Monday, 8 May 2017

Best laid.

(I promise this is the last post about Burning Man for a while. Cross my heart.)
You can split yourself into two halves
One is watching while the other one reacts
You can play any part you like
Tell me who you want to be tonight

Close your eyes and take a breath and wait a beat
Open them and let it out and look at me
No really look at me
No really look at me
He's smiling unabashed, all his teeth showing. Crazy-excited. Stupidly, eagerly looking forward to taking me away. A pre-birthday trip for him. A bucket list for me. And as usual, Lochlan has no time at all for the naysayers, the cautious lot, the ones telling him it's a bad idea. This is familiar territory to him. He gets an idea for an adventure and everyone's on board, approves and encourages him until he tells them he's taking me with him.

I can't wait to throw fire with you again. 

I match his expression and let all of my teeth see the light too. We probably look insane in the darkness. We've been whispering for hours this morning. I keep falling asleep midsentence and then he stops whispering, talking normally and I wake up and jump right back into the conversation. I have no idea what we're talking about other than some vague promise that he's going to let me burn myself all to smithereens again, like he did at the beginning of our Freak Show turn, when we ended half our shows laughing hysterically with blackened fingers and noses and chins, singed hair and some sort of deathwish unfulfilled. He rejigged the whole thing into an x-rated/adults-only show, we upped our prices, found safety and depravity and sold out every single remaining night without a burned finger to be seen every again. We found our niche.

But since we'll be performing for free (or for food! Or maybe fireworks! Or GLITTER! as I see it) he'll let me loose with the torches too which means...

I have to practice.

(He's never going to let me practice.)

(Not in a million years.)

You don't need to practice. We'll wing it. It's like riding a bike. 

I can't ride a bike.

Oh yeah. Well, fuck.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Blushing bribes.

Sam and I slept right through his alarm this morning because the alarm was set on his phone which was on his bedside table and he wasn't in his bed, he was in ours. Sort of a sometimes-usual-common thing these days as everyone seems to sleep better, he and I included and no one else (meaning Ben or Lochlan) seem to mind.

I think Caleb probably minds. Maybe August minds. I bet Matt minds too but they're not here, they're in their own spaces and this is mine and I do who I want. I mean what I want. I mean it's none of anyone's business.

Until we realize church has started and no one's leading it.

He might have skidded into the sanctuary with tie askew, belt missing entirely, jacket inside out and lipstick on his neck. He might have gone on righteous auto-pilot, weaponized minister level red, chucking out platitudes and placitudes like cards from a seasoned dealer and he might have had the whole church talking for his somewhat sheepish, breathless and bed-headed delivery of a sermon I don't think he prepared or remembered after the fact.

But we have no regrets because we're awful and we're all going to hell anyway, right? I asked him when he finally made it back to the point and he laughed.

Nope. Not a one. Don't worry though. I won't let you go there. I have an in. 

You think that will hold at this rate?

Good question.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Oh. My.

Got the coolest birthday present a girl could ask for and it's divided the entire house right down the middle.

Burning Man tickets. 


I get to go FINALLY!

The list of people who are completely on board with that is exactly who'd you expect and the list of people who think it's a bad idea/dangerous/ridiculous is yup, exactly who you'd expect to be against it as well. The whole thing isn't up for debate and I'm already planning my wardrobe. August just laughed and laughed at my excitement and said Boots, a dust mask, goggles and very little else and you'll fit right in. 


Friday, 5 May 2017

Birthday girl.

Summers come and go so fast
Close your eyes the moment's past
And another year is gone
We built our castles in the sand
The higher tide had other plans
But I'm still holding on
And love was a fragile song
When I wasn't looking another year slipped through my fingers and fell into the void and I stand on the edge wondering how I can be so foolish, how I'm still too busy falling in love every day to fall in line.

The Devil left us just before six, heading down the main staircase and outside around the front to the Boathouse, in order just to keep the peace if nothing else. God knows, we keep the war raging so much, it's nice to have a sea change. It's nice to have everyone set aside their fundamental not-that-different differences for the sake of a special occasion.

It's nice to be the focus for a good reason instead of for my mistakes. It's nice to be celebrated, not as God's grand experiment but instead as a girl who was born at sea level thirty-five minutes after midnight under the most stubborn star sign in the galaxy. I always live up to that label even as I can hardly reach or keep up the other ones.

Today I'll simply keep the label in my title, because it means cake later.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Zero, one, two, three (four days without you).

Ben came in and woke me up the hard way, lifting me out of bed while I was still asleep, heading for the door of our room, loudly proclaiming that the pool is ready and he knows how much I like to swim early.

Ben! Christ! I start laughing but now he's heading out the door. I need my swimsuit! Don't you dare go downstairs! 

Come on. I'll swim naked if you will. 

Sure, but I'm not parading through the house that way. 

We've done it before, he winks.

Did you clear the floor? (Meaning everyone is asked to leave the area so we can sneak through indisposed if necessary. It happens once or twice a year only, I swear.)

No, but I'm sure some of them have already seen what little you have to offer. 


I meant you're so little, they'll probably miss any really good parts. 

That isn't what you meant! Put me down! I need to go get my swimsuit and a hair tie.

SO MUCH TROUBLE. All this for a swim. He pretends to talk to his wrist. Plan Bee is a go. I repeat, plan Bee is a go.

Is there even water in the pool? 

Yes. The guys were here last night servicing the heater and getting it all ready. It should be full and warm already. 

Oh, I'm so down for this. 

Well, I thought you would be but we're still here talking about it.

Shut up and tie my bows, please? 

Thought you'd never ask. Let's get this show on the road. It's supposed to start raining at three.

I don't think we'll be outside until three. I haven't even had breakfast. 

I'll have PJ bring out something. 

Good luck pulling that off. 

For a shot at seeing you in your birthday suit? He'll do it. 

Conveniently, my birthday is tomorrow. 




Wednesday, 3 May 2017


Lying on the floor or in the grass looking up. That's where it's at. Inside, I can look at the tiny lights that crisscross plaster alabaster skies. Outside it's the real deal, stars millions of light years away, souls or planets or maybe both reminding me that I'm just one. Just small. Just quiet. Just here trying to find my way through when I can't navigate to save my soul. That's not a bad thing, as my soul is kept elsewhere anyway. I still have enough of it to be me but not enough of it to feel complete.

The dampness from the grass is seeping into my jeans and sweater. My toes are icy, my hair is in my eyes and yet I can't come in when they call me. I'm paralyzed by these stars, awed by my insignificance and loathe to turn off this song before it's finished, one earbud stuck firm into my skull, the notes stroking my brain, calming it from it's frenzied, endless screaming into a faint whimper no one can hear any more, least of all me. That's the important part. That's the part that methodically puts the pity in their eyes ahead of blatant want. That's the part that gives everyone pause enough to give me leeway far beyond what is average and latitude beyond measure.

Leave him there. Shut the door and don't listen anymore. Lochlan's words into the other half of my skull remain piled up against a door that won't open so he can't even get through. I need to save them from me. I need to protect them against this monster who looks so sweet even as she's sending them to their deaths, making them think too hard, feel too much, and love hopelessly, their faith mislodged in the wrong spirit, their mistakes hardly a blip on a radar that seems to point directly to me.

Stargazing and navel-gazing go hand in hand. My back is soaked. My hands are wet, leaving a streak of green across my cheek as I pull the hair out of my mouth. It's windy and beautiful tonight. It's loud on the inside, dark on the outside and perfect for Bridget. Just perfect.

I can't help it, I tell him and the despair on his face hammers me into the ground. I've got a good grip on the edge of this hole. As long as I can still see out I'll be just fine. As long as I can still see stars.
If I could
Yes I would
If I could
I would
Let it go

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Fight or...flight.

Hey. Jake is leaning against the jeep in the rays of light pouring in through the high windows in the garage doors. Legs crossed, all the time in the world. His white blonde beard and pale blue eyes make my whole body hurt for what I had once before it slipped right through my fingers and fell too many stories to survive.

(I wasn't there to save him but I would have saved him if he'd let me.)

I don't answer him. My throat is dry. I feign coolness and shrug with a little wave. My brain thinks WWDD? (What would Duncan do?) and I opt to fake it until I make it. It's a pointless funny little coping mechanism they suggested when I feel weird in any situation.

And it doesn't work.

Bridget...PJ? What's going on there?

I shrug again. This time it isn't fake because I have no idea either. He gets lonely too. And he's very very good to all of us but especially me so...I don't know. It's not hurting anyone. 


Since when have you ever cared how Lochlan felt about anything? 

I care about you and how he reacts to the things you do. 

My safety isn't in question.

He laughs harshly. It's hard to watch you someti-

Then look away. Like the rest do when they need to. 

Why haven't you read the letters?

Another shrug. I've been busy. (Busy trying to learn to live without you. Busy trying to juggle a houseful of men. Busy trying to forget they're waiting for me. Busy trying to stay out of the hole I keep falling into.)

Are you going to read them? 

You could just tell me what they say, if you're waiting for some moment of illumination here. 

I'd like you to take your time and read them at your own pace. 

Right so twelve years from now. I'm not so quick, Jakey. The tough-girl mask dissolves and behind it waits the twelve-year-old who didn't even know Jake and doesn't understand how they can hurt her and then stand there and feign innocence. It led to a huge label that she wears now as a grownup. Neamhchiontach. Innocent, in Gaelic, tattooed from shoulder to shoulder across her back, just so there's no mistake. But hurt is by degree, and that wasn't hurt. That was betrayal. This. This is hurt. This hurts so bad I can't even breathe anymore.

The tears drown me but at least I can swim now. Thanks, Sam.

I gotta go. 

Back to PJ? Or Caleb? Hell, pick someone. 

I DID BUT HE DIDN'T PICK ME. This is your fault. All of it. This is some sort of human safety net so I don't take the easy way out like you did. I ask for help and I get it. So don't you DARE stand there and pass judgment on me, you fucking selfish asshole! 

Moments like this are the ones that tell me you're really okay, Princess. 

Well you're wrong, because I'm not. 

Peanut? You okay? I could hear you yelling from the driveway. Lochlan's in the doorway. I turn back around but Jacob's gone.

Just blowing off steam. 

Come talk to me while I fix the fuel pump. I heard every word, Sweetheart. I don't think you're finished yet. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Commodified (I must look dumb.)

August said Mercury's retrograde in Aries will be over in a couple of days and things will be back to normal. I haven't felt like myself in spite of all efforts to get rest and slow down and be healthy. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough or maybe I should listen to doctors instead of hippie social workers. He gave me my horoscope for the month while drinking Kombucha and listening to Dope Lemon.

(Dope Lemon is the shit. Seriously. I could listen to their albums all day. Wait, I am. Nevermind.)

But watch out for Pluto, he says and I remember I'm supposed to be taking notes. I haven't heard a thing in between Mercury and Pluto but if my diligent attention back in my earlier years when Lochlan taught me outer space onsite is of any use, the parts I missed are Mars, Venus, Earth, Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.

Hope I'm right.

I'll watch out for Pluto, I promise him instead and he smiles.

Good girl. 


The doctor came by anyway for the checkup he told me about two weeks ago that would happen this week but apparently I forgot. It's okay. We can look after it now, but here is also some correspondence from Mr. M_____. He hands me a smallish envelope. Bigger than a letter, smaller than a greeting card.

I get a good report. Blood tests because I look pale. More advice to take it easy, that I will indeed be very tired and low on energy and to eat well, drink lots and rest for a few more weeks. I nod soberly as if I'm totally doing all that. He says I'll be called with the results but to continue getting better. That pneumonia has a way of coming back around to wallop people. Though he didn't say wallop, I just envisioned this big black creature turning around, marching back and smacking me to the ground, where I'll writhe helplessly, trapped in a huge blob of translucent phlegm.


When he goes to give Caleb all of the private details of my checkup I open the envelope. It is indeed from Mr. M himself. Not from his secretary or his assistant either. He wants to know how I am feeling, that he's sorry to hear I'm under the weather and that if he can do anything, he's enclosed his private number, once again, on the card with this letter, to call him if I need anything.


Yeah. No.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Close to normal, just for you.

I sat down in the hard cold pew this morning. My skin sizzled and popped but I bore it without expression. PJ smiles a sly smile and holds up a loaf of bread so I can see it. God, what a mess. We're going to put slices in the collection plates today. Sam will try and figure out how to sweep or mop afterwards and give up quickly, asking me to call whichever cleaning service I call, because he won't look in the very comprehensive contact list I keep on the church computer for him. He hardly knows how to turn it on, preferring to bring his own laptop with him every day. He doesn't even have a receptionist currently. Says the church is hardly big enough for the four full-time people it employs now. He does most of it himself. I help him a lot. We get it done.

But on a day like this I feel like an outsider, a heathen. An anomaly. Maybe I am every day. Lochlan slides in beside me, tsks at PJ and grabs my hand, squeezing it warmly. He leans in and whispers against my ear, asking me if I'm warm enough. I shake my head. Churches are like movie theatres. I'm always cold in them. He puts his arm around me and pulls me close to him. He is warm all over. He kisses the side of my mouth and sits back comfortably to listen. Ben is in a few minutes later and squeezes my whole head with his hand as he edges past Lochlan and sits on my other side. PJ and John move down a bit for him. Ben takes my other hand and kisses the back of it before smiling at me. He keeps my hand in his, his leg pressed against mine. Hip to hip, hand to hand we all sit and listen as Sam spins an old yarn into a comforting wrap. A story with subtle but glaring metaphors, reminders, tips for life and instructions on how to be redeemed. It's back to standard issue sermons and the church is noticeably less-full than it was in the days leading up to Easter.

After church we all pile into a diner, taking up three tables and two booths. We order fried food and milkshakes, coffee and juice and we eat and laugh and plan the week (which won't be as busy as the last few) and the day too (which won't be busy at all) and then we scatter back to the trucks and form a line up the highway to home. Everyone disappears and Lochlan looks at me.

Horror movie? 

With you?



Say yes before I change my mind.
(Lochlan hates horror movies. Hates 'em. I keep telling him watching the Canucks earn their draft picks every year is more horror than a silly movie and he laughs and tells me I'm probably right.)

I made a quick call to the cleaning company we use for the church sometimes to come and sweep up all the bread crumbs and mop the sanctuary proper and then I head downstairs to join him.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Resulting in eleven hours of sleep.

I was pulled into warm arms reluctantly, lifted down into his lap, kissed gently and then harshly too, and largely ignored for my exhaustion. My shaky limbs were directed, as I was hauled in tight, legs draped over hips, arms looped around necks, shoulders kissed in a flush of darkness, for it coated me like a shroud.

Too tired, PJ. 

Shhhh, Bridget. Enjoy it. I will. 

I push at him but he just pins my arms in between us, palms against his chest, beard tickling my ears, my cheek. He tries to hold back but he can't and by the time he gives me back I'm raw and ruined. I can't feel my fingers anymore, can't tell you what day it is, might be far too drunk for anything resembling agreement and about to black through into morning.

They don't care.

I rewound the day in my head before I fell through the night to figure out how I got here. Oh right. I smiled. I said Sure, just one more though. I thought I meant drinks. They meant friends. Or maybe I have that backwards. Like I said, I don't know. I slept well though. Worth it.