Thursday, 30 June 2016

Mood ring (or maybe it's moon ring).

Had a lovely drive this afternoon with Caleb in his freshly detailed R8. This car is sexier than he is. Wait, I am still angry with him except there's the car and I can't be angry with the car. I also can't reach the pedals without sitting on a whole pile of things so he has to drive and it's just a really sweet package deal.

Besides, he always takes me for really expensive ice cream. Millionaires don't care that you are lactose intolerant or they truly believe it has something to do with that peasant ice cream you buy by the tub at the grocery store. If only you bought the twelve-dollar glass jars of hand-mixed locally sourced gluten free vegan whatever you'd be fine. 

Well, no, but-

Trust me, I have money.

At least that's how I imagine the conversation goes in my head.

I got salted caramel paleo with man buns and weekend hiking plans or some such creative something because 'chocolate' was nowhere to be found. He got organic hipster tech startup probably drives a car2go because they didn't seem to have 'maple walnut' either. We had to pay with gold bars because it came to eleven thousand, six hundred and eighteen dollars and then to top it off he wouldn't even let me eat in the car.

I just had it detailed, Bridget. 

But it's freezing! 

It's ice cream! 

No, I mean outside. 

Would you like my jacket? 


He draped it around my shoulders and fastened the button in the front. He always thinks that's funny, telling me once that he couldn't get it around Sophie and close it in the front.

That's 'cause she's a man, I told him that day and he snorted coffee into his napkin in surprise.

I suddenly can't lift the ice cream cone all the way to my mouth so I lean way forward to try and bring my head to it instead (always thinking) and he swears and undoes the button again.

Must you be so silly? 

Um, yes? Must you not? 

I brought you out for ice cream, didn't I? 

And yet you stand here and eat it like you've got a fucking cone up your ass, Cale. 

So he starts to sway. All the way toward me and I scream because I think he's collapsing and then suddenly he dips away in a circle and then he's back but his feet aren't moving and he's carrying on a perfectly normal conversation while he oscillates around crazily. People are beginning to stare at him and he waves at several and then apologizes to a few more, saying it's the damnedest thing but that he thinks I have my own gravitational field and he can't resist. They all smile sweetly but suspiciously and keep walking and I keep getting a brain freeze from taking huge bites of ice cream with a big smile on my face.

By the time we're finished our cones I am dizzy and he has slowed to a stop. We take a seat on a wall near the ice cream shop.


Still cold, still vaguely angry and disappointed but very relieved to see that the funny guy I know so well is still in there. 

We had to grow up, Doll. Sometimes you don't have a choice. 

And just like that the wind blows cold again and the mood is changed.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Diez. Dios. Dio. Piedad.

Mark flew out for the long weekend, bringing his tattoo kit with him. I had him set up in the library after we rolled up the big fuzzy white rug. He put a big huge letter X just above my belly button. I've never had much of a want for stomach tattoos. Mostly because when I was pregnant I gained fifty pounds each time and also they hurt like the dickens (stomach tattoos AND babies, I mean). But now I have a huge hollow X filled with beautiful filigree scrollwork around the inside edges of the letter itself with a splash of teal winding through and around the whole thing and no, I'm not sharing because every time I post a tattoo photo I see it copied later and not in a flattering way.

X stands for ten. Ten years ago this July 13, Cole died of heart failure at the ripe old age of 38 39, already corrected, thanks Diabhal. It also stands for Xavier. His middle name.

The tattoo took two hours and fifteen minutes. I only needed a five minute break because I let it get the best of me but then Andrew came over and put on a movie and I was okay after that with minimal fuss and a lively debate on the terrible state of our university Spanish credits.

Mark asked what happened to my hardcore self.

She died. I told him.

Too bad, he said. She was the best. 

I'm not bad either. 

You're a weakling. She was a warrior. Maybe I should flip you over and put a W on your back. 

My back is full, I remind him.

It's okay. I'm saving the W for Loch anyway. He's the other way around. Used to be a weakling, now a warrior. It's like you guys have traded places. 

It's hard to believe you've flown all this way just to bust my balls, Mark. 

If only you had any, Bridget. 

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Shots fired.

Caleb's having the stitches taken out of his face later today if all goes well. He's mightily impressed by all this. When I point out that he is lucky, that it could have been worse, he looks at me and says it still could be.

What in the hell do you mean by that? I ask him and throw my empty coffee cup at his head.

Jesus Christ, Bridget! How much damage are you two going to do to my face this week already?

Not enough, apparently because there's still stupid noises coming out of it! GOD! I turn to head back inside for a fresh cup and walk right into Ben. Ben the stranger, who has all but moved into the second tinier suite of rooms off the studio downstairs that wasn't ever supposed to be used for anything but has seemingly become his home.

Okay, Bumblebee? His arms go around me and the mixed messages leave me wishing for a rockstar translator. Or at the very least some sort of impulse generator.

Okay what?

Are you?


Are you okay?

Define okay.

Not fatally wounded? I guess. 

Ha. Whatever. Is there coffee left? Bye. 

I head around him and hear him ask Caleb what's 'wrong' with me but I don't hear Caleb's response. I don't want to hear Caleb's response. I pour a new cup, find sugar and milk for it (curse you Sam) and head straight through the front of the house looking for that alone time that saves the boys this kind of mood from me. Mercifully no one's on the porch so I head down to the grotto where the sun is streaming in between the branches making everything magical. Maybe not quite dry yet but magical anyway. I haven't spent enough time here. Everything is covered with moss. I curl up in the chair and take a sip and scream when a voice behind me speaks.

Can't a guy get a little privacy anymore? 

It's Dalton. He's sitting on the rock wall directly behind me, coffee cup and empty plate beside him, nose in a book.

I'm sorry. I didn't see you. 

That's the point. You stopped using this place and it's too nice to let it go to waste. 

It's all yours. I'll get out of your hair. 

Not if you need an escape. 

I need a lob-

You've got to stop saying that. How about instead of running, you stand up for yourself? 

I look at the ground. I think I did and they don't like that. 

Good girl. 

Don't say that. 

Sorry. I just don't want to see you get railroaded. 

Please tell me that isn't sexual. 

What? Oh, God, no. What I mean is this is your house and I see you struggling to find a way to fit into it sometimes. Someone is always watching you and following you. 

They kind of have to. 


In case I hurt myself. 

You're not going to do that. 

What if I do?

What if you don't? 

Yeah. What if I don't?

Then you live happily ever after. 

Where is the happily part, TJ?

It's coming. Gotta be patient, Bridge. Geez. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

The most atypical Monday.

Yesterday I feel like I posted as if every day is some flippant pool party. It isn't. Two minutes after Lochlan climbed out of the pool he and Caleb were engaged in yet another perceived slight, shoving each other back and forth, up in each others faces, Caleb tall and stronger, Lochlan more agile and braver than anyone. They wouldn't have noticed had I drowned at that point, and eventually I went up to the house, bringing all my things. That's how you know I'm not coming back.


I spent this morning by myself getting dirty, weeding the garden, spraying the tomatoes with copper, moving statues and concrete blocks around until I was happy with the arrangements of the day, hanging windchimes and bells, eating radishes straight out of the dirt and collecting enough basil leaves to dry that I'm not sure I'll ever need the rest, actually.

How long is it before you can subdivide a lavender plant again?

I have so many plans but not enough energy or patience. I also am bound by the weather. I've taken to doing just as much gardening in the pouring rain, in my raincoat and my rubber boots because I hate the heat. I don't want to be in the sun and yet the warmth of the soil is what is going to make everything grow.

The corn is almost as tall as me now. I'm so excited I could burst. I have a freezer full of cherries I don't know what to do with and every time we turn around there are more ripe strawberries. We're eating them as fast as we can.

When I ran out of energy and things to fuck with I came inside and PJ passed me a cold lemonade. I showed him the basil and he said he watched. I asked why he didn't help and he said it was my thing, that maybe it's good for me to just get out there alone. That he had a good eye on me, only losing me once when I went over the hill near the swing to check my experimental trees (one olive, one lemon, thank you) but I was right back because they seem okay, so far.

He asked what I wanted for lunch and I told him he could decide so he picked Mr. Noodles and I wondered if somewhere in Japan there's a ridiculously unpopular Mrs. Noodles and he said that's the shrimp one because of the pink package and we laughed until we cried. It wasn't even that funny so it must be the heat. Maybe it's the tension. I don't know. I need sleep. The coyotes kept me up last night and no, that's not a euphemism. They howled all night with their tiny high-pitched plaintive wails that always make me wonder if they are babies but then I am told that's what they sound like, even full grown.

Sunday, 26 June 2016


It was hot this morning before I finished breakfast (homegrown strawberries and raspberries and coffee) and so I changed into my pale pink bikini with the ruffles and a gold tiny horseshoe necklace and skipped church in order to worship at the house of chlorine and concrete.

Seems fitting, as the weather recently has been terrible and this week is supposed to be hot sun, so I broke out my new bottle of SPF 150000000 and a big floppy hat and have plans to hide out under the covered lounge chair every day.

Sam understood. He said consensus seems to be in favor of us spending some time apart. He returned to church today in his board shorts and a flannel shirt (because he's adorable like that), planning to talk about being perfect imperfect. I know that sermon. I've heard it before. He isn't worried about us-us. We'll be okay. He said me throwing myself to the wolf to take the pressure off probably wasn't the greatest idea but I think now that it was as I lower myself into the stinging blue water, my scrape screaming through the rest of my flesh, Caleb watching from the side with concern, his bare chest a rainbow of bruises in the shape of Lochlan's fists and the odd stair-step. We look like catastrophic accident victims at summer convalescent camp. We look tough, like survivors.

That's what we are.

I do one lap on my back and stop at the ladder. Caleb says I should do one more and I swear in his direction and get out. I'm a weak swimmer. I'm not a warrior. I'm not a fighter. I'm a withstander. I'm a with-stander. I'm a shadow sewn to the heels of a Peter Pan with red hair and freckles who I see step out of the patio doors suddenly. He walks down the steps and shields his eyes from the sun and I lift mine up to shield them in case he signals to me, one band in place today on my finger because he is indecisive and took the other one away again upon suggestion. He takes off his shirt, and empties his pockets and then begins to run across the lawn. He does a handspring over the fence and then cannonballs into the pool with a holler, showering both the Devil and I with lovely cool water.

He surfaces, shaking his head hard, his curls coming loose from their grasp on his skull, forming big circles again before they get soaked again when he floats on his back.

Literally. This is the best, he says and it's very hard to disagree with him, in spite of everything.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

He looks it over carefully as I talk.

It's Swiss. You can probably take his initials off the back if you have access to a small grinder. 

Or I can repurpose them with other words. What should I use? You are the wordsmith.

I only know one other name that starts with X. 

Which is?

His brother's middle name was Xavier. 

I was thinking xenagogue. Do you know what that means, Bridget? 

No. I feel helpless and small standing near Skateboard Jesus. I feel transparent.

It's a tour guide, a person who conducts a stranger, as it were. 

(Oh, perfect.)

So you bring me an expensive watch, and in exchange I will give you priceless advice. Watch your memory thief. 


Do thieves only take the things you want them to take? 


No, of course not. They take the things that are precious to you. Irreplaceable, valuable things. They violate you and leave you with holes that can never be filled. You ask for your lobotomies, your do-overs, but you don't know the price of these things, Bridget. Think hard before you let the thief in amongst the gold. 

What if it's too late? 

I don't think it is. What if the Devil comes looking for his watch? 

He won't. I'm sure he's already bought a new one. How do you know it isn't too late? 

The carnival girl is alive and well. Takes the watch off a rich man to give to a poor man. That's exactly something you would do and something a blank slate wouldn't do. And now if you'll excuse me, he checks his watch, I'm late and I gotta go. He jumps on his skateboard and is gone against traffic with a wink, hair flying out over his shoulders, worn backpack snug against his shoulders. I try to follow his progress but I've already lost him in the crush of trucks and lights.

Friday, 24 June 2016

(A very) Civil war.

I fell asleep wrapped around Ben. I found him in his big chair in front of the board, doing nothing really, not even listening, and I climbing into his lap and shoved my knees down the sides of his seat and wrapped my arms around his neck and fell asleep like a festival-weary four-year-old without a word.

I woke up in a Lochlan and Ben sandwich, safe in my own bed, two bands stacked on my finger, Ben's arm across my head, his hand wrapped around Lochlan's head.


Mentally this morning I am exhausted. I have concrete in my veins. I called Caleb to make sure he was okay and he asked if I was okay first. He said he got hammered a second time in one day via the stock market thanks to Brexit. Loch took my phone and hung up on him. Loch figures there will be another Scottish referendum now but first there has to be a Bridget referendum. We've got to sort this out because he can't go barging around using his temper as a weapon.

Oh, like you're using sex? He asked. He's clipped and tired too this morning. Everyone else holds their breath. You could reach out and pluck the point like a string this morning and play a lead that would break your heart.

August reminded him oh so quietly that this would be difficult if only for exactly these reasons. Sex is a weapon. And a tonic. And a curse. And a drug. And a reason. And a nightmare. And a panacea too.

(I'm amazed at how open these discussions have become. Like breakfast table conversation, all casual-like. Christ. Shoot me please.)

I want her back the way she was. 

Which year? 

Jesus. He thinks. 1981. 

(Before. Before everything. Everything except him.)

I burst into tears again and he folds me into his arms and says No, don't, Bridgie. No more. I don't think you've got anything left. You're going to dry up and blow away.

Sam asks if we'd like to come and have a tea out on the porch. Sort some things. Get a refresher, as it were, with he and August together. Joel called to come but we turned him down. Lochlan nods. I lost my cool. 

You didn't have any to begin with, Red. Ben tells him. And I don't blame you. She is worth more than anything on earth to me and I don't know how you do this as it is. 

I didn't get a choice,
Lochlan says.

Thursday, 23 June 2016


Got my ring back. Got my Ben back.

Only took fifteen hours of intense negotiation, hostages included.

Utopia indeed.

Update: Nevermind. Loch says I misinterpreted a concession that Ben didn't coerce me into going to see Caleb, and that the ring is back, the Ben will not be and that I need to listen better. That we can pawn it with the watch and fund the future, probably, if either of us survive the present but probably not because we'll probably both explode from stress and heartbreak. That Things have to change, Bridget. This isn't working. It's killing both of us and we've come too far to let this happen now.

I'm going to bed. Alone. Somewhere where he isn't. I can't breathe. I can't think anymore. I just want everything to stop for a while.

Breitling for sale. Cheap. Well, maybe not. CXC engraved on the back, though I can sand that off.

We're just home from the hospital this morning. Let me choose my words carefully here. Lochlan knew I was relatively intact and safely locked in our wing and so he went right past Ben and over to the boathouse. Word has it Caleb came out to see him and took a tumble down the steps, ironically raising his arms to protect his head and scraping his face quite badly with his watch, which he then gave to Lochlan, because he no longer wants it, it is cursed or dangerous or something and so it will be pawned off cheaply. Loch said Caleb told him to sell it for a hundred bucks. I think we can do better than that but he won't see any of it.

I got off easy, my leg is just one big long scab this morning and it didn't even actually bleed ever. Caleb required fourteen stitches and the attention of a plastic surgeon. He also had a host of body contusions from his fall that were not in need of medical attention but they put him on an EKG and kept him for observation for a few hours after the fact. He will be resting for a few days and is never allowed to see me again because I shouldn't be around people so clumsy.

That won't hold but I appreciate the sentiment.

I don't appreciate Ben's banishment though. He's gone. Done. Lochlan said it's over. That whatever goddamned games Ben is playing with me have ended now. The absences. The drinking. The sharing. The psychological warfare. The oneupmanship. All of it. Finished. Take off the ring. You've now had three marriages end now, call it official, this is done, kiss him goodbye, he's over, no, stop crying, Jesus CHRIST, Bridget, kind of order that I don't even want to think about right now.

I could have said no before we left the house. It isn't all Ben's fault.

(They will tell you it is because of the damage, because I'm not responsible and that ruined people don't have to be accountable for anything. I don't think that's quite right.)

You'll change your mind later. You love him too. 

I love him, Bridget, but I love you more and I can't do this anymore. 

I made him go. 

That doesn't matter. 

It's me you can't trust. 

I understand that. 

You chose poorly, I think. 

You let me worry about that. 

It was a real bad fall, was it? 

The worst. I felt so helpless.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

(Oh that? That's not the mark of the Devil. It's the mark of his ten thousand dollar watch.)

DON'T. Just.. I know.

(I think I've been branded.)

Neamhchiontach. You're here.

I don't know why. I'm not ready to forgive you or start this again. I'm still so angry with you and we haven't really dealt with any of -

He takes my arms and walks me backwards gently until I am pressed against the door. Ben doesn't say a word but he hasn't missed a move, watching from just inside the alcove. Caleb's fingertips slide around my head, behind my ears as he bends his head down for a kiss. Pinned like a specimen moth. I can't breathe. He slides his fingers flat underneath my jaw, lifting me up by my head, sliding me up the door until we see eye to eye and then he stops, leaving me pinned there, one hand still wrapped around my neck, cutting off my air before sliding the other down around my hip, underneath my thigh, his Breitling scraping deep against delicate skin. He steps in even closer and brings his other hand down under my other thigh and I can breathe again but not for long.

Another kiss and he asks how long we have. This is the routine. It's hardly changed in decades.

People in my family live forever, not so sure about yours, I tell him defiantly, sadly even as he removes one hand again, this time to pull my dress up further. I scream and the hand comes back up, not over my mouth but around my neck, squeezing just enough as his mouth presses against my ear.

Hush, baby. No screaming. No noise. You know how to do this. Ben won't let anything bad happen to you.

And he pushes my chin up away from his mouth, kissing along my throat as he drives against me. I can feel Ben's eyes crawling over us like darkness and it hurts. I can feel everything and it hurts. The betrayal. The permission. The violence of this. The same way it always is. I try to leave and he keeps me here, his hand still around my face, now centering it right in front of his, nose to nose while he almost (but not quite) loses his breath.

Stay with me, Doll.

I wrap my arms around his neck and he takes us to his bed. I am not tied down but instead left comfortably on my back on the mink blanket I love so much. His elbows frame my head as he kisses me softly.

Do you want Ben here?

He decides.

Caleb lifts his head and looks back toward Ben. I can't see him from here. I hear him say he's fine where he is. He never pushes me too hard. I get overwhelmed easily.

If you change your mind, you tell me, okay?

I nod and my eyes well up almost involuntarily. Caleb scares me more when he is understanding and generous, kind, almost. It would be easier if he had left me up against the door and choked me into submission. Then I would know exactly how to feel.

What's wrong, Bridget?

Ta tu fos ar an diabhal, ta me fos an neamhchiontach!

(Lochlan's been muttering it under his breath for weeks now: Ta se fos ar an diabhal, ta tu fos ar an neamhchiontach! He is still the devil, you are still an innocent! is the gist. I'm just repeating it back to Caleb. You are still the devil. I am still the innocent!)

You haven't done anything wrong, Baby. Ben is right there. Caleb sits up and they look at each other and I lose my mind.

I need to go. I want to go home now. Benny- I start to struggle and Caleb holds me down.



Not yet.

I push against his hold but I know better. He loves the fight. Eventually I settle back on the fur and stare through the skylight at the trees. At the strawberry solstice moon. It can't save me either. Not from this. My only defense is to pretend I don't care.

Ben settles back in his chair in the dark (crisis perverted) and Caleb resumes our show. I'm not moving but I don't dare fall asleep or then there would really be hell to pay and I can barely afford the portion I get now.

On the way out Ben swears and asks Caleb if he's capable of ever sending me home without injury and Caleb asks what the fun would be in that, truthfully. That he does it to remind Lochlan who's boss.

On the way across the driveway Ben asks me if the cut from the watch hurt and I tell him with Caleb it's better to feel pain than fear. I don't wait to see the look on his face and head straight inside.

On the way upstairs Lochlan finds us (he's holding my phone) and asks me where the hell I've been for the past three hours. I direct him to Ben and keep walking.

I hear yelling as I close the door to our room so I lock it for good measure. I keep locking doors as I walk through rooms and down halls until I get to the bathroom and then I lock that door too. I strip out of my dress in front of the full length mirror and turn. His steel watch strap has cut a deep gouge across the outside of my thigh and underneath my leg. I think I need stitches. I don't know what I need.