Friday, 12 August 2016

Collectors and defectors.

I haven't slept yet. Our hours of languishing flat out on the sand last night on the big round beach blankets watching shooting stars was followed with a night of being passed back and forth, being held up, being held down and being turned over so many times gravity ceased to be a factor because I couldn't tell which end was up. I became a falling star overnight only when I came back through the atmosphere I was supercharged instead of destroyed.

Ben could tell which end was up, thankfully, and he was anxious to reconnect in a new way. He likes it dirty and rough and difficult and by the time they stopped fighting over me I had flutters and shakes and was bathed in sweat. True to form they both fell asleep while I was in the (autoclave) shower and when I came out, Lochlan was flat on his back, snoozing deeply and Ben was almost spooning with him, one hand holding the top of Lochlan's head, the other holding my pillow against his chest firmly.

I wish I could post photos of that. I take them, I just can't share them.

Ben looks good though. The dark circles are gone and so is the beard. I thought I was throwing him under the wagon, marrying Lochlan but it seemed to calm him down, as if all the vigilance and strategizing of the past eight years can be relaxed at last.

I left them sleeping and went to find a bottomless mug of coffee.

Eventually they surfaced and right away, Loch asked me to come back upstairs.

Jesus, you're a machine. 

I wish. I have something for you, he said.

Upstairs we went where he went and pulled a largeish flat box out from underneath the bed and set it on the bed.

Open it. He smiles at me almost shyly.

I open it. Oh my holy water. Inside? At least a dozen pastel sets of the most beautifully soft vintage lingerie I've ever seen, far over the cashmere and velvet outfits he burned yesterday. It's all in perfect new condition and all in my size. I try on everything. Not a stitch is amiss, not a seam puckers or lifts. Uncanny. The slips fit like gloves. The garters are the perfect length. The bras contain everything yet still manage to be completely scandalous. I look almost..I mean...kinda sexy almost. He sits quietly, watching my fashion show, admiring my skin in between trips to the mirror. Hell, I'm admiring myself right now. Geez.

How did you-wait, when did you do this?

I've been adding to this collection for years. I've found pieces in Europe and the US but it was hard to find such small sizes so it's taken a long time but I knew I wanted to make the most beautiful collection for you.

And Caleb found out and beat you to it. 

He heard me telling PJ a while back that I wanted to go one better than Jacob and all that lingerie he bought for you that you liked. But Cale cheated. Everything was new again. That's not the same. Money can buy whatever. This is history. None of this is younger than 1960. I remember you looking at those retro Vaudeville girls on the sideshow. I remember you saying everything you wore would be velvet and satin and beautiful. I don't forget anything you say.

I can't believe he did that. 

Bridget, our entire history is steeped in his concentrated efforts to ruin everything for me but it didn't work. I have everything now and I want you to have everything. I want to spoil you for anyone else so that you will only be mine. I want to give you everything I couldn't give you before. 

Can we still have cheeseburgers though? I like eating those with you.

As many as you can eat. 

We both say half a one at the same time and he smiles so wide, eyes glistening that I loose my composure in the neatly stitched ribbons and ruffles.

I kiss him hard, wavering slightly. I still can't feel my legs but at least I look good.



Thank you. I don't even know which set to wear first. 

We'll pick, each day. How does that sound?


Love you, Peanut. Glad you're finally old enough to wear some of this. 

Wait, how many years were you collecting it for? 

The first two sets I found in 1982. 


Yeah, before Jake. Before everything. I mean, it looks now like I'm just copying everybody but I was-

You were here first. 

Yeah. I was. And I'm back. And I still love you as much as ever. 

How much is that?

More than anyone would even comprehend if ever they stopped to consider.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

It's Perseid time!! Get your asses outside!

The velvet bonfire.

True to his word, he set it all ablaze. True to his word he left his fists at his side and instead asked me again to be different. To be that little girl he used to know before time and experience turned me into a stranger to him. True to his word he asked but did no push. True to his word he gave my name as his though it hasn't changed yet.


I'm thinking about it.

What do I wear? I asked this morning in between the flames of sunrise.

Nothing, he said. And he laughed without letting his eyes in on the joke and we stood and watched the light change into something new and I was completely comfortable in my own skin while he roiled and tossed in his.

We were soon joined by the Devil, who came out to watch the fire, hands in his pockets, unreadable expression masked by forced joviality.

I see the renovations have begun. You going to light her counselors on fire too? Gosh, maybe we should take before and after pictures. The new and improved Bridget, version 4.0. Find the difference. Oh, right. There isn't one.

Lochlan didn't say anything, having escaped into the roar of the flames, blocking out the cold.

I turn to Caleb. He does what he needs to do.

As do you, clearly. Logic and Impulse. You two won't make it a month.

We've only been inseparable for three decades.

She puts no weight in your presence, Doiteain. The word is drawn out to make a point.

Things take time.


Diabhal, go inside. Please.

I'm fine, thanks, Neamhchiontach. If he's going to try to destroy what I've built then I'll undermine what he builds. She won't change for you, Brother. She's still going to go to them and then eventually she's going to come back to me. I wired her this way for a reason. That reason wasn't you.

I can get her back.

You already HAVE me back!

You can't keep her. That's the problem. But good effort. Impressive show, as usual. For that, I'll give you full credit. He throws a twenty into Lochlan's top hat, which rests upside down on the ground near his feet, and turns and walks away.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Late than never.

I couldn't think of a better Wednesday.

I spent an exorbitant amount of time today in an artist's loft in the middle of nowhere on the sunshine coast. I found a kindred spirit and a great place to explore. I ate crab cakes and drank cheap coffee and crawled over logs in the woods and strolled along new beaches and nodded carefully as people pointed out that life is short. I nodded like I understood their lesson without educating them on how I already know these things. I listened well.

It was a most perfect day but we were home on the after-supper ferry and I turned back into a small pale pumpkin as the sun set somewhere over my right shoulder, far behind me. Lochlan kissed the top of my head and asked if I had fun and I did. Unequivocally.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Horizon lines.

You're okay with this? 

They had a thing long before we did. We were familiar faces far from home. That was it. There was no expectation that it would continue once we left. That's why they're getting together. She's not the one that got away or anything like that. August is easy, casual when he speaks about Erin and Christian. I wonder briefly if he's ever been in love. Tell me about Loch. How is he faring now that you're home? Right back to work I see.

A week is all we could have right now. He's...He wants me and the kids to change our name to his.

You can't blame him, Bridge. Any label he can put on you to tell the world you're his is a given at this stage. 

It never crossed my mind. Not since I was twelve and used to practice my signature with his last name. I didn't think it mattered anymore.

He runs his hand up my thigh. So warm. The bed shifts, swaying against his weight. I put my hand up and run it over his hair. The waves stick up after I smooth them. Just like Jake's.

He wants me to get rid of all the velvet things Caleb had made for me too. 

That I can see. Not sure how that ever got past him in the first place. He slides his arms around me. He's not gentle. He doesn't notice the brief alarm in my eyes. I shift my weight to bear him and he lands the most preoccupied, absent kiss against my shoulder. Christian's revelation bothers him. Lochlan's sudden rules bother him. I think everything bothers him but he keeps it in a locked room in his head and instead takes on my problems and bears the brunt of my issues like a trooper. Like a champ. My new best friend. My reluctant living ghost.

Maybe Caleb is right and I'm creating a monster. 

Lochlan's not a monster, Bridge. He's just a man, like the rest of us. Only I'm pretty sure you're the hardest thing he's ever had to juggle, seeing how hard it is just to hold you. 

I didn't mean Lochlan. I meant me. 

Just be quiet now. He covers my mouth with his and the conversation is over. His long strokes against me make the bed begin to rock ever so slightly. A cool breeze reaches my skin from the windows facing the water. I arch my back, pressing myself into him, calling him by the wrong name, forcing him to conform to a memory when he just wants to be a man like the rest of them.

But I won't let him be less than what I've made him into. Not yet. Maybe soon though. And I don't play by the rules. I did that once before and I'll never do it again.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Future Navy seal.

Christian's teaching me to swim. Or I should say, Sam did, in the end.

It's true. Christian had said he was tired of seeing me dogpaddling around the point to get back to the beach after being thrown off the cliff. He said I look like a terrified four-year-old the minute someone lets go of me. He said that should change and since we have a pool with a shallow and a deep end, it's time. Before Halloween, he says.

I have my red cross badges up to green. I'm not afraid of water, per se. Just the dark murky water that I can't see the bottom of. So he promptly threw me off the scary side of the cliff into the dark murky water that I can't see the bottom of and I screamed so loud something snapped in my head and then he proceeded to yell instructions I couldn't hear because I was fighting not being dragged to my death by the invisible monsters just below me. I frantically dogpaddled the whole way around back to the beach and then I asked him to fuck off and die.

(Rock climbing went much the same way, if you remember. He dropped my lines so I went plunging down the face of the cliff (a different cliff) and told me to recover. And Jacob punched him in the face afterward.

Christian is the only adrenaline junkie we have left who is as extreme as one can get.)

You'll be single forever. I tell him after the second throw. And PJ came out and told him the pool is where he can teach me and God help him if he scares me like that again.

I have a girlfriend, he tells me with a smile in the shallow end. My safe space, they call it with a laugh. The water's up to my neck. We don't do shallow, Caleb told me when the pool was being built. Besides, the children are taller than you.

Goddamn it.

He didn't turn out to be much of a teacher. Oh, and he's dating Erin (Jacob's sister) again long distance. They're talking, he says. That means dating, I tell him. They've done this dance before. I'm so happy I forget he's an asshole, especially when Sam offers to take over. We're both somewhat relieved. I love Christian to death but he's very heavy handed when it comes to me. It doesn't work.

No, I never dated or slept with him. That's probably part of the problem.

I would guess. I've known you since you were eight. At some point you're going to have to be brave, Bridget. 

I am brave! I cry.

Then swim in your precious sea, he says as he turns to go back to the house.

Sam is the complete opposite. I get lessons beginning with simple strokes, including him physically holding me up in the water, turning my head to breathe and my arms to do mock-crawls so I get the motion and the timing down. Then backstroke. Floating properly. Treading water properly. Proper dog paddle (fingers together, Bridget, or you're wasting energy!)



Butterfly. Which is terrifying. But I can almost do it now. Kind of.

It'll be years before you're ready for the Olympics, Bridge. 

That's okay. I just don't want it to take half an hour to get back to the beach when Duncan can do it in three minutes. 

He's six three! And he'll take you with him anyway. 

No one likes that, Sam. 

Then do your front crawl and you'll be fine. We'll keep practicing but you did great. By Halloween you'll be a pro. Are you tired?

No, I'm good. Thank you for the lesson. But I wrapped myself in one of the giant pendleton towels we keep in the poolshed and curled up exhausted in one of the chaises and slept until lunchtime in the shade.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Sam said doubt is not the opposite of faith but I don't know if I believe him.

Caleb is aghast.

What have you done, Neamhchiontach?

Tempted fate and was rewarded, Diabhal. Why are you home so soon?

You planned this. I had to come back.

I was as surprised as you.

You admitted you and Ben changed the rules. You've been planning this for a long time.

I didn't know Lochlan was going to propose when he did but there was no reason to wait to get married once he did.

The word 'married' rocks Caleb visibly and he sits down heavily on the stool by the counter. What have you done?

I did what I wanted.

What about me?

What about you! What do you want from me?

Everything, Bridget. And now he's going to lock you down.

And rightly he should, maybe?

Wait until he leaves Ben out in the cold.

He won't. We've got it sorted out.

He looks at me with some indescribable rage. Bridget, you have no idea what's coming. He'll be worse than Jake. He's had that much longer to take care of you, to take responsibility for you. It's going to be something we never imagined and it's going to blow your life apart. 

He's fixing it. It's going to be the way it was. 

Between him and I and everything else it's never going to be that way again. He sold you a fairy tale but it wasn't his to sell. 

Whose was it? 

Pardon me?

Whose fairy tale was it?

It's yours, Neamhchiontach, but you refuse to take responsibility for it. And if you can't, I have to. It's not safe with someone who sets things on fire for a living. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016


You were supposed to give me another month. 

I couldn't stay away under the circumstances. Neamhchiontach, what have you done?

Friday, 5 August 2016

Part II: Keeper of the flame.

(Life is real. We've made some big changes.)

I loved you from the first time I saw you, and I love you now. You're my fire, the fire that burns inside me and I want to take care of you for the rest of our lives. This is our second chance, Baby and we need to take it. Marry me. Make me the happiest man alive. You're the love of my life. My fire. Please.

He lets go of me, dropping to his knees, holding my hands in his. The quilt lands in the grass. My blood hardens in the cold and then instantly, painfully ecstatically liquefies once more. The fire roars through my skull, lighting the dark along the way, flooding out the monsters and the rage and the grief. The quiet that remains is striking and abrupt. I nod because I can't speak.

He opens the box, fumbling again. It's started to rain and the wind has picked up and the fire struggles but prevails. Fate.

Please tell me that's a yes, Peanut.

Yes, I whisper it because I don't trust my voice.

You saved my life. He slips the ring on my finger. It comes to rest on top of the band he gave me after we were symbolically married in a tiny private ceremony with Benjamin, years ago.

I hold up my hand. It's a heart-shaped diamond. Our second chance beats in ice and carbon. It's beautiful and it's time.


I don't like big weddings. Not sure if you noticed (snort). This one took place in Coney Island, on the beach in the shadow of the Circus sideshow. Then we went straight to the Wonder Wheel. It was the most perfect place I could envision on short notice to marry Lochlan (for real, FOR REAL this time) and it had to be right. We were there just long enough for our short ceremony and a bunch of rides and then it was done. Sam performed the ceremony. Ben stood beside me too. Schuyler, Daniel and PJ came to be witnesses and because we wanted them with us.

We had a picnic of hotdogs and wedding cake on the beach. Then we drove to Montauk and had a few nights of a honeymoon alone while everyone else flew home. We stood and stared at each other on the porch of our cottage rental wondering if we would be able to get along, finally, at long last now that we're together. Officially.

After a long time there Lochlan nodded. We'll be fine. I love you. That's all I care about right now.

Ben and I very deliberately, quietly divorced a long time ago (almost two years ago, actually) and I didn't say anything because I couldn't. The pressure is off him though he said he intends to continue everything as always but maybe not feel so much guilt if he winds up spending six days straight in his studio or falls off the wagon or wants to tour or something that causes distance.

The distance would still be felt if you're not here, I tell him and his eyes well up. He's still mine. He always will be mine. But he maintains he took the opportunity as a placeholder because he wanted this for us and I wasn't ready but it wasn't the grand experiment that he makes it sound like. He still loves me so. He just knew if he hadn't taken my heart when the time came someone else would have and our chances would have evaporated, maybe forever.  It's intense, this love with Lochlan. We're intense together and intense apart and there's that trouble of getting along and I wish I could see the future the way I can see the past. I don't know. And there are other factors at play here. I worry. I still have a lot of fear of the unknown. Caleb's threats don't fade. I don't know what happens next but the deed is done.

Lochlan and I are finally legally, legitimately married to each other.


(It's not sinking in. At all. Pinch me. Wait, no, maybe slap me. Something.) 

Ben is going to be my boyfriend but only because that was one of the things I wouldn't budge on. Though he thought I should cut him completely loose I maintain that our hearts are (and our bed is) plenty big enough and somehow more weird if he isn't there. Lochlan is on board with this (Yes, surprise.) You would be too if you were him. He goes back to being Alpha everything and my precious little twelve-year-old heart is quieted. Happy at last.

Right where you should have been all along, Peanut.

But I can't see where he means because I'm blinded by the sun. It's in the shape of a heart. My heart. I got everything I ever wanted and didn't have to lose everything that was left in the process.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

We're home! More tomorrow. I'm zonked and all I smell is plane fuel on our clothes so I need to go bathe and sleep. So happy to be home. Not happy to find Caleb beat us here by an hour or two but I'll deal with him tomorrow too, if he lets me.

I have so much to tell you.