Friday, 24 February 2017

In the woods by the sea.

(Nothing here is new.)

I'm trying to deep-breath it, trying to find the way back when my mind takes off running down any road that leads to Jake. Trying to separate the man who is here (August) from the man who is not (Jacob) and the extent of what pretending has done for my mental health thus far.

I've been absolved of what they thought was some sort of attempt to drown myself. I just wanted to feel the cold, feel the rain, be near the sea but there's in or out and I screwed up.

And no, Andrew and Christian's little surface love affair (or so they make it out to be) didn't set me off. Something else did. And that's okay. That's going to happen sometimes. I'm going to reel and yaw from things I can't control, things I find, things people say and do. It's how I react that makes the difference.

And I'm a runner.

Flight. I turn and take off. That's the plan. That's been the plan since I was young and it was drilled into my head:

If you get caught, Peanut, break free and run. 

If you feel scared, run and find me. 

If you need me, run and fetch me. 

And then later:

If you feel overwhelmed, running is good to clear your mind. 

And on and on. Now there's only so many places to run, and I am housebound and mostly feverish with cabins and claustrophobia and the general weirdness of being packed into the side of this hill with the parking lot out front and the houses peppered across the hills like afterthoughts and most of the time the beach, the ocean is the only release from that but it's not enough here. I can go down when I need to and survey my flat watery kingdom for miles and then I turn and everything catches up with me.

I made August into a clone of Jacob. I put him up on a pedestal and I demanded things of him he shouldn't have had to deal with and yet he keeps me in check. He pushes me away. He leaves in perfectly healthy intervals and it somehow destroys me, dredging up all of the heavy weight I'm always trying to shrug off so I can just keep running.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Charm and timing too.

On the upside, it wasn't a bone sticking out of Lochlan's sleeve, but the shredded sleeve of the white thermal long-sleeved shirt he was wearing underneath his flannel shirt. His sleeves were mangled as his arm hit the overcropping rock on the way in.

On the downside, he sliced his forearm open quite significantly. The doctor is more worried about infection, concerned as Lochlan holds at 103 degrees and I tried to tell them that's his resting temperature, that he's fire and the doctor just looked at me strange and upped his meds again. Lochlan refuses to get xrays and says his arm is just sore. It's probably broken again so we'll just wait him out.

 I'm being observed as it is because I lost consciousness under water (new personal best). Also I have eleven stitches in my shoulder and three at my hairline because of the same rock.

No one gave me any drugs though. PJ gave me a shot of vodka in the kitchen and then poured one over each wound as he stitched them himself. He asked me twenty questions and decided I didn't have a head injury but in any case I'll be watched closely. PJ should have been a crack ER doctor. Or maybe he is. Really good under pressure. I offered up duct tape and then the staple gun as alternatives to his sewing skills (my skills are better in flesh and in fabric) but he told me to shut the fuck up and take it like a man.

Indeed.

The beach from the driftwood house to the breakwater is off limits to me for life, Sam has been deemed completely compromised (I'll fight this later. It was Dalton who absently told me Cool when I told him I was going to the beach with Ben, who wasn't even home at the time or he would have gone with me whether I wanted him to or didn't) and August says he should have stayed on the East coast longer, as it's so much calmer than this.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Kites.

(Blame was laid thickly yesterday. The shouting carried across the water, fists flew, opinions were shoved to the floor and trampled on, kicked and beaten down. When the breaths came more ragged and the limbs were sore from the fight reason prevailed.

I am the only one at fault. Earn enough trust and become the only word necessary when I tell one that another will join me in my explorations, that everything is fine, that I have my world under control when in truth I'm clinging to the edge with whitened fingertips, feeling pure terror as it speeds up.)

I just wanted some time to myself. Maybe I still had my pride wounded by Christian's stinging words, maybe it's worth more to be able to think for five minutes without someone asking how I am. Maybe time isn't up, maybe there is no measure of time and there doesn't have to be improvement. Maybe I can wallow. Maybe I can just look out at the water and miss Jake without anyone trying to fix it.

I climbed up the rocks to the top and looked out over a roiling grey surface. It's raining. I wobble once and then before the alarm can even register I'm in the sea. On the wrong side of the breakwater where it's deep. I hit my head on the rocks beneath the surface, never even having time to register that I would never be able to defend myself against this. That they would think I did it on purpose. That I probably would have, save for the fact that I can't.

Lochlan hit the water at a thousand miles an hour, they say, drowning his flames, landing directly on me, knocking out whatever breath I had left, lifting me up out of the water with his bad arm before realizing he broke it again on the way in, smashing it hard on the same place I smashed my little head. August took me from Lochlan and then PJ pulled Lochlan out. That was the cold damp flannel. The voice I heard. It was August bringing me back to life while I continued to fight to swim to wherever Jake was, except he isn't there anyway and it was a wasted rescue. Lochlan finally can't take it anymore and shoves in to cradle my head. My eyes are cloudy and red. My throat aches so bad. My limbs feel like concrete. He clutches his arm against his side. There's a bone sticking out of his arm, right through his sleeve. He's bleeding everywhere. PJ swears. Lochlan laughs and swears back. Then he looks down at me again. He isn't laughing.

Where were you going?

I shake my head. It doesn't matter what I say. There's no right answer. Nothing I can say that will save his heart from breaking. Nothing we can do to prevent this inevitable return to form in spite of best efforts. No amount of time is fixing this. Everything is a distraction. Eventually the glare returns and I squint at reality. I can make this Utopia virtually bulletproof and Jacob still kills me every single day.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Life among the dead.

It was the smell that triggered a fresh wave of heartbreak, a nostalgic ache that brought me to the ground where I remained on my knees, wet earth soaking into my skin, no desire to keep moving, no light to do it in.

I sank down into the water as it rose, rushing across the crumbling concrete, bringing with it waterlogged leaves and matchstick branches, washing over the moss in a torrent of spring.

I hear Sam's reminders in my head but they don't mean a thing. These are my tears. I'm going to drown. I can't control this. I can't catch my breath. Can't move. Can't recover. Can't talk myself out of it. Can't wait to die. Can't cope with him not being here. Ashamed of myself. Desperate. Ruined.

I squeeze my eyes closed. It's raining so hard now. Everything is blackened and dim, muted by the storm I made as I lay down with my cheek against the hard surface. My blood pounds against my broken heart in a bid to run but it's rejected out of hand. Water rushes over my mouth and nose. I close my eyes and give in. It's not so cold when you stop fighting. Air is relative if you can't breathe on a perfectly sunny, warm day so what difference does it make if you can't breathe here either. The torrent of water is welcoming, blocking out the rest of the sound and then the light too. Maybe if I wait here long enough I can see Jacob. Just for a minute or two.

I am lifted out of the water violently. I gasp and start to cough and hands pound hard against my back. Jacob is shouting my name. Eventually I stop coughing and all of the water leaves my body just as the shivering kicks in. I am turned back against Jacob's chest, resting my head against icy cold, damp flannel as he asks in his accent thicker than this water, thicker than my blood, why I didn't call someone for help.

Because I wanted you. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Can't charm them all.

I've known Andrew since I was three years old, and Christian since I was almost as small (since I met Lochlan, Caleb and Christian all on the same night at the street party when I got dinged in the head and ruined someone's street hockey power play.)

The two of them caught up with me last evening. These days I'm probably closer to Christian than to Andrew overall. Andrew exists on the fringe and never says a thing about his love life. I've often worried that he might be turning monkish. Christian has always made a point that his love life was off limits. He said decades ago he wasn't going to mess with me because I'm too much trouble and that he would always and forever function as a big brother, nothing more. He's gotten in trouble for pranking me and he never lets up. He's hard on me because no one else is and silly me, I thought last night might be an exception.

This is none of your business, Bridget. 

Two of my best friends in the world are in love and it's not? We should be celebrating. Also how am I the last one to know.

I just told you. It's none of your business what I do outside of time with you. I live here. I pay rent. That doesn't give you a free window into everything I do.

So we're not friends. I'm just the landlady. 

I didn't say that. But you don't need a front row seat to my private life. 

If you don't tell me you're dating another good friend but the rest of the point knows, then it's withholding on purpose, just from me.  Why? 

Because you romanticize everything. 

Because it's romantic! 

What if it isn't? 

You're going to stand here next to one another and tell me you're casually hooking up. You're going to dismiss all of the attraction, the emotion that put you together in the first place. 

Sometimes it is what it looks like. 

It looks to me like you're falling in lo-

Bridget, stop it! Accept that people just do things. Like you and Duncan. Are you in love with him? 

Of course I am. 

Then you're different than every other person on this earth.

He tried to soften the whole thing with a hug but I was a stiff as a board and in tears. I don't know what's wrong with me but apparently it's wrong. If it is, I don't ever want to be right. Also it really really sucks to be on the outside.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Closet Jesus.

Must be Sunday, and I'm still somewhat surprised.

At Sam as he's gone from an emotional riptide sort of person to centered and together. Calm. Methodical. relaxed. Oddly fine. Gone is the vunerability, the shakiness, the heart on his sleeve. He's just Sam again. Like he was in the beginning. A mystery. A kind one, mind you but somewhere after Jake he let me in, let me see everything, even right through him sometimes and now he's the voice of reason after being a liability for years. Interesting. He gave a rip-roar of a sermon this morning but I was looking out the window at the rain and thinking very hard and missed the message for you.

Lochlan made a few great guesses about things like sexual orientation, second puberty and midlife crises, maybe it was a combination of all three but as much as I love blown-apart Sam for his honesty, I adore in-charge Sam because I have a thing for authority in God form.

I guess that's what you'd call it. I don't know. I tune out sometimes when I should probably pay attention to things going on around me.

After we got home from early church I went over to give Andrew a game that he wanted to borrow from Henry's playstation. Bloodborne or something I think and as per tradition, I neither knocked nor rang a bell. I let myself in with the key they gave me, announced myself a few times as the house was quiet and went upstairs. I knocked on Andrew's door twice softly. He never answered so I opened it, intending to wake him up (it's after eleven and he is not a sleeper) and leave the game on his nightstand. I've known Andrew my entire life, from diapers but apparently I didn't know him at all.

He wasn't there so I left the game on his perfectly-made bed and came back out, closing the door again behind me, just as Christian's door opened and Andrew came out in his robe.

AH. Hey, Bridget. (Too bright.)

Morning. I left the game for you. It's on your bed. Sorry, I thought you'd be up by now. 

Oh. Yes, I am. I'm up, I mean.

Then Christian comes out behind Andrew in his robe too. He won't look me in the eye for a long minute before he says good morning. He doesn't need to. I think I understand.

Okay then. Holy shit.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

On the phone with the Devil on a Saturday morning.

Had a brain skip this morning, attributing a piece by Blake to Burroughs. Lochlan snorted (he taught me all these words that I love so) and then apologized because I was still under the influence. I told all this to Caleb on the phone, as I slept in and was loathe to move.

Of whom? 

Huh?

Who's influence were you under? Lochlan's or maybe Sam's? 

Drugs. It was the drugs. 

I believe your drugs are men. 

You aren't wrong but I can't take a man to get a good night's...oh, wait. You're right. I can totally do that. 

Why is Sam taking up space meant for me? 

There's enough space to go around. I mean just look up. So much of it is empty. I mean, when you think about it, the stars are fairly small so it's just....well...space. Empty space. No air, right so...space. 

Bridget, what is wrong with you? 

Well, if I had taken a man or two last night instead of those stupid pills I would be able to think properly. 

Where on earth is your husband?

Sleeping. 

He does that a lot. What about Ben? 

He was working downstairs. 

Sam?

He's not here every night, you know. 

I wish I had known. I could have entertained you. 

I told you, I was drugged. Or rather, I took something to sleep. Well, PJ gave it to me. I had to ask. Then it went to a committee vote. 

What a waste of a night. 

Oh, no it wasn't. We need more sleep. 

You could have come over before it took effect. 

No, because Lochlan sleeps with his arms..well, I mean, I'm..I can't get away from him in his sleep. He holds on very tightly. I love it, actually. 

Being trapped and drugged by your husband? 

You make it sound so awful. Someone giving you a sleep aid and holding you close while you both sleep is the most romantic thing in the world. 

Until I do it. 

Yes, until you do it. Then it's a sinister kidnapping adventure. 

I'm sorry, what did you call it? 

Nothing. I said I should go now, I have to call my sister.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Lightyears and longhauls.

Sam put a Jesus fish sticker on my Porsche.

(Caleb was unimpressed.)

I woke up with a fourth today as the horizontal parade renews itself with some sort of merit-based system that finds the baby preacher in the big bed upstairs..more often than not. His huge wing is sort of upstairs anyway (well, halfway between the top floor and the main floor) but you have to go all the way to the other side of the top floor, through a set of french doors, down some steps and around a corner. Our room has it's own wing with closets outside the door and inside the room too and then past ours the children share a wing with yet another bathroom between their rooms.

Sam has been a security blanket since the day Jacob left and now with August away too I'm holding on so tightly he wasn't allowed to do anything but come with me. We have room. They love him too.

He mentioned something about Grace in the dark. Grace is an excuse. I keep thinking it means to act up now and make up later with no recourse because God still loves you even if you're a big jerk. He keeps telling me it means God loves you in spite of your bad choices and you should work to earn that love. To be worthy

What does that make this? I ask and he asks if we can not have this conversation right now. Instead he kisses my shoulder and puts his head down against mine. Lochlan stirs in his sleep and Sam reaches across me to rest his hand against Lochlan's shoulder. Not so much a romantic gesture, more of a spiritual one, blessing him so that Lochlan will be as open with his faith as he is with his wife and his bed.

(I'm not the prize here, I'm a means to an end. Or maybe I'm the end of his rope. I was hoping I would be the apple of his eye and then God would notice me.)

Sam's going to save everyone. I know it. It's why Jacob left him for me. It's why I can't make him leave and instead he's becoming such a huge part of my life it's hard to see past him. It's hard to separate the message from the messenger. I don't think this is a bad thing. He holds back sometimes because he thinks it is. It causes arguments and ruffles feathers and turns freaks into ascetics and vice versa but at the same time at the bottom of this hole, at the end of the long dark night it's necessary, but it's not evil in nature. It's a foundation we were looking for, one we destroyed and one we're trying to learn how to rebuild together. Even Ben likes having him here but Ben likes having everyone here as long as it makes me feel better.

Maybe he should put the Jesus fish on my forehead. It's shiny and I'd get noticed for sure and maybe even get a little Grace for myself.

You have it already, Sam says sleepily. Twenty bucks says under those lids his eyes are rolling.

Liar! I whisper.

Lochlan stirs in the new day. Shhh, Fidget. Sleep s'more. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Maudlin baby bright.

The running joke around the house these days is that English is my second language. Fun fact: it actually is, in written/read form. Who knew?

Well, everyone here did but you didn't. I learned to read and write in French before English. I pronounce many words rather creatively as a result and can't spell a lot of words that I should have no problem with save for they're in English and needlessly complicated. I also have good working use of several other completely useless but crushingly romantic languages from which to choose though most of the time I'm a mumbling, silent and mostly completely oblivious little shit.

(That last part is Dalton's depiction of me. It's not wrong so in it stays.)

The joke came from the fact that something's happened at Apple and we can no longer text each other with ease. I think it's from the last update but I used to be able to mash the keyboard and it would spit out exactly what I needed to say without me having to spell or fix a thing. Now it just sends gibberish. It's so awful it's become funny. Caleb implores me to go back to the Blackberry but the iphone is still more fun overall, even in spite of the virtually unusable keyboard. And I have tiny fingertips. Imagine the boys with their big paws.

This isn't even the main part of my post and I'm already rambling. Christ.

***

This is how I know he's not going to work with them. He's going to hold his own instead. 'His own' being me.

He slides a small box across the table after our plates have been cleared.

Diabhal-

Neamhchiontach, this is how it works. If we are in a sanctioned, public relationship, I'm permitted to give you gifts. 

Yes, but-

And just because he doesn't have the means I do doesn't mean I need to procure anything less than what I would chose for you any other time. I'm not going to bring down my levels to his simply because that's where he is. That doesn't make any sense. 

Well, you also can't leapfrog over-

Just open it, Babydoll. Please. 

I follow every direction he gives me. Always have (Hands behind your back, Neamhchiontach).  Inside is a beautiful necklace. Gold with a tiny heart-shaped frame filled with a pale green faceted stone attached to the chain on both sides of the tiny heart rather than from a single apex at the top. It's very delicate and beautiful. The nicest shade of pale emerald. Almost sage.

It is an emerald, he confirms. Probably worthless now that I've had it cut but it suits you. 

Oh. This is- Wow. 

Do you think it's too much, and Lochlan is going to pitch a fit? 

He will. 

Then send him my way and I'll explain. I want you to wear it, Neamhchiontach. Wear it because it's your heart instead of someone else's. Wear it in the garden, in the sea, in his arms and in mine. Keep it on. 

He stood up and came around the table, taking the necklace from me, attaching the clasp behind my neck.

It brings out the colors in your butterflies.

I look down and I see tattoos but I can't see the necklace and that's funny.

I like seeing you happy. 

You're behaving. 

It shouldn't be contingent on me. 

My face falls. But it is. This is by your design, Diabhal. 

Then we'll rework it for today and tomorrow. This can be the first day. 

That was in August.

That wasn't me.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

About last night.

We didn't get our romantic dinner for three. I went under thanks to some mixup in communication over when I had last been medicated and missed the night completely. I woke up and my dress and shoes were still ready to go in the door of the closet.

Lochlan forfeited a princely sum to cancel the reservation on short notice and so Ben sprang for a pizza which they ate together while watching movies with PJ and Sam, while I snoozed upstairs. Someone came up every hour to check on me just in case but I wasn't in danger, I just fall asleep if the last dose hasn't worn completely off by the time I get a new one.

Sigh.

No amount of begging on my part has allowed for a do-over in spite of the fact that it wasn't even my fault, as I don't get to dispense my own meds anyway. So I don't get my fancy Valentine dinner, didn't get any pizza, and didn't get to wear that red dress.

Caleb was happy to offer to fly me somewhere (my choice) for a romantic belated dinner. I rolled my eyes and told him he isn't allowed to preempt anyone who lives in the house.

PJ showed me his Tinder date that never happened. She was barely a she, he said, and he got spooked and left her (him?) sitting at the bar. Says he lives with enough guys to know a guy when he sees one, and is giving up on finding a date for any holiday forever.

I pointed out how cute Sam is and PJ threw a piece of toast at me. Crabby Paddy.

(He threw it underhand, at least. That's important in this house. The throwing technique signifies intent. Underhand is mildly annoyed. Overhand is downright rage.)

Sam pointed out that PJ is indeed cute but his behaviour yesterday morning wasn't cute or helpful. PJ offered to suck his dick for him (gross and also only a joke) to make it up to him. Sam declined.

(I didn't expect him to decline that, in spite of it not being a serious offer or the least bit civilized. Oh well. The things you hope for when you're trapped in a house with a bunch of manboys.)

August got an update and threatened to fly back. From now on only PJ is allowed to dispense anything for anyone, no matter what.

PJ asked for a raise.

I gave him one. Happy belated Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Cole-fired furnace.

Trying to make it to six pm. I woke up on the wrong side of myself and can't seem to get my act together. By nine Ben stepped in with fresh arms, a Xanax for me to take and an offer to go hang out in the sauna for a little while and then get ready for the day. I snapped at PJ, hung up on Caleb, cried for Lochlan to hurry up and come home and then the pill kicked in or the heat or maybe the coffee and I feel like a turtle now, only with a mild undercurrent of screaming noises dulled by every other effort to see this through.

Caleb came over when he saw us heading back to the house in our pool robes.

Everything okay?

Bad day, I tell him. I'm so informative. Useful. My lip is quivering and I'm trying not to cry and I just want to curl up and dissolve. Ben hasn't let go and won't let go. Lochlan's working double-speed and trying to call in reinforcements. PJ deservedly told me to go fuck myself and took off for the day, since it's Valentine's Day and he was put off to begin with and Sam is hovering like a bumblebee, trying to be near if we need him and away if we don't. August left for the East Coast before the storm. Duncan and Dalton are probably both sleeping.

And I have lost my mind.

Maybe we should watch a television show, maybe distract her just a little bit. 

Too far for that now, Ben says quietly, as if I'm not even present.

You need to go. You look too much like your brother today, I tell Caleb. Part of this was a valentine memory that came raging back at me in my dreams last night and I woke up unsettled and afraid, dreading breathing. Dreading standing up. Ben's policy is one foot in front of the other. One day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time.

Caleb nodded at Ben and Ben tightened his hold on me and I asked if we could have a walk on the beach once we got ready.

See if I let you out of the shower, Ben smiles. He's up to no good. He's the king of distractions and sometimes immersion. Whatever works. Get through it and then figure out what it was and what worked or didn't but right in the middle is not the time and while that seems incredibly logical, no one else subscribes to that method and so he's just as thrilled to be taking charge and I'm grateful it's him and not Lochlan, honestly. Lochlan takes it personally. He takes everything so hard.

The shower was long and hotter than the sauna by far. I felt like I couldn't get enough air and Ben held me tight, washing my hair from within his arms, scrubbing me all over and then lifting me up against the wall. His visceral distractions worked wonders and by the time he switched us to cooler water so we could rinse I felt somewhat renewed. I need sleep and maybe a stiff drink but I don't feel like the world is coming apart at the seams right this minute. We went down to the beach, joined by Caleb again (to prove he's no one but himself) and by Christian, who said I was fast and tricky and Ben puts too much faith in my promises while Christian always expects me to run right off the rocks. So all three hovered while I bent low at the water's edge to find a few treasures but it was suddenly cold and I didn't want them to worry so much so we came back up quickly enough. Then Ben went to a meeting and left me with Sam (because I had to ask Caleb to go again) and Christian for a bit and I mostly read while they ignored me, ears open, ready to move but otherwise content to catch up with each other.

I fell asleep halfway down every page but I stopped thinking about Cole and then Jake too and by the time I finished the chapter Lochlan was back and promising that from now on he'll wake me up before he leaves, that he can make sure I'm okay before he's gone off somewhere. I try to tell him that Ben did really good, that Ben always does well with me but Lochlan's guilt won't let him listen hard enough. He holds me close and then shakes Ben's hand when Ben comes back and they both say that dinner will be fun, that the day will get better. That nervous fake assurance that no one ever believes but everyone invokes all the same. Maybe it works anyway.

I know it will. It already has, actually. I just wish my brain had an off-switch, and that my memory had cloud storage. So I could keep it all offsite until I decided that I wanted something, instead of being ambushed by it.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Troika.

Lochlan said he's made reservations for tomorrow night at a very romantic restaurant. For three of us! Yeah!

I thought our romantic dinner was last evening.

What? No, that was our Nostalgic dinner.

Ah. I was wondering why you cut up my chicken for me. 

I did that because bowls and knives don't usually work well together. 

Lochlan, I'm forty-five. 

Don't remind me. 

Someone should. 

You want to go out for Valentine's Day or not? 

I do! I'm excited. Are we dressing up? 

If you like. 

Does Ben know? 

Yes, he and I chose the restaurant together. 

I smile.

You're excited, Peanut. 

Of course I am! When we get formal, I know we're serious. 

Then we'll dress to the nines. Although I don't think my wardrobe goes past seven. Maybe six and a half.

Wear your top hat. Then it all goes to eleven. 

Let's dress to the eight-and-three-quarters. Then we're safe. 

But will you wear the hat?

If you want me to. 

Of course I do. Jesus. Have you met me? I love that hat. 

Yeah, you're the only girl who ever did. 

Is that why you married me? 

Of course it is. That and you make me look positively normal in comparison. 

So you think, Lochlan. 

I don't look normal? 

The question is, do you feel normal? 

Hardly never, Peanut. 

Then there's your answer.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Rituals.

We made dinner last night. By candlelight. Two burners, two pans. An old favorite comfort routine brought forward by pushing everything else back. Battered emergency candles. Mismatched cutlery. Paper towels folded nicely for napkins. Chicken breasts stuffed with mushrooms, cheese and parsley and potatoes boiled in the skin, plus carrot sticks, served in a cereal bowl.

It's one of the very first romantic dinners we ever shared together in the camper when I was around eleven and one we try to find a chance to recreate a few times a year. The caveat is we no longer steal the chicken (from the grocery store) or the potatoes (from a field) and we tend to use real marbled cheddar now instead of Kraft cheese product slices. Oh, and we have parsley which never actually existed in the camper timeline. We've also added a bottle of wine more often than not (but no glasswear because we're sideshow heathens) and the elbow room required to make the meal is a little more generous than it was but the end result is the same.

Special.

Just for us.

Lochlan surprised me with roses when he came home. I already had the chicken breasts stuffed and was struggling to open the wine. The kitchen was off-limits to everyone else, the house reminded to use either the front or the patio door and not to bother us. No one did. We took the wine, left the dishes and came upstairs, where Lochlan finished the bottle and I fell asleep early in his arms. He put his head down against mine and said quietly that if he were to be honest, he would tell me he really liked the Kraft cheese better than the real cheddar in the chicken.

I am surprised. So did I. It's just...creamier somehow. Less rich. 

Yeah! Exactly. And we nodded at the ceiling because we'll make it the old way from now on.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Speaking of markers..

We went to see John Wick 2 this afternoon. Every man in this house regrets his life decision not to become an assassin and I think I need a job working in Accounts Receivable as an operator at the Continental.

It was awesome. Go see it.


Friday, 10 February 2017

Cabin-fevered afternoons.

Lochlan is mad, but he assures me he's mad at himself and pretty mad at Duncan too but not at me.

(I feel like that's misdirected.)

But I couldn't talk about it, because once Lochlan let me up for air (because he hides his ego in the strangest places and when you least expect it he reveals it to you like a rabbit from a hat) Batman called and I had to go to work, putting in my ten hours hours for the week because I haven't been lately but he's been continuing to pay me.

You should stop that, I tell him in between filing and cross-checking invoices. (Who are all these people and what do they do?)

That is your regular stipend and not your salary. I don't give you a salary if you don't show up. Don't you check that account?

If it's just sugar then no, I don't. 

How much is there? 

How much have you put in? 

He puts down all of his papers in surprise.

Don't look at me like that. We've had this conversation before. I told you I haven't touched it. 

I thought you were being demure. 

Who, me?

Yes, just like that. 

No, I was being honest. I don't have to act. It's just what comes out. 

Are you that ridiculously casual about your money? Now I understand why you left Caleb to sort out his transfers. 

That's a whole different subject. 

Apparently not. 

I know what's there. I just haven't touched it. 

Why not? 

The minute I do I have...obligations. Right now I can call the shots with you.

You think if you spend the money you can't call the shots with me? 

Most definitely not. Then it's ownership. This way I can throw it all back in your face and say no to whatever I want. 

You can say no to anything. I'm not Caleb. But I'll double what's there if you leave the rest of them alone. 

I beg your pardon? 

Loch, Ben and Caleb. That's your triad. Nothing with anyone else. Unless you want to visit me, that is.

If you're serious, I'm leaving. 

Consider it. It's an easy way to double your money. And that's just what's from me. 

If you care about Lochlan so much maybe you should try touching him. I smile big. He's glorious. 

Right so why Duncan? 

I have issues. 

I think the word you're looking for is 'excuses'. 

Should I throw the money back at you now and walk out or do you need me to go to the bank and physically bring it here to throw it at you and leave? Because I'm up for either. 

Touchy. 

Just because I write it down doesn't mean it's up for discussion.

Then what on earth is it there for? 

I told you. I'm insane. Some people rock back and forth. I write it right out of my head. If you think because I'm functional I must be fine then keep your fucking money. I've got bigger things to worry about. 

You definitely do. 

I'm going to go get it and throw it at you. Overhand. 

Look, Bridget, my own reasoning will correct me on this before you make it to the door. Will you accept my apologies for the sour grapes that they are? 

Can we please just change the subject?

What would you like to talk about?

You have lots of money. Can you put Eco-Challenge back on television? 

What a strange request, Bridget.

It isn't really, but I do have some weird ones if you're interested. 

Oh! Write them down already and we'll go over them. I'll go put on some coffee.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Forewarmed.

My heart jumped a thousand feet in the dark. I went all the way down to get a glass of orange juice when I should have been trying to sleep, and when I walked into the kitchen there was a man standing in the light of the patio door, looking out.

Poem, said Duncan and my heart slowed briefly. Come see this rain. 

I dutifully abandoned my juice plan and went to the big glass doors to see. He was right. It was a wall of steady water, as if we suddenly were in a secret lair underneath a waterfall, like spies. It wasn't the usual rain, instead a windless deluge. Had we been outside we would have been soaked to the skin in seconds.

Wow, I tell him. Cozy though. 

He nods. Depends. 

On?

Whether or not you're alone. 

You can come upstairs, you know. 

Or you can come down with me. You know I like to be alone. He laughs so gently I don't know if he's teasing me or embarrassed.

If you want to be alone I can't come with you. I lob his joke back equally gently, underhand.

He catches it. I don't want to be alone, Bridge.

I follow him through the house in the dim grey light, the nighttime sounds of the house dwarfed by the rain pounding down. It gets quieter as we go downstairs and then loud again once we're behind closed doors because his windows are open slightly. He turns around to face me, pulls his shirt off and then pulls mine off too. His hands come up around my head as he kisses me hard, walking me backwards until the backs of my legs touch the bed. He pushes me straight down and then pulls off my pajama pants and steps out of his own. His room is warm and cozy but I'm a map of goosebumps.

He wastes no time at all getting down to his knees and I twist my fingers in his hair, trying to hold him in one place and pull him up to me at the same time. My back arches off the bed and he reaches up to cover my mouth as I cry out but then his weight is on me. He turns over onto his back, leaning back against the pillows, pulling me in tight against his chest, almost sitting up but far more leisurely and hot as fuck. It feels incredible, unfamiliar and really really good but it hurts too and I have to ask him twice to let up a little. I know they can't help it. He finally ignores me and goes over the edge, drowning in the sound of rain. His hands remain tightened around my hips. His arms stay locked. But his face is a wash of relief.

So sweet, he says.

I nod. You are. 

Stay and sleep? (One thing almost every man has in common, they want to nap afterward forever. It's maddening.)

I shake my head. I need to go get my juice. 

I thought you weren't going to come to me ever again. 

I thought about that. 

What changed your mind? 

You didn't ask. You waited for an offer. 

Lochlan's going to be pissed. 

He'll be fine. 

He's pissed at August. 

I go there too much. 

How much?

Way too much. 

How much is way too much?

More than Lochlan likes. 

I get it. You keep your cards close enough to keep us guessing so what's one more mystery? Okay, get out then. He smiles but my whole face falls. Those words are starting to make me feel so sad.

What'd I say? 

Nothing. Get some sleep. I'm going back up. 

Need me to walk you back? 

I think I'm safe in my own house. 

You think you are. You probably aren't though. 

I didn't ask what he meant, because by the time I thought through his reply his eyes were closed. I closed the doors quietly as I left, making my way back upstairs to the kitchen, where I opened the fridge and drank directly from the orange juice carton. When I closed the fridge door Caleb was standing behind it.

FUCK!

Have a midnight stroll, Neamhchiontach? 

Just thirsty. Lochlan's waiting for me. I turn to go back upstairs.

Does he know about all of the different places you go when you're thirsty? 

Go home. It's late.

Contrary to that view, it's early! Early bird gets the worm, or I guess in this case she gets her Poet. 

Jealousy is a horrible colour on you. 

On everyone.

Yes. 


Then stop making us work so hard for your affection while those of no consequence step in and get it for free.

Maybe this is none of your business. 

What if it is? 

Then I guess you'll have to deal with it because I'm going to bed. Also I'd like my key back. You don't need to be lurking around the house this time of night. 

Then tell your friends to lock the door. 

Great. I'll do that. 

Think the monsters live outside of this house, Bridget? Think again. He opens the door, blows me a kiss and steps out into the downpour. I lock the door behind him.

Second warning, same night. Guess who's not sleeping now?

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The space between us.

They don't know my heart
I decided this week that Starset's Ricochet might be my favorite song in the world right at this moment in time. It starts a bit weak but then from 2:30 into the song onwards it's magnificent. My brain screams along with them right through the piano notes at the end.

So beautiful.

***

He founders for a place to lay his blame. It's heavy.

Good morning, I said to his closed eyes. He's awake. Just 'resting', as he always used to tell me he was doing when I would find him flat on his back in a field in the shade of a half-assembled ride, his baseball hat down over his whole face, curls fanning out like the tentacles of an octopus around his head.

Tell me you didn't just melt my eyebrows off with your dragon breath, Bridgie.

I can't do that, Locket. You're going to look permanently annoyed. 

I think I do that anyway. He laughs, still without opening his eyes. It's only because of your morning breath though. 

I can wake up elsewhere. It was a harmless comeback but once it was out I couldn't put it back. His eyes are now open, the jealousy volcano is filling up and ready to erupt and yes, he looks permanently annoyed.

Where would you wake up? 

On the kitchen floor? So I don't irritate you with my breath. I'm trying to save the mood but it's gone.

You think August pushes you out abruptly, go try this breath on him and see yourself outside in minutes. 

This has nothing to do with Au-

This has everything to do with him! 

I'm listening. I roll onto my back and wait for him to spew his green lava everywhere. I wait to be condemned by it, buried in it, burned in it and reborn from it as new. I have to find the silver for all the hot rocks or it would destroy me too.

He's not helping you, Bridget. He's making it worse. 

I wait. If I defend, I'm guilty. If I attack, ruined. I lie there in the ash and smoulder like the good little firebaby that I am.

He's got you wound up in some guise of helping you but at the same time he takes whatever he wants and then just pushes you right out the door. Sam said you were acting strange before I came in. I refuse to let anyone set you back. I don't know what he's doing. 

Have you talked to him? (Good girl, Bridget, just shut your mouth, oh shut it, baby, don't say too much)

No. He's not going to tell me the truth. 

Then you can't give weight to fears and ideas. That's what you tell me. 

He nods and closes his eyes again. I know. I don't want anyone to touch you but if they're going to anyway I don't want them to hurt you. Your heart or your body. 

No one can hurt either. 

But you're glass, he whispers.

August isn't your enemy, Loch. 

I know, but Jake is, and August is the closest thing to him that I have. 

That's why I go.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

BUSY.

Today was the calm before the next storm, getting out and getting groceries, gas and cash while the sun shone. I really really wanted an espresso but I didn't feel like going in to a restaurant and really I don't know if coffee shops do that to go, or if they're all fancy mixed coffees or what have you. I don't get them. I just want a tiny cup of really strong coffee. Actually scratch that, I just want my bed and a little more sleep. I have chocolate though. That will do!

Also Ben got a new medal this afternoon and gave it to me for safekeeping. He gave me a kiss too and said I was worth the fight. He makes me cry. I mean everything does but he is something else entirely sometimes. I kissed him back and he complained about snot levels on my face and so we agreed to wait until later to fool around.

Or he can just go ahead, because like I said. I'll be asleep. Maybe mid-chocolate like that one time I fell asleep holding a cookie and when I woke up the next morning, well, what a mess.

Okay, I lied.

It's happened a few times, actually.

Monday, 6 February 2017

One leads, one follows.

August loves the snow. When I arrive, he puts on all the tiny white lights and starts making hot chocolate. Then I get a hug and he does his signature move where he runs his hand over the back of my head as he lets go, always feeling for the hearing aids.

Rarely does he find them.

Today is no exception so he is sure to not ask questions if I'm not paying strict attention and he never talks as he's walking away. He brings the cups over to the coffee table where I am curled up in front of the gas fireplace, sits down against me and asks how I'm doing.

I take a sip. Real hot chocolate. He melts Hershey bars in milk, adding vanilla, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. It's delicious. I don't know why I don't have diabetes.

Then I talk for a while. He frowns the whole time. He's thinking. He asks precious few questions, instead letting me spool right up, dumping all of my gears and whirlygigs out all over his brain. His brain picks up each piece methodically, turning them over, sometimes polishing them on the hem of his shirt, sometimes pushing them all to one side with a sweep of his arm as the next round hits.

He's so patient.

And then I am finished. So is the hot chocolate. I wait for his instructions because two is better than one and Bridget won't be getting fixed today anyway.

But he doesn't say anything. He shoves the empty mugs to one side, puts his feet up on the table and pulls me in against his heart, where I let out a shaky breath and close my eyes.

It's almost dark when I open them again. When I stir he bends his head down, kissing my forehead. He tells me to get out. That's his standard operating procedure most days. A little work, a little cuddle, a lot of guilt.

I fly across the driveway in the final light of the day, landing in the kitchen just as boys start to pour in looking to see what's for supper. PJ's already started so I set out plates and napkins and respond to questions as sweetly as I can but I sting all over. I never get used to August's sudden cold shoulders. Not when he was so warm before.

Sam walks in, throws his suit jacket over the arm of my chair and pitches in automatically. He's got his sleeves rolled up, tie still looped around his neck. His Seychelles belt buckle persists, in spite of the four or five plain belts 'gifted' to him since he showed up with it.

When PJ heads to his room for something, Sam blocks my path as I head around with glasses on a tray. I stop short and they slide crazily toward the front edge. Jesus, Sam! I cry. I almost dropped the whole thing!

He takes the tray and puts it down. Talk to me. 

Oh, not about this. 

About anything. You know that. 

Just some issues with August. 

You're playing with fire, Bridget. (Sam has issues with August, as does everyone. August has no issue with anyone save for himself.)

I'm a trained professional, Sam. 

Professional what? Asks Lochlan as he comes in.

Heartbreaker, Sam and I say at the exact same moment.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Perilous normal.

The point is coated in a hard white crust again. I've come to resent the snow, as it covers the seaglass treasures I should be finding on the beach and it mutes my heartbeat down into a distant thump from somewhere far inside.

Lochlan's early, brusque refusal to take me down anyway sent it even deeper inside as he shook the snow off his hair and brushed off the shoulders of his thick fisherman knit sweater. He was outside splitting wood all morning. His hands are rough and fatigued, his arms are aching and he just wants to sit down and have a hot cup of coffee. He hasn't shaved in a couple of weeks and is starting to look like a mountain man. He's putting them all to shame, never stopping or even slowing down. Hardly sleeping sometimes and then catching up all at once. And still with one eye on and one ear out for me as I balance on the icy slopes too close to the cliff or spend too long out in the cold fascinated by the way the snow piles up on the deadened grapevines or the tree swing. I seek shelter in the studio or underneath the big hemlocks sometimes when it's too far to go back to the house for just one minute.

Curious girl, he scolds.

I shrug. When has that ever changed?

Finally he relents and I jump up to run to get my boots, waiting impatiently by the patio doors for him to finish his coffee as slowly as humanly possible and then pull on his big boots again. He never laces them. He grabs our red mittens from the shelf above the coats and tells me not to run ahead (in his mind I've never not been ten years old) and says he's coming.

When we get to the bottom of the steps he laughs and asks what treasures I'm going to find here today. I ignore him and step to the hard white edge of the earth where the solid ground ends and the glorious sea begins.

They're all still here, they just have a blanket today. I bend down and splash water up on the shore. The white crust melts away, revealing shells and two tiny pieces of bright blue glass. See?

Give me your mitts. Jesus, Peanut. He pulls my saltwater soaked mittens from my hands and replaces them with his own. Why do you do these things? 

I look at the dark teal frigid Pacific as I answer. I don't know. I can't help it.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Flakes.

It's a snow day! Everyone cancelled everything. Some of the boys were just brimming with Superbowl party invitations. Some of them have friends off the point.

Not me. This is my squad. And my squad has bailed on every last one of those invites to stay home with me because I was smart and ran out yesterday early to get junk food for the storm.

I'm glad this whole mess held off long enough for us to go to the show and now we can hunker in and keep the fire burning high and spool up perpetual movies all day, or the generator if the power goes out again. It's gone off twice but we're mostly ignoring the inevitable. I even slept in until nine today and then spent twenty minutes talking on the phone to Caleb while I woke up, while Ben did absolutely deplorable things like lick my elbows and tickle my earlobes (you were hoping for more exciting examples, I know.) Lochlan didn't even notice, he was too deeply asleep. He's weird like that. We got so used to living in close quarters he can sleep through phone calls, video games, movie watching, hair-drying, dish-washing, singing, you name it. But me? Ha. If a feather hits the carpet three continents away? I'M AWAKE.

The chips and dip are calling my name. It's horror movie day! Until the power goes, that is.

Friday, 3 February 2017

With every sinful bone.

Tonight we went to see Relient K + Switchfoot at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. They said it was the biggest show of the tour (venuewise/crowd size) and proceeded to roll out the most incredible show yet!

The venue is beautiful. They fixed the sound instantly after the first song seemed very overly bassy. The attendants were helpful, parking easy, bathrooms plentiful, they had food, spread out merch stands and lots of light. It was general seating so we sat smack-dab in the centre.

And I took my first deep breath of the night. Made it.

Relient K has only played a scant number of shows in Canada ever so I battled the flu and a huge snowstorm to get there. So glad I did.

I didn't bring my hearing aids either. I don't need them at shows. I can't hear some of the between-song banter but I don't find it's been a problem. I'm going to soak it all up while I can.

So worth it. So, so worth it.

They played Deathbed, guys. I cried through the whole thing while I sang along. It was beautiful. Matt played it on the piano and Jon came out to sing the part of Jesus at the end even! They also played almost everything else I love. I don't know how they breathe for all the words in the songs. They were funny and charming and sweet and freaking amazing. Matt Thiessen's hair is a ringer for Lochlan's. I've never seen another curly redhead in person with the big curls like that. Deathbed wasn't my favorite moment though, I think it was a cross between Boomerang and Empty House, which is a little hard to get used to on the album but then live is incredible. Just incredible. And a few times the crowd seemed to surprise them, starting a clap or a singalong and they looked so genuinely thrilled it was touching. They are the modern day Simon & Garfunkel. I'm sure of it.

Then a break. I tried not to yawn. Holy. Two shows in six days. I'm not good at this. I'm getting old.

Lights went out again. YES.

This was my fifth Switchfoot show. It's a record! Most times I've seen a band live (sorry Benjamin) but I don't think I'd want to miss them if they came.

So much more polished than a decade ago for our first show of theirs at the Garrick. That first show was a lifetime ago for me, and probably for them too. They didn't have a setup, just their instruments and their heart. They've gotten bigger each time since. Now they have a super high-tech light show, video monitors and a perfectly timed professional show that's heading into U2 territory at this stage of their trajectory. Wow. Most of the songs they played came from the new album, Where The Light Shines Through (Matt came out to join Jon for Live it Well!) and still they threw in some great surprises from yesteryear like Gone and Love Alone Is Worth the Fight. They did an epic acoustic Hello Hurricane around a single mike. I don't cry like a baby when they sing Dare You To Move finally. Took a lot of shows for that to happen.

I got an awesome Burn Brighter Than the Dawn t-shirt. I also got myself the coveted Relient K Blue Jays shirt.

What a great night. Thank you to both Switchfoot and Relient K for becoming a surprising but welcome soundtrack to a life I thought I should maybe drown out with noise but now instead I want to listen even harder than before. While I still can.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Good news.

This morning. THIS MORNING. 

Ruth got accepted to university!

MY KID. LOCH'S KID. 

I'm so proud. Especially after we forgot to remind her to add her academic awards to her resume. Sigh. Guess with the honour roll it's overkill but WHATEVER I'M PROUD.

So proud. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Sorry, not sorry. I lay in bed most of the day watching Stop A Douchebag on Youtube and eating grapes until I felt sick so I have nothing to report.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Purple laver + grey cloud.

Lochlan said I smelled like a perpetual blend of smoked sea salt and bulletproof coffee with an undercurrent of lilacs. He said I did good, but he's happy I'm home and we slept hard last night on the giant hockey-arena sized bed, looped in against Ben, a rescue ship on a stormy sea if ever there was one, which is somehow surprising in light of Ben's long history as the sweetest, meanest dry drunk you ever met. He's mellowed beyond the pale in the past few years though. Probably because of the stress of being with me. Or maybe just because they're all hitting that fifth decade one by one and it's like a switch being flicked sometimes and then other times you can see the indignant teenage stubbornness flare up and flame out in a whoosh. It's still there. It's still them.

I know why I smelled strange, I spent hours on the beach yesterday. It reeked of seaweed and petrichor and I love it so I stayed. They had to pull me away physically (it happens sometimes) and then as soon as I could get away again I went back and finally Lochlan came back down with one of the big lanterns because it was almost dinner time and getting dark.

Want me to bring the sleeping bags? He laughed.

Can we??? Thought the rest of my dreams were going to come true for a minute there.

No, Peanut. It's going to drop to the minuses tonight. You thought you were cold last night, you'd never make it. 

I'm never cold with Lochlan. Ever. He is fire incarnate.

I smile at him and somehow he knows what I'm thinking.

Come on peanut. Let's go up. 

After dinner Ben appeared and didn't go back downstairs and at ten-thirty sharp we went up to bed. I kept looking at him, a stranger who rarely shows his face before the waning hours, a night owl in a house full of reluctant morning people. An enigma.

Thought you might need me, he shrugged. Also since you weren't here last night. Lochlan and I have decided we're in love. He smiles dramatically.

I look at Lochlan and he nods. We'll see if we still have room for you. 

I stand there waiting until they're both in and Ben turns the light out and I stand there in the dark. What if they're serious? What if I lost my place?

Then Ben turns the light back on and says, Get in here, Bee. You know what Loch and I have is superficial. It's all based on looks. 

What about me? Isn't that based on looks too?

There's not enough of you to look at. Too small! And he laughs and turns off the light again once I've climbed over Lochlan to take my place as monkey in the middle. Funny how we increased the size of the bed so much and I still have no room.

Your hair smells weird. 

It's the beach. 

Nothing ever changes, Peanut.

Good.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Woke up in Sweden. Send the plane.

(It actually stands for this: Please Try Something Different.)

When I opened my eyes from the latest coma (we don't call it sleep when it's drugs any more than you call it rainshine when it's sun), there are the hemlocks peeking down at me through rainwashed skylights. There is dark grey everything and there is my unintentional but somewhat mostly welcome (except when he isn't) new/old boyfriend (who may or may not be the devil) with breakfast in bed for me.

He told me I slept adorably. I was cold so I put on my Hello Kitty pajamas and curled right in against him before realizing that I probably played right into his deeply buried fetishes without even trying.

Not sure if you ever noticed his dresscode rules? His preferences for me being so specific? I have to dress up. Very high heels. Very sophisticated clothing. He likes my hair above my shoulders (it's. almost. touching. them. finally.) and prefers our time together to be mostly formal activities or very very extreme adult ones.

Why?

Because child-Bridget excites the fuck of him and I don't want to awaken that monster. I think he has a hard enough time with it as it is and so he has all these rules to keep himself in check and protect me too.

God forbid I show up in jeans and a t-shirt with a long braid and Oreo crumbs in my teeth.

God help me if I wake up in pink pajamas.

God save the Queen? Fuck that. Save the princess instead. For once.

But he seems like he's in control and he has a tray with coffee and lemon bread and blueberries so we make short work of it and then I point out I have to get going.

Thank you, Caleb says to me.

I told you I can stay a couple times a month if-

Not for that. For being comfortable enough to be yourself (I ain't the girl in the stilettos. I ain't anything, actually.). I'm working on things. (Oh, he knows exactly what is wrong with him.)

I nod. Suddenly I feel like it might be difficult to leave.

Go before I keep you, he whispers.

And I'm gone.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Dinner and a kick-ass show.

(For all of the alarmist emailers: the pills can reduce anxiety and regulate sleep. If I can do those two things in my life I'm fucking gold. For the rest of you? You're swell. Thank you for coming.)

In at two last night, naked and makeup-free and fed (not in that order, mind you) and in bed by three. Far too late with a busy week ahead but also a whole lot of rare fun. We had an oddly smooth evening, with a whole host of luck (last parking spot in our usual lot, last table in our favorite pub, a perfect view in the ballroom (for the Ascot Royals and Big Wreck!), too many drinks though it didn't affect a thing, no lineups, no sound issues, no fights. No weirdos. No glitches. Just fun. And my eyeliner stayed sharp all night (thank you to Kat Von D). My lipstick did not (F-you, Dior). Not in the least but I threw it in at the last minute and had I been smart I would have used one of my twelve hour workhorse reds (like duh, Kat Von D liquid or my almost-gone Lorac but no. So yeah. Not so polished so I just pretended I did a nude lip on purpose. Honestly? No one fucking cares except everyone loves my blue-red matte lips when I bother so there's that. 

Boys are weird. They're like 'you don't need makeup' and then when I wear some they're all 'hey girl'. 

LOL

I'm so tired. 

Tonight I'm going to bed at eight.

Maybe seven. 

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Meh.

Fell asleep in the hot tub last night. I was reading and I felt my eyes get heavy and I put my head down on my hand against the side and just closed my eyes for a minute and Jacob swam up into my face and screamed at me when I went under. I surfaced with a shout of my own and looked around in the dark.

Okay, so I am crazy.

Also sometimes the narcolepsy gets bad. It seems more related to mental than physical things so when I feel stressed I check out faster and more frequently.

The doctor said it's probably a sign for me to slow down. I told him if I slow down any more I'll run at bullet time and look like a flipbook from afar.

He prescribed Ativans, Ambiens and something else that starts with A that I already forgot. Great. Zombie spring. I get to dole out my own comas instead of Lochlan holding all the cards, or in this case, all the pills.

But I can't take anything right now. I'm making lasagna and salad for dinner and then I'm supposed to go to a thing that STARTS at ten-thirty pm. Masochism at it's finest. Hope my eyeliner and my bra hold up. I hate both, truly I do.

Edit: Alprazolam! This one sounds like fun.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Two.

Lunch was leftover macaroni and cheese with cut-up hotdogs and forbidden glasses of pop. We ate outside in the sun (heat lamp on above us) and smiled at each other. Lochlan kept smiling into the sky and then he'd smile back at me and I burst out laughing finally for his funny faces.

What?

This. This is nice.

Yup. It is.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

To see her was to love her. Or something.

We had a full house last night for Burns Night. Didn't have haggis but we did have bagpipes (I love Ben. Have I mentioned this?) and a few of us (not naming any names *cough* BRIDGET *cough*) had far too much Scotch whisky and should have gone to bed long before it was unreasonable.

Batman told me in confidence that he doesn't know me. All he knows is that he made a grab for a brass ring in the shape of a girl and what he wound up with exceeded his wildest dreams and also disappointed him beyond belief.

I don't know about you but yes, after hearing that I started drinking from two glasses at once. It's always lovely to here that you've disappointed someone. You know, beyond their wildest dreams. What do you even say to that? Thank you? 

You drink.

He clarified that he thought we would have a relationship past what we have now. Instead he is shelter in a storm. By choice. He keeps close in case I need him. Maybe he's hoping he'll be the rebound guy someday but outward he admits only to feeling gratified that I trust him and welcomes my attention when he gets it.

It was formal and I shut him up by pouring him another.

Eventually he left and Caleb said Godspeed as he went out the door.

Well, there's a word. 

What do you mean, Neamhchiontach?

Sam is smiling. Oh noes, he says. Here she goes.

What?
My brain is tilting. I wonder what speed God travels at. Fast-forward? Supersonic? Or maybe it's slow-motion. God-speed. More righteous than regular speed! Oh! I want to learn this! Then I can whip around at Godspeed and make everyone happy faster. Except Batman. I think he resents the hell out of me. 

Bridget, you're losing it. 

Never found it, actually. Is there an opposite to Godspeed? Like Devilslow? Well, that makes perfect sense come to think of it-

You're cut off and you're going to bed. Lochlan's almost as drunk as I am. Think I'm bad? Wait until HE starts talking. Say goodnight, Bridget. 

Goodnight, Bridget. And Godspeed! 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Shouting into the void.

I spent all morning signing things. Listening to things. Watching things transpire. My baby lawyerlings were well-organized and knew to bring me coffee with a quarter teaspoon of plain white sugar and a drop of cream every couple of hours. They knew to take all my weird-coloured pens away from me before we started and they physically winced when they heard of the interest lost should we cash out early*.

*(Three times I opted not to cash out early because honestly it isn't worth the loss and I can wait. The paperwork is drawn and dated, and it'll be ready to invoke the day certain things come due.)

(I can overrule Batman.)

They brought me a sandwich for an early lunch break. It was not a Monte Cristo but it was good anyway. There was a pickle with it. More coffee and as I watch Caleb sign things and talk to his brokerage and banking advisors it occurs to me that he's aged more in the past five months (since the wedding) then the past thirty years and I make a mental note to ask him to come to dinner.

After lunch I sign some more things. Then finally we're finished. They have a list for me. Today's transfers and the list of those to come, plus several ventures that haven't come to fruition yet but will soon and those are mine too. Caleb also got a raft of statements after the fact and in the car, I asked if I could see them.

Why, Bridget? He hands it all over, somewhat wearily. It isn't defeat, maybe it's just resignation in his manner that's making him seem far older than his years today.

I want to make sure you kept your full share so I don't wind up having to be your sugar momma. 

He's amused. Speaking of which, there are precious few ways in which I'll be able to fulfill that role after today. 

You'll have to pay me in affection, then. 

Something tells me that's worth more to you than everything we put down on paper today.

It is. You should know this by now, Diabhal.

The smile did not leave his face the whole way home. Maybe he (after all this) puts his values on the same way I do each morning, one leg at a time.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Crimson thieves, wasted knights.

When I went to bed last night in tears the kingdom was in flames, angry words preceding fists, endless wrong swallowing brief happiness whole.

When I woke up, my tears had dried on my cheeks and the world was new. Lochlan slept with his hands around my head. Ben had one hand on Lochlan's head and his other arm under and around me, holding my back tight against his chest. There was one extra arm was flung over Lochlan from his other side, Sam's caramel curls mixed with Loch's red, barely visible above the quilts.

My tiny kingdom, surrounded by water on three sides, with the most beautiful army you ever saw was still standing. They put out the fires, smoothed over the harsh words and made good on the promises they levied as proof of their worthiness, words that hold more value than strength, here. I capture it all with my hands and place it into my heart, warming it.

The army rests today.

The war is over.

For now. 

Ben lifts his head and asks if I'm awake. I nod and he squeezes me into his heart. Hearts within hearts. This is perfect.

Hungry? 

I don't want to leave this. 

Me neither. Go back to sleep then.

When I wake up next they're gone and it's only my blonde head that remains. The kingdom is cold and barren like a bad dream and I get up and cross to the window to count trucks.

They're all still here.

The sea still surround us.

We are still hearts within hearts.

I wasn't dreaming.

Monday, 23 January 2017

CFO vs. CEO.

(Nice to know he has my back. I suppose he's already had my front. Except this time he wants to make sure nobody gets fucked over. Where's the fun in that?)
There's something inside you that isn't right
There's something that haunts your dreams at night
There's something that you have lost
And you're bringing it down
You're bringing it down
On top of us
Batman was in the kitchen when I came back from seeing the kids off to school. I could feel something just emanating from him but I didn't know what it was.

Why did Caleb ask about payment for university, Bridge? Where's the money he gave you?

(It's tension.) Offshore, I guess? Maybe overseas? 

He reached out and grabbed me by the arm and said we needed to pay a little visit. I cried out and PJ got up and Batman whirled around and told him to sit the fuck down and out I was marched, across the slippery driveway half off my feet, up the steps and into Caleb's kitchen.

Where's her money, and why doesn't she have control of it?

Caleb looks at me and Batman shouts at him not to look at me. And to answer him. Now, please.

Caleb says it's invested. That since I don't need it for day to day expenses he may as well make it work for me. That after already transferring several accounts the paperwork was monumental so as investments come due Caleb is changing them over.

You need to let her choose a proxy.

She knows I'll look after it better than anyone. I worked for this. She's comfortable with me. You should all take your cues-

She has GODDAMN STOCKHOLM SYNDROME. She only thinks she loves you because you fucked with her until you broke something. I want everything signed over to her by the end of the week. You're retired now, right? Something to keep you busy. 

I think I'll leave it up to Bridget to deci-

She can't make these decisions. I just told you. I will take control of it alongside Lochlan and PJ until she needs or wants it. Does Lochlan have his funds?

He does. She's going to lose a lot of interest if I pull it now-

Then make up the difference. This isn't her fault, it's yours. 

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Busy/Not busy.

Distracting. Sam paired his new ray of colors belt buckle with a grass green knit tie, which made him look like an adorable cartoon character, the businessman in a Scooby Doo show or something like that.

I went to church this morning (inside because rain again but at least it's almost warm) with Caleb and Christian and didn't need a hymnal (sometimes the hymns are really old and I know all the words), accompanied by my raucous headache and jittery hands from mainlining three more cups of coffee before we left to try and shake it, giving up and downing a handful of Tylenols instead.

Caleb drove, Christian followed in his own car because we had plans to go out for lunch after. At the last minute I invited Chris to join us but he was headed home to sleep off the God, as he put it and had some work to do that didn't want to see him out half the afternoon. He rarely leaves the house and works all the time it seems. I'm not sure if that's good or bad but outwardly he seems content and well-adjusted. He's never asked for much and he's very set in his way so I leave it at that. After Jacob flew Christian turned very slightly inward, noticeable enough but he never wants to talk about it. He and Jake were the Adrenaline twins with their rock climbing adventures and he no longer does that, doesn't snowboard, doesn't run unless I invite him along and maybe I just worry too much but I worry about the stark introversion of the entire Collective without end, most times.

I would say it isn't normal but then again nothing about any of us is, and that's why we're all together.

Our favorite lunch place was packed and so we found a different place but it wasn't private enough to talk much past pleasantries. Caleb asked about Ruth's university submissions and our plans to pay for it (Ben has asked to do that and has been squirrelling away money for years for the children, even long before we were a thing, which God bless him for that because Cole didn't have a dime) and how she's dealing with the pressure so we talked about that, mostly. He knows of Henry's plans, they talk constantly but Ruth is incredibly loyal to her father and so busy with her friends she doesn't make the rounds to talk to all the boys (save for PJ and Dalton -her favorites) and is a flash in the pan most days. I was too at that age (almost eighteen). Sometimes the boys would grab me out of thin air as I rushed past and asked me who I was again. It would make me laugh but it also made me sad, and I remind them often that once she gets settled in her future she'll be back with more time to spend. I think most of the time every last one of them is a proud father in some capacity and I love them for it.

Caleb kept his boundaries and his promises too and we were full and home by the appointed hour, and now I need a nap because this headache persists. I have a volunteer cuddler for it too, since Lochlan is still in bed sleeping. Perfect.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Dandy-free.

Sam walked into my bedroom this morning (I got to sleep in), put his Poland belt buckle on my night table and kissed my forehead.

Keep it safe, he laughed.

What is that? I stare at his new buckle. It's shiny and colourful. Almost a rainbow.

The flag for the Seychelles. 

Of course it is.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Hustler for life.

I'm been up since four-thirty this morning. I've had three giant mugs of coffee and five chocolate-chip cookies. The rest of the day should go well because I'm on a jittery roll.

I opened all the shutters on the windows, let the fire go out in the woodstove and the sun is pouring into the great room presently. It is part of the kitchen but is separated by a huge island and a table too so it was totally meant to be a sunroom. Only it's hardly ever sunny here so mostly it's a cozy area where it's perpetually warm and safe.

Sam is stretched out on the couch like a cat. The sun has turned his hair to gold and he's soaking up the warmth as I type. He was the first to come to me to negotiate a price and a timeline for me to do his taxes. Getting the jump on the rest, I hope, he said and I was so dismayed at the thought of having to do everyone's taxes again this year (they don't trust outsiders) that I doubled the price on a whim to try and dissuade him.

Ouch. Inflation?

Yes. Of course. I wink at him. Do you want that time slot or not? Hurry up, I have a waiting list.

Sure. Just tell me that you'll charge everyone even more and that I get a discount because I'm your favorite. 

I'll charge everyone even more and you get a discount because you're my favorite. I wink at him and he laughs.

Right. I get it. 

I hate taxes, Sam! 

But you're really good at it and I don't understand it at all. 

The fee is negotiable by the way. 

Wait. What? How? Umm....

Not like that, though, that thought is useful. I mean I'll cut your bill in half if you want to pay in goods. 

Goods?

The belt buckle, Sam. It needs to go. Let me have it and I'll put it away for posterity in a safe place and you can stop being an eighties cowboy.

This...this is part of me, Bridget. How dare you? I'll pay your whole fee. In fact, I'll pay fifty dollars more! But I'm keeping the buckle. Have you always felt this way?

I could care less. I just wanted to see if I could shake you down for a bigger fee. It worked. Imagine by the time I get through everyone in the house, I'll have enough to buy myself a new car this year after taxes are finished. 

Or you could just ask Caleb for one. 

Where's the fun in that?

This is not my post, it's an early-morning squeal.

There's something inside you that isn't right
Dear Lord. Starset has unclean vocals in their new album, Vessels. Lots of them.

*Dies happy*

Told you it wouldn't take much.

('Unclean' means death metal screaming, not dirty words if you have no idea what I'm talking about. We call it Cookie Monstering. The fact that I need to explain this MAKES BRIDGET SAD.)

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Talking to a different ghost.

(Known her forever but it's like we just met.)

Back to the sea early today. Well, late enough that the children were up for school already (in a blur of honour roll certificates found crumpled among science papers and the excitement of graduation photos/shoes/dresses/tickets/fundraisers and college applications, mind you) and the men (it's time to stop calling them boys) had scattered to the four corners of the house and beyond.

I avoided the rocks as promised, hugging the cliff as I make my way left to the beach, slowly. When I get past the boulders and down to fine peagravel and sand I march right up to the tide and crouch down, sticking my hands in the water, flat, palms down. Up to the bracelets is as far as I can go else I'm facefirst in the seaweed.

Hello again. I'm here.

The cold saltwater (my blood, I swear) stings a cut on my hand and whitens my skin as my bluer, undiluted blood beats a hasty retreat back to my heart. The draw threatens to pull me in but it's only teasing.

I did it, I tell her. I made it back to him. She pulls back in blind surprise, before rushing at me for a brief frigid embrace. I stand up and take two big steps backward so the water doesn't flood into my rainboots. Eventually I learn the lessons I am meant to. It just takes a long time.

I go into the driftwood house. I sit on the little shelf-bench and look out the doorless doorway. The Pacific ocean is framed perfectly here. I watch the tide become higher. It won't be all the way in until dinner time but it was lowest while I slept in Lochlan and Ben's arms through the darkest hours. She's already busy covering the treasures she dropped on her hasty middle of the night retreat, knowing I'm awake and searching. I don't mind. She'll do it again tomorrow and every day after. And I'll be here to see it. I'll be here to collect them.

I'll be here.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Garage fire.

Twelve hours of talking, sleeping, sorting, and listening later and we've come back to where we're supposed to be. Loch is the love of my life. I know it. He knows it. Hell, everyone knows this. It's always been this way, since I was ten and my heart started doing that weird lurching thing every time I saw him. I've strayed along the way but I always come back.

I'm assured that my misguided loyalties as well as my attempts to leave the collective by marrying Jacob (AKA running away from the cult just as I've run from everything else all life long) are long forgiven and not taken personally. Loch promises me I didn't break his heart when I said that so quickly yesterday, so assuredly. His heart was already previously broken by everything else I'd done since we're bent on making sure life is an eye for an eye. He broke my heart at fourteen for the first time and just about every minute since yet here we are with two partially-fused, tangled-together, strangely-timed beating hunks of bloody romance and we're fucking thrilled. We kept score but we're happy to be here.

Fucking thrilled.

At least I am. He probably shouldn't be. I told him he got a raw deal with me and he corrected me and said he got everything he ever wanted in me.

I tried to listen more than I talked. I tried to hear him, really hear what's in his heart, interpret his words, listen to what his soul wants, what it feels. This sounds so cheesy, I know, but I tried to be better and it feels good to know we didn't have a catastrophe over a fleeting thought, that we can allow for space to make mistakes. God knows, we're so good at it.

I don't want him to end up like the others. I don't want to be a burden on him. I don't want drama and confusion and 'arrangements'. I like our big bed and our routines and our time together, just us and with Ben too. It just feels like I'm where I'm supposed to be. With Lochlan. Always his shadow. Always his view. His sounding board and his comfort. His muse. His prized possession. As he is with me.

I wouldn't trade Lochlan if Jacob came back to life tomorrow. I would tell Jake that he missed out. That he fucked up. That he bailed when I needed him. He bailed when LIFE needed him and that means he no longer has a place. It would hurt but that's what I would say. I can miss him until I'm blue in the face from holding my breath crying but at the end of the day I'm where I belong. Always with Loch.

(And sometimes with others but that's totally casual and completely sanctioned so whatever. Shut up.)

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

On being the antagonist of your own story.

(I need a mouth with a time delay.)
There's no dreams in the waves
Only monsters
and the monsters are my only friends
A very early trip down to the beach this morning heralds the end of the snow and what we're going to officially call 'spring' here on the west coast. Heavy rain that has no end in sight resumes, washing away the remainder of winter like it was merely a streak of dirt on a pristine surface.The stairs are clear, the beach is unfamiliar after such a lack of contact that I don't even know how to greet the ocean suddenly, stepping forward shyly like it's our first date.

Hello. I bend down and check the water temperature, sticking my hands in up to my bracelets.

It's freezing cold but clear. I stand back up and head over to check on the condition of our little driftwood house and the breakwater. There is still a thick layer of ice on the dock so we'll skip that side completely. The house stands strong. I go inside and check to make sure the little piles of seaglass are still inside. The boys leave them for me to collect and bring up to the house, offerings I can't bear to touch or alter in any way and so they stay right there, safe and sound.

Are these offerings to the ghosts? 

No. 

Are they attempts to bring some permanence to your surroundings? 

Jesus. You sound like August! 

Your life is never stable and it's my fault. 

My life is like the tides. In and out. Up and down. Exactly how it's supposed to be, if that's how it is.

That's a defeatist view. 

A realist view. That's your fault, if you're looking for blame to shoulder. 

It's not good to talk back to the love of your life-

You're not the love of my-

And I stopped and looked at him with horror.

He stood in place but closed his eyes so I couldn't see his expression.

He finally opens them again. At least if I'm going to be second best it's good that it's to someone who isn't here. How did he get so much weight, Bridget? How did he take that place from me?

He saved my life. 

Lochlan looks at the sky. Pain is all over his face. Agonizing realizations crush simple conversation into a tidal wave. Forget knowing how to swim. We don't stand a chance.

I suppose I should be grateful for that, he said. And I am. Truly. But I plan to replace him. 

Am I worth it? Because I'd like you to do that but only if it's worth it in the end. 

Oh, it is. You have no idea. I'd walk through fire for you. 

I'm pretty sure you already have. 

Then we're well underway. 

I'm sorry, Locket. It's not like I can compare. It's like when one of your children asks you who your favourite is. There isn't one-

I get it, Bridget. I guess if nothing else I'm glad you're honest and not lying through your teeth about where I stand. 

There's nothing to be gained from it. 

And then you evaluate the merit of telling the truth. I taught you too well. Some days I wish we could start over and then I wouldn't have to stand here arguing with a mirror. 

Well, that isn't nice at all. 

Maybe it isn't, but that isn't your fault either. 

(Update: he's not fooled by my rash declarations. I'm crushed by them but he insists it's just kneejerk loyalty to someone who isn't here to fight for himself, and that I don't really feel this way. I like his interpretation, mostly because he promises me I won't feel like this forever and that he was there before and he'll be here after. Forever. Happily ever after. Unlike Jacob.)

Monday, 16 January 2017

(Someday I'll be) Saturday Night.

(Let me just cover my eyes and blush like a fucking fool here. We're not going to discuss this in house but DAMN. It was fun.)

Sitting on his lap, he pulls me forward for a kiss. A very gentle kiss. He laughs into my mouth quietly. His arms slide around my back as he holds on tightly. So good. He presses me to his chest and I close my eyes.

At least stay tonight until I fall asleep.

Maybe. I promise nothing as he exhales against my throat. It gives me goosebumps.

Better than nothing, he whispers. Behind me I hear Loch get up and walk out of the room.

Caleb watches him leave and takes his cue. Are you okay with this?

I nod and he lies me back flat. He begins to unlace my dress, smiling quietly to himself. Like he's opening a present. I smile back at the devil. So far so good. He swears and gives up quickly, instead lifting the hem of my dress up from the bottom. I arch my back and he pulls it off my body gently, swearing softly at what he sees. Tattoos in vintage lingerie. Beautiful delicate lace and satin in colors to rival the cashmere from before.

Wow.

Yeah. Hey? Isn't it beautiful?

Yes. I like it.

But then it's on the floor and he's busy fighting muscle memory. Instead of letting history run a familiar scenario, he's trying to start over. He wants this to be new. No mistakes. No loss of control or emotions. No winners, no losers. Good experiences only.

I cry out and Lochlan comes back. He turns to go out again and Caleb calls to him. Come in. Come here. Hold her.

Something flashes across Loch's face that I don't recognize and he responds, joining us. The night becomes a blur and I am shaking when I finally untangle myself from them. They keep reaching for me though and I can't do anymore. I fall asleep with one arm around Lochlan's neck, in a spoon with Caleb, Lochlan's free arm thrown over us both. He's up higher than we are so his arm is mostly against my cheek. The music keeps playing from the living room and I fall asleep hard. I'm not bitten. I'm not ashamed. I'm thrilled that Lochlan came back and didn't leave me here alone. I'm wondering how long it will hold. Lochlan's generosity. Caleb's temperament. My bravery. Pick something.

I get my first answer at three-thirty when sleep is abruptly broken as I am lifted off the bed. Surprised, I cry out softly. Caleb pushes me up against the door and shoves himself into me so violently I can't breathe. He drives hard against me as I hyperventilate, trying to catch my breath around his fingers, his hand over my mouth. I try to peel his fingers away and he takes my hands, pinning them high up over my head with his left hand. His right hand is underneath me, holding me up and I can't help myself.

Come for me, Doll. Come hard. Right now.

I always follow his orders and this time he's right behind me. His fingers lift away from my mouth so I can breathe again just in time to ride the wave of adrenaline and he keeps me there forever until he joins me on that wave. He gently slides me down so that my feet touch the floor. Lochlan is sitting up. He wants you now, Caleb whispers into my hair from behind me now and I go back to Lochlan, who puts his arms out, pulling me in, pulling me underneath him, back to holding me so tightly breath is going to be the one thing that doesn't come easily tonight. Lochlan's not going to be shown up. Not tonight. He turns me over and then lifts my whole body up so I'm still pressed against him, head back against his shoulder, eyes closed as he picks up speed against me, one hand jammed down underneath me until I'm seeing stars. I practically keen and he matches the sound, putting his head down against my back, pushing me down on my face as he leverages his weight on me while his hands pull my hips up hard against him. He finishes as all nice guys do.

Last.

Best for last.

We have another toast, this time with bedhead and I can hardly hold my glass for my hands are shaking too much.

Time to go. Lochlan smooths my hair back down, kissing the top of my head. He dresses quickly and then pulls my dress down over my head and laughs at my surprised expression when my face pops out the top.

It's good to be on the right side of things again. Caleb shakes Lochlan's hand and then impulsively pulls him in for a hard hug. Lochlan hugs him back but it's hesitant. Guarded still. Even after this.

Caleb pulls me up and gazes at my face. Go get a little sleep, Neamhchiontach. You've made an old man very happy tonight. 

Yeah, he is, isn't he? I look at Lochlan who waits at the doorway for me. Relief is on his face mixed with a little guilt maybe. And there's some incredulity in there as well. This is the way he looks when he wakes up every morning in a cuddle with Ben when he thinks it's me. It's the most adorable thing on the planet and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Come on, Peanut. We need some rest. 

Thank you for bringing her, Caleb tells him.

She brought me. 

Thank you for bringing him, then. Caleb says to me and I'd laugh but I'm too tired now.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Truants and rogues.

My nightmare is death, it's running out of time, leaving hearts broken, harsh words spoken or worse, nothing at all. My dream is a rush of panic to fix it all before it's too late.

Too late is one of the most frightening, disappointing phrases in the English language. You should have been faster, worked harder, made a better effort to get it all done before time was up.

Time is always up. That's the one sureity we're given in life. Death. We're running toward a finish line. It does not matter if we run slowly, fast or detour to a different track entirely. It's still there. Way up ahead. Waiting for us.

When I get to the finish line I want to have been loved, and I want them to know that I love them. All of them. With everything I had.

That's why, to answer PJ's question when we rolled in just after four-forty-five this morning. I am so tired this morning I'm hallucinating and didn't even attempt to go to church. I told Sam I'd get struck by lightning anyway, if I tried and he started in with some attempt to tell me God loves me most when I fight the hardest and I turned around and pointed out God doesn't love me at all so let's bail on these miserable charades. Sam didn't say anything else but went off to probably give a sermon about being disappointed in those you put on pedestals and why you probably shouldn't do that. They're going to let you down but don't worry, you're not off their list because they're insatiable, incorrigible and ruined already. You won't even have to take blame with you when you go to them. It's built right in.

I need coffee. More later, maybe. Everything's fine. I'm just so fucking tired.