Saturday, 11 January 2014

Clear glass.

Explain what you mean about making Loch suffer. I stand sweetly at the door, my hands clasped behind my back, waiting for his response. Behind me is John, because on my orders he would do anything, as long as I can say it.

And Caleb is vaguely afraid of him because of that. John worked for Caleb for a brief period but Caleb found him a little unpredictable, with loyalties that would not quit and so they parted ways. John now works for a small security company and sleeps the mornings away after working nights. He also moonlights as a living, breathing copy of Zakk Wilde but don't tell him that. Caleb smiles tightly at us both and rubs his forehead.

Bridget, I'm not in a good mood lately. I meant that once he's no longer the wandering gypsy rat that you will stop mistaking pity for desire and move along to the next man who needs you. In effect that levels the playing field. 

You don't actually live under those sorts of delusions, do you?

You're well aware that I spend my waking moments trying to win you back, I don't conceal my obsession. 

John snorts and Caleb asks him if he needs something or if we can have a little privacy.

John says no and Caleb almost asks him for which and then realizes John isn't going to budge. I lean back in thanks and he gives me a quick squeeze. Caleb rolls his eyes and turns and waves us into the house behind him.

I'm attempting to pour all of my resources into staying alive for a few more years to see my son grow up and to make sure you are looked after. Sometimes I slip. I will try harder. I think I'm doing a good job of being agreeable and yet it's one-sided. 

Can you blame him?

Bridget, if our roles were reversed I would have killed him in 1983. I could have even if they weren't.

Why didn't you?

Because I didn't want to hurt you and yes, I see the irony in that, under the circumstances. I didn't realize the seriousness of my actions at the time and so I made my threats and I ran. I was twenty. I was a stupid kid. 

You were the adult. We were the kids, remember? 

And you were both more worldly than I was, locked away in lecture rooms all day. 

Studying law. Stop making excuses. 

I'm making amends. I'm about to give him the means to achieve his wildest dreams and you're worried that I half-assedly threatened him? If I did, I apologize. I just want to be left alone now. Well, you can stay but only if you feel like having a nap with me and not talking. 

Not today. 

Did you hear that, John? She said 'not today'. Which means there's a possibility of another day, perhaps. This is what a man like me lives for and she never fails to string me along just enough to keep my hopes up. Bridget, I love you for that. He turns his attention back to me. Really I do. You never shut me out completely. 

I start to talk but he holds up one finger. I'm an old man. Leave me my delusions that they may turn into dreams while I sleep. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Prize at the bottom.

My blanket is the color of an Atlantic storm, my head sleepy like a wave. He comes into the room quietly and I can smell salt and earth and iron as he comes closer. I finally open my eyes and he stands there soaking wet, covered with mud, hair tangled and dripping, clothes ruined, watch and nails and the end of his nose streaked with dirt. He holds his hands clasped together tightly as if he has caught a small bird, except that it's not a bird. It's my heart and it's zombie-lurch-beating all over the place as he holds it.

I have it. I got it back for you. I got it back for me, I mean. Finders keepers, Peanut.

I will hide myself below
I'll be what you wanted
Kept inside I won't let go
Until I burn beyond control
Caleb tells me quietly as I finish signing things. That's all that I need right now. There will be more to do next week. 

Is it enough then?

Enough for what?

To buy what I need.

Bridget, just tell me what you need and I'll get it.

You know what it is. How much does it cost? 

You can't pay for that, Bridget. 

Why not?

The price is one soul for another and yours is not available, remember?

Then let me buy it back. I think I have enough now. 

No, not even close. 

Then keep your money. 

It's amazing. Faced with all of this, faced with me fixing his life too (he points in the direction of the main house), you still choose the dead over the living. I suppose I should be heartened by that since my brother is included in that but I don't. 

He isn't and I wouldn't bring him back even if I could.

Caleb walks right up to me as if he's about to haul off and show me his perfect echo of death but then he remembers that others are present. They might know of our arrangements but they don't need to witness intensely personal exchanges.

You can go. We'll do this early next week in the office. Tell your joker that he gets his no matter what and that he is to let you assist him in directing the funds. Don't forget. The last thing I want to see is him wasting my efforts. 

He doesn't waste money. 

Money changes people, Bridget. I was so hoping it would change you. 

Why? It's only made you meaner. 

It makes me impatient. I'm sorry if you interpret that as anger. 

It is anger. 

Time to go, Princess. And please don't ever speak ill of my brother again. He loved you and he existed knowing you loved someone else. We all have felt that and now we can't do a thing about it. Don't think that doesn't bring out the rage of all the angels. Don't think that doesn't make us ALL into monsters by default. Have Lochlan come and sign his papers this weekend. He doesn't deserve this but the least I can do is make us equals and then I'm going to make him suffer.

I liked you better when you at least pretended to get along with people. 

I could say the same about you, Princess.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

No navigators on board.

(Aside from the fifteen minutes I'm about to share, today was a good day. Mostly because I found the ghost I thought I lost.)
You pray to stars that can help you get by
And all at once you forget to try

I'd go there if you let me
They're never gonna find me now
Someone went out and left The Grace on the stereo. Heads are going to roll right into the hole they're going to have to fish me out of when time permits because I took one step away from that song and the ground gave away beneath me. I spiralled around and around down to the bottom faster than it took me to turn around and widen my eyes at Lochlan, who dove for the knob on the receiver and missed. (He's smart enough not to reach for me, as one would think one would do when music that liquifies my mind comes on. No. Always turn the music off first.)

Life is a bit of a minefield in that regard, and that's why I fall in these holes. I blow up when I don't look where I'm going and fall in a hole put there by a previous explosion.

It's fine. It's better down here. I don't have to be beholden to the demon with the gun perpetually held against my skull who ruined my past and my future and has now started in on my present. It's fine because I have lots of company down here. Jake was sitting up against the wall when I landed. He winced as my cast glanced off the floor and he asked if it hurt. I said yes and he kept his face very neutral because with me hurting is better than feeling nothing at all.

He asks about Ben and I wave my hands to defer. His whole face changes to despair and I assure him Ben is doing well, I just don't try to explain him anymore.

I pull my arm up to my chest and bite my lip. Fuck, it hurts. This is not a good hurt, this is an agonizing throb and he tells me to have someone get me out. He doesn't call Lochlan by name, which means he's mad about how Lochlan isn't very good at checking music before I hear it and I think that's a bit of a tall order in a house where half a dozen people share a vast and eclectic music collection, and they try to do what everyone does, not coddle me by ignoring songs that trigger falls into holes.

I shake my head in refusal. I haven't seen him in forever and he wants me to leave? He says purgatory is getting difficult to navigate. That every time he leaves me it gets harder and harder to find his way back and he didn't think he would have to anymore but here he is and he can't explain it.

I told him that means he made a rash decision. He shakes his head. It wasn't. It was planned. Calculated. Unavoidable. Inevitable. I just made him delay it by several years.

My cast thrusts itself through my ribcage, splintering bone, cracking ribs with an ungodly racket. My hand grasps my slippery, broken, stitched-up heart and pulls it out. I hold it up to him in offering and he tells me he lost that honor when he followed through.

I don't care. Just take it, it's yours.

What about Loch?

I don't know! He'll be okay. He's resourceful. He has Ruth.

Bridget, you have to climb up now. Right now.

I can't do it with one arm.

I can help. You can stand on my shoulders.

If I touch you again I think that will be it for me.

I know. Build a magic carpet out of my letters and float out. There should be enough. Have you finished them all?

I haven't touched them.

He did one of those indignant double-takes, as if he's completely disgusted and shocked all at once. It's the goofiest thing he ever did with his face and I loved it.  I realize I'm about to throw up, everything hurts so much suddenly, it washes over me, a tidal wave of memories that begins to fill the hole. I rise to the top eventually and Lochlan fishes me out by the back of my shirt. He's got a way with that, and yet all the seams are intact as he stands me firmly on the living room floor.

You could have drowned, Peanut.

Yes, I know.

You can't swim with one arm.

I know.

Jake isn't here anymore.

For you, he isn't.

Maybe you should read the letters.



He stops abruptly, biting his lip, checking himself, refusing to go any further with his attempts to force progress where progress isn't to be had, and he pulls me in, kissing my forehead, wrapping his arms around me tightly.

Your heart. What did you do with it?

I left it in the hole, Locket. 

I'll go back and get it for you tonight.

You don't have to do that, you know. 

No, I think I should. He nodded, more to himself than to me. Yeah. I think I should be the one to get it this time. I said I'd try harder and I will. I am, I mean. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014


I'm in a long ruffle-y sweater, very tall knee socks that almost reach up to my neck (the joys of being five feet tall, NOT), a tank top and shorts. Basically pajamas with added things for warmth. I'm curled up in front of the roaring fireplace beside Lochlan, who decided to catch up on his reading and won't let me leave because every time I do something bad happens.

Not sure that yesterday was so bad but he's going to keep me with him nevertheless.

Caleb calls me and Lochlan's face twists slightly but not enough to admonish him for.

Bridget, you need to sign these papers. 

Send a raven. I will look them over when I feel up to it. 

Oh my fuck. This isn't Game of Thrones. You're keeping everyone hanging. Lawyers are expensive. 

So are princesses, Diabhal! 

Yes, I'm well aware. I'm trying to keep the peace, make you happy and get you better,  I would have thought you'd be more willing. 

Hey, you said the same thing in Vegas once, only instead of trying to get me better, you were trying to get me drunk and wondered why I wasn't more willing. Do you remember?

What does that have to do with this? 

More than you realize. 

I hang up on him and Lochlan bursts out laughing. 'Send a raven'. You do realize he could have easily countered with 'Send a dwarf'. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Dissolute (no one's project girl).

Are you finished with your voice lessons and ready to get some very important things looked after today?

Yes, Mr. C____. 

He paused but he didn't look amused. Bridget, I'm not in the mood for the brat today. I know that's a rare occurrence but now is not the time for your nonsense. This isn't the circus, this is the boardroom. 

This isn't the boardroom, this is the boathouse. Oh! By the way! Did I tell you I'm drawing a map of the property?

You can tell me later. Let's go, we have a lot to get done. 

I walk into the living room and there are lawyers everywhere. One of them is mine. Oh, wait. Two of them are mine. My heart sinks. He's taking Henry.

But Caleb sees the look on my face and is almost as fast as my anxiety is loud.

This has nothing to do with our arrangement. Except to say I tried to keep you shielded from this and I've reached a place where that is no longer possible. 

What do you mean?

He took me back outside to tell me privately, holding my hands, watching my eyes as I went from sure he was lying to sure he was dying within minutes.

Although he assured me he isn't going anywhere, he really has to take better care of himself. The stress of trying to manage all of this isn't helping and so he's going to take some of my unending suggestions and simplify, liquify and rearrange his holdings so that it's easy to handle but perfectly secure. The board will be dissolved. My proposal comes to me as a done deal even though I've done nothing to deserve it.

I nod and then tears are rolling heavily down my cheeks and I make no move to hide them. Every time I cut him off it seems he hurts a little more. This is my fault. I must be the heartbreaker.

You are, he laughs with glassy eyes, answering my reasoning out loud. And the fact that you continually defer or bank, ignore and sometimes outright refuse my money only serves to confirm that you are the one who should have it. 

Are you dying. I don't ask questions anymore, I just brace myself for the worst with statements, dry and bitter. I literally square my shoulders and lock my knees and when I look at him he is a bit covered with glitter and with sad and with resignation too.

Someday yes but not soon, if that's what you're worried about. 

You can't die ever. You're not allowed. I bend over to pick up all of the pieces of Bridget that are suddenly popping off everywhere and scattering all over the floor.

I know. I know I can't but I will someday and I'm going to see that when the time comes you are well-equipped to deal with it.

What do you mean?

Bridget, it's begun to dawn on me that no one has been able to fix you yet. So I'm going to. I have things at my disposal that no one else does and a history with you no one else shares or even knows all that much about. I figure I am the best suited to helping you get better.


Less prone to burst into tears and run off to sit on the rock wall in the pouring rain when you catch a surprise memory of Jacob. 

Hell, I do that when I have a rough time flossing my teeth these days, I think it's a universal-Bridget-thing, not a Jake-thing. 

Then I have my work cut out for me. 

Oh, this sounds relaxing and stress-free for you! Yay!  What about Loch?

What about him? I am entitled and encouraged to spend time with you. He can retch and moan all he likes, that won't change. 

It won't work, you know. 

I've tried everything else. Literally everything, Princess. Let's just take it as it comes and see what happens. 

You can't fix me. Besides, I'm not yours to fix. 

You as much mine as anyone's. A group project. Collective effort. 

No, I'm not. 

But you are.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Cover me.

And through it all
He offers me protection
A lot of love and affection
Whether I'm right or wrong
And down the waterfall
Wherever it may take me
I know that life won't break me
When I come to call
He won't forsake me
I'm loving angels instead
Caleb asked me to come down and go over even more paperwork yesterday and after all manner of threats, coercion and yelling between he and Lochlan both I finally just went, just to keep the peace. Just so the kids don't have to come home and find their fathers at each other's throats once again because some things never change and all of their attempts to get along are nothing more than selfish means to ends.

I went but further assuage the hearts at home I wore red and I refused to look at anything. I lay on the floor in the living room and blasted Angels on repeat, practicing my singing and God help the Devil, he didn't touch the stereo, instead eventually leaving. I remained there until the sun went down and then I sat up and went home. I left the song on just so as not to go quietly into the night and all that.

He sent a message to me late tonight ordering me to try again tomorrow but to leave Jessica at home.

I'm still deciding if I'm going to do that. Maybe I'll bring Robbie instead. Because it's his song, not Jessica's. Yeesh.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Wool & wood & frost.

He has a thirty-five-year-old cableknit sweater in a shade of oatmeal-ivory that I can't replicate in order to properly darn the elbows and underarms and when he wears it his hair is virtual fire. Today is definitely a sweater day as he comes in from chopping wood. They take turns, mostly but Lochlan is the one who seems to actually look forward to it. He comes inside with bits of wood hanging off his sleeves and mixed in his curls but he looks energized, puffed up. PJ walks past him and squeezes his arms, letting out a high-pitched squeal and a giggle and then the rest of us begin to laugh because we did not expect that.

He shakes PJ off and comes over to hug me. He smells like cedar and hemlock and salt. I don't think there's a better smell out there for a man and five years ago I would have said something else, perhaps.

Wood's done. I'm not stacking it though.

I don't blame you. You didn't have to do all of it.

We're good until spring.

I pour him a hot cup of coffee. I can hold things again. I can manage a little better each day.

He ignores the coffee and pulls me back in against him. He's a solid wall. I don't know where the muscles came from. He's always been ridiculously strong-armed but it was invisible strength and that's no longer the case. His neck is wider, his shoulders impossibly hard. The sweater is doomed.

We should go back to bed.

Still got some wood to finish up, do we? I swat him with the dish towel and forget there's a row of boys at the island eating breakfast. They are all studying their dishes and trying not to laugh. I blush pink and try and be really busy cleaning up for a few minutes but it's still frustrating, it takes forever.

Everyone's been great, almost better since Asher came and went only he didn't actually go, he's still here, but as a guest and not an employee until I figure out what to do. Batman is patiently waiting for my decisions and I don't actually think Asher has anywhere else to go, honestly so we've been including him at dinner and for movie nights and morning patio lounging though it's cold enough for frost here so the heaters have been on outside. I still go out and so does everyone else. The sunrise is so late so why not?

Hence all of the wood-chopping because it's always so dim and dark here. I could pay extra to have it delivered already split but if the alternative is Lochlan looking like this then I think next time I'll just tell them to bring us the trees whole.

Friday, 3 January 2014

I figure I will last about a week. Two, tops.

(Thoughts on formal resolutions this year tended to fall on a helpless kind of ennui about whether or not it's effective to get fired up about some big change only to find out it's an unwelcome, unsustainable chore. 

Or bore, as it were. 

So instead I'm trying something different.)

In 2014 I will have:

A little less structure: An effort to not follow a schedule, pick up every dirty dish I pass or plan meals within an inch of my life. Over Christmas we skipped lunch on purpose two days in a row and the world didn't end or anything.

A little more time with Sam working away at anxiety now that we (I?) have grief under control (NOT SURE WHO JUST WROTE THAT): He's going to help me figure out how I can think myself into a panic just by being me and how to not be me anymore. I can't wait to see who I am when all this is done. I hope they like her. 

(Of course they'll like her. Bridget, but without all of her debilitating doubt? Hell, I might just steal her for myself). 

A little less: alcohol 

A little more: sleep. 

A little more time spent on doing exactly what I want to do: For example, I want to make a little felt case for my headphones. I've wanted to do this for weeks but I got sidetracked making little felt ornaments for Christmas and then I didn't want to see any fucking felt after that. 

A break from the Devil: The last time I attempt this I made it five years and would have made it further but then Cole's heart stopped and my plan went out the window. I didn't say I don't need Caleb, I just need him to be less like Cole, if that makes any sense at all. Cold turkeys aren't the best turkeys but I am minding my time carefully with him.

Some new shirts: because comfort and also skulls. I need new skulls. They all have names, did you know that? I use the boys' middle names mostly but sometimes I make up new ones and then everyone is suspicious until they realize I'm talking about a sweater. 

A drawing a day: I did it before and filled two sketchbooks. Now I have five new sketchbooks and haven't done a thing. 

More walks on the beach, dinners out and special time with each child and boy: Ruth seems to need me and hardly ever need me, Henry needs me to direct him a little more and bail him out less, as in he needs man-chores without the inevitable list of questions that I answer instead of letting him solve on his own. If I remove myself from his available list of answers he tends to figure things out quite nicely. I feel like I don't even know half the people I live with anymore from trying to bite around the edges of my own reality for so long. And I've hardly been down to the beach these past few months at all. 

It ain't right, I tell you.

More breathing deeply: less blacking out! This is purely a selfish plan on my part.

More coffee: Because fuck it, coffee's good and trying not to drink it just leaves me...well, cold and sort of sleepy.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Resolutions tomorrow.

Today I actually got up, put on some clothes, helped untrim the Christmas tree and drank the last glass of cheap champagne. We took the wreaths off the doors and garage and the antlers off PJ's jeep (he doesn't know yet) and put them on New Jake's motorcycle (he doesn't know either). Lochlan helped me with laundry and Andrew and Gage looked after vacuuming and scrubbing bathrooms.

Which...they should have left the vacuuming until after Ben drags the tree outside but I didn't have the heart to point that out because they're helping. 

Helping's good. 

Henry won't share his Christmas chocolate, Andrew has a worse cold than mine and Lochlan's accent seems thicker than ever. Every time I ask him to repeat himself as he mutters into his collar he barks at me to put my ears on. Then he smiles, as if he's being helpful, sweet cad that he is. 

He sounds like Jake. I should tell him, but I don't have the heart for that either. I drowned my heart yesterday and it hasn't recovered so I left it on the shelf to dry and decided I would go up and fetch it before dinner. Maybe it will shrink. Maybe the color will run. God knows it hasn't behaved in any expected fashion since I sewed it back together with the thick black cord so I should expect any manner of surprises. 

Ben is awake now, it seems. He goes through weird stages where he seemingly sleeps for days and in my condition I basically said fuck it and joined him. 

And it was lovely. I sneezed into his chest and it all came back and showered me. He laughed in his sleep as he clutched me against him, also a rare treat since he sleeps like a corpse. We didn't move from that for hours. I needed it more than I realized. I need him more than I realize. I need them both, wrapped around me like a cage made of everything I ever wanted. 

We have a date to meet back there at nine tonight, once the day has wound down to a soft tick on a forgotten clock, the soft thump-thump of a rain and champagne soaked heart and the never-ending, always-present sound that seems like ghosts breathing but probably just means I should put my ears in already.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Fire eats oxygen (and blood runs red).

When the future's architectured
By a carnival of idiots on show
You'd better lie low

If you love me
Won't you let me know?
A blur of illness, injury, emotional tidal waves and hesitant touches saw 2014 ushed in this time around with copious amounts of pink champagne keeping me from choking on the weather all around me. The cold pushed back against the abbreviated light, putting a frost on the fires that threatened to burn so bright we might all go blind.

The waves crashed relentlessly against my heart as I lay in my bed at the very top of the house on the cliff this time and I let them. I failed to climb out from under the fur blankets and I failed to acknowledge whole days and I slept little but mostly escaped. I failed to engage, as they call it.

And I'm not sorry.