveat is we no longer steal the chicken (from the grocery store) or the potatoes (from a field) and we tend to use real marbled cheddar now instead of Kraft cheese product slices. Oh, and we have parsley which never actually existed in the camper timeline. We've also added a bottle of wine more often than not (but no glasswear because we're sideshow heathens) and the elbow room required to make the meal is a little more generous than it was but the end result is the same.

Special.

Just for us.

Lochlan surprised me with roses when he came home. I already had the chicken breasts stuffed and was struggling to open the wine. The kitchen was off-limits to everyone else, the house reminded to use either the front or the patio door and not to bother us. No one did. We took the wine, left the dishes and came upstairs, where Lochlan finished the bottle and I fell asleep early in his arms. He put his head down against mine and said quietly that if he were to be honest, he would tell me he really liked the Kraft cheese better than the real cheddar in the chicken.

I am surprised. So did I. It's just...creamier somehow. Less rich. 

Yeah! Exactly. And we nodded at the ceiling because we'll make it the old way from now on.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Speaking of markers..

We went to see John Wick 2 this afternoon. Every man in this house regrets his life decision not to become an assassin and I think I need a job working in Accounts Receivable as an operator at the Continental.

It was awesome. Go see it.


Friday, 10 February 2017

Cabin-fevered afternoons.

Lochlan is mad, but he assures me he's mad at himself and pretty mad at Duncan too but not at me.

(I feel like that's misdirected.)

But I couldn't talk about it, because once Lochlan let me up for air (because he hides his ego in the strangest places and when you least expect it he reveals it to you like a rabbit from a hat) Batman called and I had to go to work, putting in my ten hours hours for the week because I haven't been lately but he's been continuing to pay me.

You should stop that, I tell him in between filing and cross-checking invoices. (Who are all these people and what do they do?)

That is your regular stipend and not your salary. I don't give you a salary if you don't show up. Don't you check that account?

If it's just sugar then no, I don't. 

How much is there? 

How much have you put in? 

He puts down all of his papers in surprise.

Don't look at me like that. We've had this conversation before. I told you I haven't touched it. 

I thought you were being demure. 

Who, me?

Yes, just like that. 

No, I was being honest. I don't have to act. It's just what comes out. 

Are you that ridiculously casual about your money? Now I understand why you left Caleb to sort out his transfers. 

That's a whole different subject. 

Apparently not. 

I know what's there. I just haven't touched it. 

Why not? 

The minute I do I have...obligations. Right now I can call the shots with you.

You think if you spend the money you can't call the shots with me? 

Most definitely not. Then it's ownership. This way I can throw it all back in your face and say no to whatever I want. 

You can say no to anything. I'm not Caleb. But I'll double what's there if you leave the rest of them alone. 

I beg your pardon? 

Loch, Ben and Caleb. That's your triad. Nothing with anyone else. Unless you want to visit me, that is.

If you're serious, I'm leaving. 

Consider it. It's an easy way to double your money. And that's just what's from me. 

If you care about Lochlan so much maybe you should try touching him. I smile big. He's glorious. 

Right so why Duncan? 

I have issues. 

I think the word you're looking for is 'excuses'. 

Should I throw the money back at you now and walk out or do you need me to go to the bank and physically bring it here to throw it at you and leave? Because I'm up for either. 

Touchy. 

Just because I write it down doesn't mean it's up for discussion.

Then what on earth is it there for? 

I told you. I'm insane. Some people rock back and forth. I write it right out of my head. If you think because I'm functional I must be fine then keep your fucking money. I've got bigger things to worry about. 

You definitely do. 

I'm going to go get it and throw it at you. Overhand. 

Look, Bridget, my own reasoning will correct me on this before you make it to the door. Will you accept my apologies for the sour grapes that they are? 

Can we please just change the subject?

What would you like to talk about?

You have lots of money. Can you put Eco-Challenge back on television? 

What a strange request, Bridget.

It isn't really, but I do have some weird ones if you're interested. 

Oh! Write them down already and we'll go over them. I'll go put on some coffee.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Forewarmed.

My heart jumped a thousand feet in the dark. I went all the way down to get a glass of orange juice when I should have been trying to sleep, and when I walked into the kitchen there was a man standing in the light of the patio door, looking out.

Poem, said Duncan and my heart slowed briefly. Come see this rain. 

I dutifully abandoned my juice plan and went to the big glass doors to see. He was right. It was a wall of steady water, as if we suddenly were in a secret lair underneath a waterfall, like spies. It wasn't the usual rain, instead a windless deluge. Had we been outside we would have been soaked to the skin in seconds.

Wow, I tell him. Cozy though. 

He nods. Depends. 

On?

Whether or not you're alone. 

You can come upstairs, you know. 

Or you can come down with me. You know I like to be alone. He laughs so gently I don't know if he's teasing me or embarrassed.

If you want to be alone I can't come with you. I lob his joke back equally gently, underhand.

He catches it. I don't want to be alone, Bridge.

I follow him through the house in the dim grey light, the nighttime sounds of the house dwarfed by the rain pounding down. It gets quieter as we go downstairs and then loud again once we're behind closed doors because his windows are open slightly. He turns around to face me, pulls his shirt off and then pulls mine off too. His hands come up around my head as he kisses me hard, walking me backwards until the backs of my legs touch the bed. He pushes me straight down and then pulls off my pajama pants and steps out of his own. His room is warm and cozy but I'm a map of goosebumps.

He wastes no time at all getting down to his knees and I twist my fingers in his hair, trying to hold him in one place and pull him up to me at the same time. My back arches off the bed and he reaches up to cover my mouth as I cry out but then his weight is on me. He turns over onto his back, leaning back against the pillows, pulling me in tight against his chest, almost sitting up but far more leisurely and hot as fuck. It feels incredible, unfamiliar and really really good but it hurts too and I have to ask him twice to let up a little. I know they can't help it. He finally ignores me and goes over the edge, drowning in the sound of rain. His hands remain tightened around my hips. His arms stay locked. But his face is a wash of relief.

So sweet, he says.

I nod. You are. 

Stay and sleep? (One thing almost every man has in common, they want to nap afterward forever. It's maddening.)

I shake my head. I need to go get my juice. 

I thought you weren't going to come to me ever again. 

I thought about that. 

What changed your mind? 

You didn't ask. You waited for an offer. 

Lochlan's going to be pissed. 

He'll be fine. 

He's pissed at August. 

I go there too much. 

How much?

Way too much. 

How much is way too much?

More than Lochlan likes. 

I get it. You keep your cards close enough to keep us guessing so what's one more mystery? Okay, get out then. He smiles but my whole face falls. Those words are starting to make me feel so sad.

What'd I say? 

Nothing. Get some sleep. I'm going back up. 

Need me to walk you back? 

I think I'm safe in my own house. 

You think you are. You probably aren't though. 

I didn't ask what he meant, because by the time I thought through his reply his eyes were closed. I closed the doors quietly as I left, making my way back upstairs to the kitchen, where I opened the fridge and drank directly from the orange juice carton. When I closed the fridge door Caleb was standing behind it.

FUCK!

Have a midnight stroll, Neamhchiontach? 

Just thirsty. Lochlan's waiting for me. I turn to go back upstairs.

Does he know about all of the different places you go when you're thirsty? 

Go home. It's late.

Contrary to that view, it's early! Early bird gets the worm, or I guess in this case she gets her Poet. 

Jealousy is a horrible colour on you. 

On everyone.

Yes. 


Then stop making us work so hard for your affection while those of no consequence step in and get it for free.

Maybe this is none of your business. 

What if it is? 

Then I guess you'll have to deal with it because I'm going to bed. Also I'd like my key back. You don't need to be lurking around the house this time of night. 

Then tell your friends to lock the door. 

Great. I'll do that. 

Think the monsters live outside of this house, Bridget? Think again. He opens the door, blows me a kiss and steps out into the downpour. I lock the door behind him.

Second warning, same night. Guess who's not sleeping now?

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The space between us.

They don't know my heart
I decided this week that Starset's Ricochet might be my favorite song in the world right at this moment in time. It starts a bit weak but then from 2:30 into the song onwards it's magnificent. My brain screams along with them right through the piano notes at the end.

So beautiful.

***

He founders for a place to lay his blame. It's heavy.

Good morning, I said to his closed eyes. He's awake. Just 'resting', as he always used to tell me he was doing when I would find him flat on his back in a field in the shade of a half-assembled ride, his baseball hat down over his whole face, curls fanning out like the tentacles of an octopus around his head.

Tell me you didn't just melt my eyebrows off with your dragon breath, Bridgie.

I can't do that, Locket. You're going to look permanently annoyed. 

I think I do that anyway. He laughs, still without opening his eyes. It's only because of your morning breath though. 

I can wake up elsewhere. It was a harmless comeback but once it was out I couldn't put it back. His eyes are now open, the jealousy volcano is filling up and ready to erupt and yes, he looks permanently annoyed.

Where would you wake up? 

On the kitchen floor? So I don't irritate you with my breath. I'm trying to save the mood but it's gone.

You think August pushes you out abruptly, go try this breath on him and see yourself outside in minutes. 

This has nothing to do with Au-

This has everything to do with him! 

I'm listening. I roll onto my back and wait for him to spew his green lava everywhere. I wait to be condemned by it, buried in it, burned in it and reborn from it as new. I have to find the silver for all the hot rocks or it would destroy me too.

He's not helping you, Bridget. He's making it worse. 

I wait. If I defend, I'm guilty. If I attack, ruined. I lie there in the ash and smoulder like the good little firebaby that I am.

He's got you wound up in some guise of helping you but at the same time he takes whatever he wants and then just pushes you right out the door. Sam said you were acting strange before I came in. I refuse to let anyone set you back. I don't know what he's doing. 

Have you talked to him? (Good girl, Bridget, just shut your mouth, oh shut it, baby, don't say too much)

No. He's not going to tell me the truth. 

Then you can't give weight to fears and ideas. That's what you tell me. 

He nods and closes his eyes again. I know. I don't want anyone to touch you but if they're going to anyway I don't want them to hurt you. Your heart or your body. 

No one can hurt either. 

But you're glass, he whispers.

August isn't your enemy, Loch. 

I know, but Jake is, and August is the closest thing to him that I have. 

That's why I go.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

BUSY.

Today was the calm before the next storm, getting out and getting groceries, gas and cash while the sun shone. I really really wanted an espresso but I didn't feel like going in to a restaurant and really I don't know if coffee shops do that to go, or if they're all fancy mixed coffees or what have you. I don't get them. I just want a tiny cup of really strong coffee. Actually scratch that, I just want my bed and a little more sleep. I have chocolate though. That will do!

Also Ben got a new medal this afternoon and gave it to me for safekeeping. He gave me a kiss too and said I was worth the fight. He makes me cry. I mean everything does but he is something else entirely sometimes. I kissed him back and he complained about snot levels on my face and so we agreed to wait until later to fool around.

Or he can just go ahead, because like I said. I'll be asleep. Maybe mid-chocolate like that one time I fell asleep holding a cookie and when I woke up the next morning, well, what a mess.

Okay, I lied.

It's happened a few times, actually.

Monday, 6 February 2017

One leads, one follows.

August loves the snow. When I arrive, he puts on all the tiny white lights and starts making hot chocolate. Then I get a hug and he does his signature move where he runs his hand over the back of my head as he lets go, always feeling for the hearing aids.

Rarely does he find them.

Today is no exception so he is sure to not ask questions if I'm not paying strict attention and he never talks as he's walking away. He brings the cups over to the coffee table where I am curled up in front of the gas fireplace, sits down against me and asks how I'm doing.

I take a sip. Real hot chocolate. He melts Hershey bars in milk, adding vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. It's delicious. I don't know why I don't have diabetes.

Then I talk for a while. He frowns the whole time. He's thinking. He asks precious few questions, instead letting me spool right up, dumping all of my gears and whirlygigs out all over his brain. His brain picks up each piece methodically, turning them over, sometimes polishing them on the hem of his shirt, sometimes pushing them all to one side with a sweep of his arm as the next round hits.

He's so patient.

And then I am finished. So is the hot chocolate. I wait for his instructions because two is better than one and Bridget won't be getting fixed today anyway.

But he doesn't say anything. He shoves the empty mugs to one side, puts his feet up on the table and pulls me in against his heart, where I let out a shaky breath and close my eyes.

It's almost dark when I open them again. When I stir he bends his head down, kissing my forehead. He tells me to get out. That's his standard operating procedure most days. A little work, a little cuddle, a lot of guilt.

I fly across the driveway in the final light of the day, landing in the kitchen just as boys start to pour in looking to see what's for supper. PJ's already started so I set out plates and napkins and respond to questions as sweetly as I can but I sting all over. I never get used to August's sudden cold shoulders. Not when he was so warm before.

Sam walks in, throws his suit jacket over the arm of my chair and pitches in automatically. He's got his sleeves rolled up, tie still looped around his neck. His Seychelles belt buckle persists, in spite of the four or five plain belts 'gifted' to him since he showed up with it.

When PJ heads to his room for something, Sam blocks my path as I head around with glasses on a tray. I stop short and they slide crazily toward the front edge. Jesus, Sam! I cry. I almost dropped the whole thing!

He takes the tray and puts it down. Talk to me. 

Oh, not about this. 

About anything. You know that. 

Just some issues with August. 

You're playing with fire, Bridget. (Sam has issues with August, as does everyone. August has no issue with anyone save for himself.)

I'm a trained professional, Sam. 

Professional what? Asks Lochlan as he comes in.

Heartbreaker, Sam and I say at the exact same moment.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Perilous normal.

The point is coated in a hard white crust again. I've come to resent the snow, as it covers the seaglass treasures I should be finding on the beach and it mutes my heartbeat down into a distant thump from somewhere far inside.

Lochlan's early, brusque refusal to take me down anyway sent it even deeper inside as he shook the snow off his hair and brushed off the shoulders of his thick fisherman knit sweater. He was outside splitting wood all morning. His hands are rough and fatigued, his arms are aching and he just wants to sit down and have a hot cup of coffee. He hasn't shaved in a couple of weeks and is starting to look like a mountain man. He's putting them all to shame, never stopping or even slowing down. Hardly sleeping sometimes and then catching up all at once. And still with one eye on and one ear out for me as I balance on the icy slopes too close to the cliff or spend too long out in the cold fascinated by the way the snow piles up on the deadened grapevines or the tree swing. I seek shelter in the studio or underneath the big hemlocks sometimes when it's too far to go back to the house for just one minute.

Curious girl, he scolds.

I shrug. When has that ever changed?

Finally he relents and I jump up to run to get my boots, waiting impatiently by the patio doors for him to finish his coffee as slowly as humanly possible and then pull on his big boots again. He never laces them. He grabs our red mittens from the shelf above the coats and tells me not to run ahead (in his mind I've never not been ten years old) and says he's coming.

When we get to the bottom of the steps he laughs and asks what treasures I'm going to find here today. I ignore him and step to the hard white edge of the earth where the solid ground ends and the glorious sea begins.

They're all still here, they just have a blanket today. I bend down and splash water up on the shore. The white crust melts away, revealing shells and two tiny pieces of bright blue glass. See?

Give me your mitts. Jesus, Peanut. He pulls my saltwater soaked mittens from my hands and replaces them with his own. Why do you do these things? 

I look at the dark teal frigid Pacific as I answer. I don't know. I can't help it.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Flakes.

It's a snow day! Everyone cancelled everything. Some of the boys were just brimming with Superbowl party invitations. Some of them have friends off the point.

Not me. This is my squad. And my squad has bailed on every last one of those invites to stay home with me because I was smart and ran out yesterday early to get junk food for the storm.

I'm glad this whole mess held off long enough for us to go to the show and now we can hunker in and keep the fire burning high and spool up perpetual movies all day, or the generator if the power goes out again. It's gone off twice but we're mostly ignoring the inevitable. I even slept in until nine today and then spent twenty minutes talking on the phone to Caleb while I woke up, while Ben did absolutely deplorable things like lick my elbows and tickle my earlobes (you were hoping for more exciting examples, I know.) Lochlan didn't even notice, he was too deeply asleep. He's weird like that. We got so used to living in close quarters he can sleep through phone calls, video games, movie watching, hair-drying, dish-washing, singing, you name it. But me? Ha. If a feather hits the carpet three continents away? I'M AWAKE.

The chips and dip are calling my name. It's horror movie day! Until the power goes, that is.

Friday, 3 February 2017

With every sinful bone.

Tonight we went to see Relient K + Switchfoot at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. They said it was the biggest show of the tour (venuewise/crowd size) and proceeded to roll out the most incredible show yet!

The venue is beautiful. They fixed the sound instantly after the first song seemed very overly bassy. The attendants were helpful, parking easy, bathrooms plentiful, they had food, spread out merch stands and lots of light. It was general seating so we sat smack-dab in the centre.

And I took my first deep breath of the night. Made it.

Relient K has only played a scant number of shows in Canada ever so I battled the flu and a huge snowstorm to get there. So glad I did.

I didn't bring my hearing aids either. I don't need them at shows. I can't hear some of the between-song banter but I don't find it's been a problem. I'm going to soak it all up while I can.

So worth it. So, so worth it.

They played Deathbed, guys. I cried through the whole thing while I sang along. It was beautiful. Matt played it on the piano and Jon came out to sing the part of Jesus at the end even! They also played almost everything else I love. I don't know how they breathe for all the words in the songs. They were funny and charming and sweet and freaking amazing. Matt Thiessen's hair is a ringer for Lochlan's. I've never seen another curly redhead in person with the big curls like that. Deathbed wasn't my favorite moment though, I think it was a cross between Boomerang and Empty House, which is a little hard to get used to on the album but then live is incredible. Just incredible. And a few times the crowd seemed to surprise them, starting a clap or a singalong and they looked so genuinely thrilled it was touching. They are the modern day Simon & Garfunkel. I'm sure of it.

Then a break. I tried not to yawn. Holy. Two shows in six days. I'm not good at this. I'm getting old.

Lights went out again. YES.

This was my fifth Switchfoot show. It's a record! Most times I've seen a band live (sorry Benjamin) but I don't think I'd want to miss them if they came.

So much more polished than a decade ago for our first show of theirs at the Garrick. That first show was a lifetime ago for me, and probably for them too. They didn't have a setup, just their instruments and their heart. They've gotten bigger each time since. Now they have a super high-tech light show, video monitors and a perfectly timed professional show that's heading into U2 territory at this stage of their trajectory. Wow. Most of the songs they played came from the new album, Where The Light Shines Through (Matt came out to join Jon for Live it Well!) and still they threw in some great surprises from yesteryear like Gone and Love Alone Is Worth the Fight. They did an epic acoustic Hello Hurricane around a single mike. I don't cry like a baby when they sing Dare You To Move finally. Took a lot of shows for that to happen.

I got an awesome Burn Brighter Than the Dawn t-shirt. I also got myself the coveted Relient K Blue Jays shirt.

What a great night. Thank you to both Switchfoot and Relient K for becoming a surprising but welcome soundtrack to a life I thought I should maybe drown out with noise but now instead I want to listen even harder than before. While I still can.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Good news.

This morning. THIS MORNING. 

Ruth got accepted to university!

MY KID. LOCH'S KID. 

I'm so proud. Especially after we forgot to remind her to add her academic awards to her resume. Sigh. Guess with the honour roll it's overkill but WHATEVER I'M PROUD.

So proud. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Sorry, not sorry. I lay in bed most of the day watching Stop A Douchebag on Youtube and eating grapes until I felt sick so I have nothing to report.