Tuesday, 9 October 2012


I took another sip and swallowed very slowly and I watched them over the lid of my chocolate milkshake because Christian said if I went any further in I might wind up in the line of fire.

They've squared off in the center of the field and I'm watching Lochlan stand with his fists clenched, his whole face contorted into the friendliest rage ever. Because he couldn't look scary if he tried but oh, boy is he trying. I kick the toes of my All-Stars into the sides of Christian's feet and ask him to stop them but he said it wouldn't do any good, they've done this at least once a week forever and they've been best friends for such a long time now everyone just waits them out.

But why? 

It doesn't really matter, Bridget. Maybe you should go home. Your mom will be pissed at us if she finds out we let you stick around and watch a fight. 

I've seen fights before. I try to sound non-committal. I try to sound older than eight. Of course I fail. I'm eight years old.

Right, Bridget. Run home. You'll probably see everyone later on our street. Please, go before we get in shit. 

And then Lochlan throws a punch and Caleb wasn't expecting it and down he goes. I find this suddenly fascinating. Caleb is a head taller than Loch and he definitely looks scary when he's mad. I think it's his hair. It's brown and barely wavy and he's got future-movie-star looks happening. Lochlan's red-blond springy curls are going to be his downfall. That's totally what it is. That and the fact that he's the shortest of the boys means I don't expect anyone to take him seriously but for some reason he seems to run the entire neighborhood. Caleb is two years older and resents Loch for that in a way that burns but he doesn't let on to the others. I can tell though. I'm really good at figuring people out already.

Lochlan backs off and lets Caleb stand up again. There is blood on his lip and he wipes it off on the back of his hand. He says a swear word and when he looks up he sees me and points in my direction. I can't hear what he's saying but Christian whispers Thank God under his breath. Lochlan turns and looks at me and shakes his curls and then motions for Caleb to go ahead. I guess the fight is over so I take another sip of my milkshake and wait for them to come to me.

Caleb reaches me first and puts on a softer expression. Sorry you had to see that, Bridget. Everything's okay. Cole snorts from somewhere behind me and Caleb shoots him a look that only a big brother can exact. See you later, he tells me and they leave, walking home or probably anywhere where Lochlan isn't, right now.

Lochlan comes over and the others sort of fall in around him. A natural born leader who doesn't want the role but takes it anyway. He stops directly in front of me and holds out his hand for a sip of my milkshake. It's a test so I pass it to him. He takes a long sip. Then another. I hold his gaze.

You sure don't act like any girls I know, Fidget, he tells me.

I'm not like any girls you know. I'm like no one you've ever met before or will ever meet again. 

Lochlan laughs as he considers my words. I'm going to hold you to that. 

Fine by me. You could have left me some of my own milkshake though. 

We turn and start walking back to our street. How about I buy you another one?

Not right now, I'll puke. 

No, not right now. How about on Saturday afternoon? 

It's a deal. Do you have any money?

Yes, I have money. I help out at the plant. It's not allowed so they pay me in cash. 

Why is it not allowed?

You have to be fifteen to work there. I have another year left to go. 

Where are you going to get a job once you're old enough?

I don't know. 

Well, what do you want to be when you grow up?

I don't care, I just want to make enough money to live a simple life. But it won't be around here. I don't want to be near Caleb.

I thought he was your best friend. 

Well, he is. Lochlan shrugs, I just don't like him and he doesn't like me either. 

That's weird, Lochlan. 

Yeah, I know. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Planning a perfect day.

A breakfast of eggs Benedict and Vietnamese coffee and then lunch of a toffee mocha and red velvet cupcakes and then dinner consisting of Monte Cristos-the sandwich and the coffee.

And then a horror movie marathon for two.

Hopefully it will be raining, for the added cozy factor and it would be wonderful if I could venture into the movies knowing I would still be awake halfway into the first film and it would be lovely to not have any repercussions to staying up very late, the next day being easy instead of painful from lack of rest.

It would just be amazing.

Don't you think? 

Sunday, 7 October 2012


(Looking at her is like waking up.)
He pauses and then takes a deep breath. Here we go. The memories about Jacob remain so close to your surface and yet nothing about Cole. Still. This summer it will be going on seven years, Bridget.

I know. I say it softly as if that excuses my behavior.

I would like to make a...separate proposal, if you will. I'd like to commission you to write some of the better memories down for me so I can make it into a book with some of his works. 

Is seven years the magic amount of time within which one passes from villain back to hero? I stare at him in sudden total chagrin. Scorn is not permitted.

He looks up sharply. No, I simply want some good memories to help offset everything I know. 

Paint him in the prettiest light possible? 

No, Bridget. Make a record of the times that things were good. The times your love grew instead of the times it was tested. 

I don't know. 

There's a ridiculous advance involved. 

Money doesn't buy me, Caleb. 

I'll do it piecemeal then. He winks and goes back to scrubbing food off the plates in the sink. He spoils me sometimes. He cannot cook and yet today he invites me down to the boat for scotch and bruschetta and we had a little sunshiny picnic, our legs dangling over the side of the wharf. I took off my shoes and then he did too and for all of fifteen seconds we were children again. Well, I was. When I first met Caleb he was sixteen, not a child anymore but barely a man. And now he's on the verge of fifty and just figured out how to chop up a few tomatoes to put on toast, sprinkled with a little bit of basil and a whole lot of absolution.

I drank my scotch in one gulp and waited while it burned the whole way down. At least I was not cold anymore. He frowned and we finished our lunch in silence and then we walked up the path together, I in my bare feet, kicking up dust every time I slid backwards, Caleb's patience tested as he repeatedly put out his arm to stop me from passing him on my way back down.

I offered to help clean up and then I'm out of here.

This amount of money and a guarantee to spend a certain amount of hours doing what you love best will serve to undermine us both, Princess, he winks at me and I pretend I don't see it. The water gushing out of the tap is loud and I unconsciously reach up and turn down my hearing aids until they're almost off. I've promised to wear them until it gets easier.

I don't know why I lie.

If I have memories I'll write about them on my own time, without a deadline. 

Okay, Bridget. I give. You're going to keep refusing all offers of help no matter how well I disguise them, I'll just go back to a cash allowance on a regular basis or direct deposit or something. 

For what? I don't do anything for you. Presently. 

That changes on a dime. Literally. He smiles to himself. I shrug. He is leaving me speechless often these days.

And yes, Bridget, seven years seems like the perfect amount of time for one to turn back into a hero. Especially when it's multiplied by four.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Why aren't you in the garage? 

I like it better out here in the sun.

What if someone sees you? 

Then you'll have all sorts of explaining to do but I think you've been doing it anyway. And they aren't listening anymore because it's growing dark. 

What are you talking about? It's only four o'clock.

I was being analogous.

He is sprawled in the Adirondack chair on the right. The one on the left is empty, waiting for me so I sit in it, falling all the way to the bottom, feet off the concrete. I look at him. He's in his fraying so-pale-blue-they-match-his-eyes jeans and a threadbare rust-colored t-shirt because that's what my brain put him in today. Then I realize what's missing and add a worn plaid flannel shirt in shades of dark blue and grey and now he looks like Jacob should.

I can't give this up. I'm not the crazy one.

He has a flask and he's drinking and the words are pouring out like fire. What's the definition of Adapt, Princess? Changing yourself to suit the conditions. Ben is right, you know. I'm sorry, I listen in. He isn't as dumb as he looks and he seems to only be the one who ever has your best interests at heart. 

Which weighs more, my best interests or my needs?

Are they different? They shouldn't be different, Pigalet, unless you are mistaking your wants for your needs. God will show you the difference. 

God isn't here, Jake. 

Sure he is. But he's a ninja. So you just can't see him. He takes another drink and laughs. I take the flask and erase it and Jake looks disappointed briefly and then sits up and leans forward, elbows on knees, all serious and attentive like he used to do when he was going to talk to me for a long time and a little thrill would run down each of my ears and converge on the back of my neck, lighting up my mind.

God is a Ninja. There's my next book title, Jake. 


You can ghostwrite it with me.

He frowns. Did you just make a pun at my expense?

I grin ridiculously. Yes. Suddenly I wish he was still here. So badly. When he looks out to sea I re-tie all the knots on the ropes that hold him down to earth, making them even more complicated and tighter than before.

Bridget, that's a waste of effort. It's almost time. 

NO IT ISN'T! I am so fast I'm the ninja now, running up the steps as he makes a grab for me, his hands closing on air.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Ghost protocol.

Of all the nightmares that ever came true,
I think that gravity is you
There's a moment two minutes and thirty-five seconds into Type O negative's live performance of Gravity in which Peter Steele yells "I can see God!"

It remains one of my favorite moments in music, giving me chills.


Ben stands by the door and I am all the way across the yard on the other side of the wind. He is not nervous, he likes to play out a lot of rope and I will take my end and run with it until I reach the end and get yanked right off my feet. It is taut between us but I keep pulling. It's low tide and I want to blow kisses to my ghosts while he says it's now time the ghosts went away because we're not going to get anywhere now until we lighten the load enough to actually let the wheels turn.

I love his analogies. They're always about mechanics and physics (Fuck me, I wrote psychic about fifteen times until my brain kicked in right there) and things I know very little about. Last night he launched into this incredibly complex description of how Eddie Van Halen gets his sound and I likened it to when I try to explain to him why I need an eighty-seventh lip gloss (because it's matte, non-sticky and an eighty-first shade of rose red that I don't already have) and while it makes perfect sense to me, I may as well be speaking French to him.

Likewise when he talks about soldering guitar pickups and I have no clue what he means but I figure they are matte, non-sticky pickups in different sounds and it's sort of like lipgloss except he creates music and I create distractions from the wrinkles around my eyes and whatever other flaws are there.

Like the fact that if any more color leaks out of my eyes I'm going to have freaky white irises. They assure me this cannot happen, and I'm all LOOK AT ALL THE RECORDS I CAN BREAK WITH THAT STATEMENT and everyone drifts away again to watch from the edges while I stand in the wind, my hair sticking to my lipgloss, because this one is too sticky.

Maybe Ben can solder pickups over my mouth and I can make music instead of just filling in colors.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

May you rot in heaven.

When cold water's on her skin
I can feel how long it's been
New World is on repeat in my ears and the wind finally died down. I stand at the top edge of my world. To my right I hear sirens but there's no road there so I know it's my ears playing tricks on me as they always have.

The sun is so bright. So bright I have squinted my eyes up into tiny half-moons, peering out under my bangs, blinded by the rays. I'm almost wishing for rain at this point. That's cracked but so is the ground beneath my feet. I'm out in the grass at sunup watering the carnations and roses (still going strong) and I'm looking at the faded green grass wondering if it really will come back or if somewhere we went very wrong in letting it go with less watering than we should have done. You can't water a lawn this size, you just can't. On the other hand, it would look better green. So I don't know where I'm going with this.

The raccoons took all the grapes save for a bowlful and that was a disaster. The roses had a blight of some kind and the lilacs are so long over I almost forgot about them. The orchard is a shell game, and no one knows where the prize is. It's a relic, a tree ghost-town, a bark army failing to advance against the salt wind.
I got a lot I gotta do
Just to get through the end of the day
It hardly ever happens
But I go to sleep the same anyway

And you can't believe in yourself
You can't believe in anyone else
So why sit and wait
For the new world to begin
We need to get the snow tires out, I think to myself. Jake would have done it by now. They would already be on my car if he were here, just in case. He would have the shovels out and be ready, even though he would stand here every day and remark how mild the day is, every day like clockwork only his clock is broken now and in the process it fucked up my sense of time. I can't tell anymore whether it's nighttime or daytime or dinnertime or time for sleep until I drop. I can't tell if an hour has passed or a minute.

I can't tell you anything but that's okay today because it's beautiful out. So beautiful I can't even see.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The more they stay the same.

Can I buy a mechanical pencil when we go to town? I am down to a stub, one that Lochlan painstakingly sharpens for me each night with his knife. If it gets dull before he's done his shift I have to wait. Sometimes I forget to ask when I see him and then I can't write or draw at all when I wait for him to come back to the camper. He was late and so tonight was endless.

Sure. It's a good week so far. Unless you blow it all on candy apples. 

I won't do that. 

Yes, you will. 

I promise I won't. I make my eyes very big and I shake my head slowly side to side.

He bursts out laughing. You'd be more convincing without the ring of red sugar on your face, Bridget. He turns stern again. I told you to get a hamburger. You can't live on candy. You're still growing. Do you want to be this tiny when you're older?

The apple was cheaper. Plus it's fruit! Fruit is healthy. I'll grow. At least I hope I will.

Fruit doesn't fill you up. Now your growling belly is going to keep me awake all night. He thinks for a minute. I think I'll run out and get us something now, and I'll get you some pencils at the same time. 

No! It's too late now. Don't go out. 

Growing peanuts have to eat. He says it softly. Just lock the door and don't let anyone in and you don't go out, okay? Besides, it's good practice learning to love the dark. 

I only love it if you're here. 

He thinks for another minute. Okay, let's try this instead. He pulls me over to the bed and we look out the tiny window. See that star there? In Orion's belt?


Good girl! Okay, you keep watch on that star, and so will I and it will be as if we're together. Same sky, same place. And I'll be back in an hour. 

What are we going to eat? Not hamburgers. They're all drippy and greasy and then we'll smell like mustard in our dreams.

Ham sandwiches then? With mayo?

Okay. The good ham with the black edges?

I'll see what I can do. He smiles and crushes a kiss against my hair and then leaves, coming back three times in thirty seconds to make sure the door is locked.


Purgatory is a track and Jacob is running, running, running circles around me as I stand in the center, whistle around my neck, clipboard in my arms.

You always finish with the same time, I tell him with a frustrated smile as he crosses the finish line for the eight-millionth time.

I'll never get faster or slower. I'll just remain the same. Forever, Bridget. No amount of encouragement or training is going to change this. You KNOW this, Pigalet. But still you make me run. I'd like to go home to the Lord now. 

Not gonna happen. You don't belong there. Go back and do one more lap. Let's see if the headwind will make a difference. I take a bite of my ham sandwich and shake my head at the page of results. The same number on every single line.

Pigalet, you're going to run out of room on that page soon. Then what will you do?


You're different with everyone. Don't you see it?

Apparently Wednesdays are for open wounds and gaping holes.

No, I don't see it. If you have something to share then just get it over with. I shovel a grilled black forest ham sandwich onto Lochlan's plate. PJ looks at the plate and then looks at Loch. If Loch decides to pick a fight and then leaves without eating lunch PJ would probably like to reap the benefits while the benefits are still warm.

Oh, now I get why they fight over me. I'm usually still warm.

(I'm kidding. Fuck, cut a girl a little slack. Like I said, it's Wednesday and Wednesdays have become strange days indeed.)

Yeah, well, with me lately you're a fucking goddamned little bratty child who won't listen to a fucking thing.

Except in bed. Then I am the same with all of you, so no one's missing out.

Bridget! Lochlan growls it across the counter at me but if he wants bratty he'll get bratty.

PJ stands up. He's really gunning for that sandwich so he tells Lochlan to watch himself. Lochlan ignores him just like he ignores the plate.

Are you going to eat that? I ask him. Because if you aren't then I think PJ is still hungry

Lochlan frisbees the plate gently down the island to PJ, who puts his hands up in a football-dance sort of victory celebration.

You should eat. You're still growing. I tell Loch.

I'd like to think I was, he says, but like you, I'm stuck in 1983. And gets up and leaves.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

BOOM. He's home.


Jumping guns.

And the fear burns away
The sky breathes it in
So why sit and wait
For the new world to begin
The phone rings at 5:30 this morning, 8:30 New York time. I am not awake. I'm not caffeinated. I'm not sure it wasn't some sort of massively vicious prank or, at the very least, a dream.

Jesus fuck, bee, a guy makes a shitty comment and you run with it and now I've given away my life without even knowing it. Is my stuff outside in a smoldering heap in the driveway? 

Who is this? 

Oh my FUCK. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Bridget. I love you. Perfect comeback.

Then why are you all like 'You don't need me.'?

Because you don't. But that's a good thing. We have a healthy relationship, it's just unconventional. Well, except for the fact that I regularly lick you all over but if we were any healthier you'd be whole wheat. 

Then why won't you come home?

I had a meeting that I wanted to go to. And I have a surprise.

What surprise?

You'll just have to see when I get there.

I roll my sleepy eyes toward the ceiling. I don't think I can stand another day without you. When will you be home? 

How does tonight sound? 

Better than good.

Okay so in the meantime? Don't listen to Caleb. Don't listen to anyone. We'll sort it out. We always do. Just don't listen to any of them.

Do I ever?

That's my girl. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Hi. I hate everybody.

My dreams are all just throwaways
My superstitions lack
I'm just unlucky anyway
All of my cats are black
Don't let the sun pass you by
Don't let it fall from the sky
Don't let the the sunshine pass you by
Don't let the tear fall from your eye
Another morning, another gorgeous heavyweight silk embroidered swing coat, tights and respectable-heeled boots, another attempt to pin my hair up and another attempt by yet another man in a suit to steer my life in a way he sees fit, instead of in the way I want.

(Did I mention I don't know exactly what I want?)

Batman halfheartedly shoots a cuff and checks his watch.You going to bounce around for the rest of your life here? Ben's given you a clear sign. Change is necessary and I don't think he'll come back until he gets something.

What would he prefer, that I overthrow Loch for Caleb?

Well, at least you're not sleeping with Caleb anymore.

Boy, are YOU ever out of the loop.

He stops whatever admonishment he was about to make and just stares at me. I shrug.

So why would Ben stick around at all? Why would he put up with this, Bridget?

We made a family out of what we had and some other arrangements too. We're not perfect.

By far.

Wow. This is a fun breakfast date. Thanks.

Bridget, none of this is normal.

And your point is?

You need to decide what you want and leave everything else behind.

Oh, so what you're saying is, for the past twenty years as long as you were getting some it was great but since that no longer happens I should behave now?

 There's too much at stake now.

The time for stakes has come and gone. I'm just..well, I don't even know what I'm doing now.

Exactly. I can't believe you have sustained this so long. How many at a time?

Okay, so now you're basically asking me if I sleep with all of them?

He looks around and back at me. Yes.

No, I don't do that.

It was an almost visceral sigh of relief that came from his demeanor but I didn't wait around to see what he was going to ask me next.