Saturday, 22 July 2017

A first (sign of trouble).

Maybe it's because I regard him with full gravitas, or maybe it's because I don't fight back anymore when he tells me to go, or do something or feel something else or listen better, maybe it's because he feels sorry for the fact that I do that so easily. Submit. Acquiesce. I don't know. Maybe he's finally admitting he's lonely. Maybe things are changing for the worse. Maybe for the better. Maybe it was just a fuck it moment (after a fuck her moment.)

Maybes are dumb. They mean nothing. This meant an awful lot but at the same time I can't put any meaning into it simply because he won't allow it, explain it or apologize for it.

What time is it, Bridge? August has his eyes closed. The bed drifts so slightly in its' lazy swing it's hardly moving.

Time for me to go, I guess. We do this dance every time. Usually he's a lot harsher, telling me to get out or go home without warning. That's when I know I've found a comfortable place under his skin. Comfortable for me, I mean. Not for him. He'll play Jake until he can't do it any more and then he closes the door in my face.

You can stay. Go home in the morning. 

I didn't think I heard him right but I was listening hard. He put his arms out and I found a good place smashed hard right up against him, breathing against the hollow of his throat and when I woke up it was already the weekend and he wasn't Jake. He's never Jake after the first little while but I've known that forever.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Beach rats.

It was fifteen full hours until we returned last evening, and while I was glad I went, in order to spend so much time with Benjamin, I was relieved to be home. Relieved to find my way in the dark through the rooms upstairs and into the arms of Lochlan, who pulled both of us down into his dreams alongside him and there we remained until the sun came up again today.

He and Ben have settled into an overtly-close affection once again. It's possibly a more welcome sight than any other as Ben sometimes feels left out, sometimes feels like he screwed things up even as I tell him he didn't but I wished I could have given him everything he deserves.

You do. Present-tense. A gift.

And sometimes Lochlan feels shoved to the side in my rush to fill my moments with as much affection as I can possibly find, with whomever will give it, even as I tell him it doesn't matter, or that it's his fault in that he raised me this way.

I know, he reminds me softly, generously. But today is mine, he threatens, lips against my forehead. You two aren't going anywhere today. 

It's wishful thinking. Ben has a regular meeting. He takes Duncan. I don't go though. I'll stay home with Lochlan and do a little errant gardening while he works on the camper. I'll pick raspberries and eat them where I stand, I'll cut back grapevines but not where there are grapes, I'll stand and wonder why the apple trees produce so little even after I have given them so much love. Maybe if the day runs very long I'll venture into the studio and look at my empty canvas and plan a painting that's very far off because the last one took a lot out of me.

Maybe it won't be so hot today. Maybe we'll swim in the pool. Maybe PJ left some olives in the fridge. And maybe some champagne. Maybe the devil will come out and join us for lunch. Maybe pigs will fly past the point and taunt me from the air for this one perfect day. Maybe things will be better. This side of the bed holds so much promise when I get up from it. Cross your fingers.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

A voice fuelled by anguish/Infrared light.

(Yet another bright light burns out and everyone goes through the motions instead of making change. We made changes to deal with these kind of lights and we fight for each other while we fight for ourselves. I can't imagine what life is truly like outside of my bubble, but that's okay because I don't want to know.)
Bring me home in a blinding dream
Through the secrets that I have seen
Wash the sorrow from off my skin
And show me how to be whole again
It's a sort of fragility you can only see if you have it too. A sad secret society. An unwanted pass into a club you didn't want any part of and it sucks. I can see it. I don't want to see it. I can predict it and I hate that.

It sucks.

I've got both arms around Ben and I don't want to let go. He has to go, though. He's got a meeting and then a brunch and then a different sort of meeting and then a conference call and then facetime and then maybe, if he ever finishes his day he'll come back and fall asleep with me but for the next fifteen or eighteen hours I won't see him and today that's an emergency.

Postpone it. 

What? 


All of it. I wave my hand dismissively. Do it next week. 

He turns and sits in front of me. That's the thing, Bumblebee. Life keeps going. Just with different faces, different plans. It never stops. You know this. 

And I hate it. 

I know but it's still going. It doesn't care how you feel about it. 

How do I make it stop?

It's better if you don't. 

I can't breathe. 

Yes you can. There are books, there's running, there are hugs, there are talks, there is so much to help with the hard parts. 

I put my head down between my knees and scream.

His eyes water. Don't make me doubt myself, Bridge. There's been enough of that lately. Come with me. 

I'm not fit-

I don't care. Come along and listen to music in the truck. Bring your sketchbook. Take a video of your day and put it up so people can see that you're safe. So you can see you're alive.

I don't answer him. I keep flexing my fingers into fists so I don't cry. It's not working it's not working it's not working. FUCK.

Are you coming with me? I really need you with me. 

I am. 

Good, I could use your face in my day. I don't know the others. I feel like screaming too. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

#poly.

I woke up like this. Hair suddenly past my shoulders in big loopy waves. Longer than Lochlan's hair. Perfect for space buns or a braid even, though I mostly looked like I rolled out of bed at any given moment. Not a lie most of the time but still, I'm somewhat relieved that the pixie cut days are two years past me now and by Christmas or next spring at the latest my mermaid hair will be back in force. 

I only mention it because Caleb mentioned it this morning when I woke up. I think your hair grew overnight. 

He's not pleased or disappointed, he's well-reputed in liking my hair chin length or shorter and so I promptly said Good, I can't wait until I can sit on it again and then I got the expected grim set of his beautiful mouth as he doesn't choose to have a poker face sometimes either. 

He lobbied hard for a brief escape for me yesterday out of the blue and won, exchanging a date later in the month for last evening and so we watched horror movies and sipped Lagavulin until our eyes were heavy and our hands useless. Then I slept. A full eight hours without a single interruption before he woke me at six thirty, pinning me beneath him, one hand around my neck, one eye on the clock as he had a meeting downtown. I was walked across the driveway when he was dressed afterward in a full suit of regret, as he said there is nothing more awful then leaving me in his bed if he can't be home and so I had to go and I pouted just for him, as he quickly found out I wasn't doing bunny ears at all the other day on the beach. 

He kissed my bottom lip and said he loves that too and that maybe he'll be over for dinner tonight, that he'll let me know how the day goes. He left me in Sam's hands and I feel as if I'm being passed around a lot lately when Lochlan's overly busy with things with Batman (whom he still claims not to work for anymore) and I'm not sure if it's just a coincidence or a direct result of Jay coming back. I just know that my dance card is full and so is my bed lately and I'm not sure I mind, exactly. I got my hand slapped for flirting with him on the beach and maybe it's shame or embarrassment that makes my hair grow faster. I'm sure I'll find out which soon enough.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

I'm just now realizing how much of their influence made me who I am today.

My whole life they've called me a reverse-vampire, loving the light, up with the sun, disappearing when the sun went to bed. Don't get me wrong, I adore the late-night lights and noise of the midway but I'm also holding my eyelids open with my fingers to take it all in.

I think that's all changed now. I still wake up at the crack of ridiculous, swim in the coffee pot until I think I can open my mouth to speak without a hundred different voices all screaming the same indignation coming out but I can't even be in the sun for a minute anymore. I'm instantly headachey, over-heated, under-hydrated and overwhelmingly miserable.

I didn't swim today. The minute I opened my face to complain about the heat Duncan threw me off the cliff. There I remained, floating on my back, trying to teach him a lesson without getting too nervous doing it. It's difficult to turn your back on Bridget's Undersea Imaginary Creature Keepers.

Why's she so scared?

There's a Buick at the bottom. (GET IT? Cole made the acronym, I provided the fearful tears. There was actually an old car at the bottom of the lake when we were growing up. Well, there was until the early eighties when it was towed out, empty. It turns out it was only a frame with a couple of body panels bolted to it that a homeowner put in to practice his scuba diving and then moved away and left it.)

Really? 

Yeah. We told her it was full of people who are still there to this day, waiting for helpless souls to come close so they can grab them by the legs and possess their bodies to live again. 

That was fucking dumb. She's going to drown, trying to swim and scream at the same time. 

We'll save her. 

In a minute. 

They laugh, or so I imagine they did and I never swam without a buddy ever again. I still don't, honestly and that's why I have to wait here for Duncan to jump in after me. The creatures can't have my soul since I don't have one but right now I'd auction his off to the lowest bidder. Name your price.

And then Ben hits the water right beside me and I almost drown anyway, getting pushed under by the huge wave of displacement when he hits.

He brings us both up at once. I'm sure when he opens his eyes my face must have been a nightmare, an angry, bratty, waterlogged scowl of a nightmare when he'd rather see a smile.

How long would you have waited? Loch said something about a Pontiac. I had no idea what he was going on about. 

Buick. 

I don't understand. You're afraid of Buicks? 

Yes. No. It's a long story. 

It's a long swim back, Bee. Tell me. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Terribly good.

I walked on the beach this morning with Jay (Jacob/New-Jake, you know who he is). We took our sweaters, our mugs full of coffee and Caleb with us. No harm, no foul seems to be the rule of the day. They all want Jay here. They worked out their issues, somehow sure we're not doomed to repeat history and he's asked for Jay's help in keeping me 'safe'. 

The only thing she has to fear here is us. 

You. 

And a number of others. 

Right. 

Then what do you want me to do?

Not fuck this up.

Jay throws his hands up. If you're asking me if I can keep my hands to myself I can but if she instigates-

She won't. 

I bite my tongue and close my eyes so hard I see black spots and waver magnificently. Caleb puts out one hand and steadies me without even looking. 

If she does-

Then we'll deal with her. 

I've seen the way you deal with her and I think you're all fucked in the head and she's the sanest one here. 

I love you. I gaze at Jay and smile. His whole face breaks into a reciprocal smile and I forgot how cute he can be. 

She doesn't mean that the way you think, Caleb tells him.

I'm aware. I don't know if you've noticed but we've known each other five years now. 

That's the equivalent of an hour compared to the rest of us. 

What's your point, Caleb? 

I think you fit in here. I think you can hold your own. And yet you seem to been almost gleefully exploiting her weaknesses when we're trying to build her up. I guess I don't understand what you're doing. 

We get alone really great. She's a like-minded individual. We mesh. Hell, she's been great to me. I fucked up and touched her. I thought it was okay. I didn't realize only certain guys can. I won't do that again. I'd like to stay though. It's a good place to be. I understand the repercussions mean I leave forever so I don't want to have that happen. I learned my lesson.

But you're a time bomb. 

Medically, yes. But otherwise if I make you a promise I'll keep it. 

I frown and stick out my lower lip because I have zero chill and no poker face and Jacob sees me and laughs out loud. By the time Caleb turns to look at me I've fixed it and I'm frowning at him. 

What did you do?

Bunny ears. 

Ah. Glad you're taking your own future seriously, Bridget.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Jesus chores.

Worn out. Long day. I was handed a big glass of whiskey with ice and I took it. The ice is long melted but I'm still sipping. Three days away wasn't enough. I need a week or two to unwind but it's been hectic since March around here with precious few stretches of total calm.

Sam reminds me it's life. You handle what you can and leave the rest to Him. 

When he says this I startle as he assumes so easily that I know who he means and I fumble for a name. Maybe Lochlan. Ben? Caleb. Jacob the ghost. Batman. Uh. Oh. God.

Right. He's not going to pick up my slack and get the car maintenance done, buy new socks for the boys or get groceries while I'm busy tackling other things on the list, but if he is willing, tell him to text me and let me know which things I can delegate.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Albatross.

When I woke up I had them both in a head lock and my shoulders were screaming. I think that's what woke me up, the sound of my whole body protesting, having fallen asleep in a painful position that took several minutes to change. I had one arm around Ben's neck and one around Lochlan's and yet I was lying on my stomach so my arms were pulled back up and hard. They seemed content on their sides, arms crossed over my back, touching each other to make sure no one left in our sleep. And no one did, I made sure of it.

I had just stopped sleeping with my sling on for protection from my elbow that got pulled out again. This morning is now Vicodin laced with coffee for me and there are elves in the trees and rainbows shooting from my eyes but at least nothing hurts now. I mean I can't actually feel my arms or my legs or my teeth and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to bake Henry's birthday cake like this but I think I'll have a lot of help.

Daniel is coming over to help me this morning. The boys are going golfing. Danny doesn't golf. He and I have fucked-up shoulders, elbows and legs and actually I lie. It's boring as fuck and I hate it even though I'm really good at it. I scored a 97 on my last game of nine holes. I'm a natural, clearly.

Lochlan has promised not to throw any clubs. Caleb hasn't. Should I be worried? Ben said he wouldn't eat or bend any clubs and no one believed him. Then he winked and assured me he will keep Lochlan in line, though I think Lochlan will last about five holes before his own arm issues put him on the sidelines. That will piss him off too though, so I'm glad I'm not going.

After baking and decorating if there's any time left we're going to work on my outfits and gifts for Burning Man. SO excited.

Friday, 14 July 2017

All I have.

It was only after Ben moved off me, stretching out to sleep in the dark that he spoke, and I didn't even know he was there. I jumped right out of my skin. It was cold, sure, but at least it didn't have the sting of Ben's razor burn all over.

Of course my bones all fell to the floor in a heap. Teeth too, and my brain rolled away under the bed and so I couldn't think of anything good to say and even if I could have, I wouldn't have been able to say it.

You didn't wait for me. 

Lochlan's voice has a jealous tinge, a beautiful kelly-green shade that turns it thick, luminous-rich.

My finger bones team up, find my brain, pull out some words and run them through my teeth until sound comes out.

Sorry. 

Not her fault, Ben says from his dreams. I don't think he's noticed he's still holding my skin from where I leapt from it. I think he finds it to be a security blanket. It won't cover him though, if you stretch it out square I think I'm the size of a king pillowcase.

Good enough, Ben says. He covers one side of his torso with it and goes back to sleep. Sorry, he says again and my brain flexes in a cringe. Once Ben's out, he's out like the dark. He sleeps like the dead. It scares me but right now I have more important things to do, like stand here to juggle these hearts because God help us all if they roll away somewhere out of reach.

I was here waiting for you. More luminous slime pours from Lochlan and my bones rattle faintly as they shake.

You didn't say anything when we came in. My brain is doing a masterful job of finding words that fit together. It's a puzzle. One for ages 8+. One I probably couldn't finish if I tried.

My bones float to the surface of his ire, still jangling faintly against each other and he swallows me whole, chewing on my brain because it's tough and bigger than it looks. He chokes it back and swallows.

Now my teeth have nothing to read.

Sleep, Bridgie. We'll talk about it tomorrow. 

I close my eyes with the finger I can reach. It's like when someone dies and you reach out and press their eyelids down over their pupils because they're never going to see you again. I did that for Cole so he couldn't find me anymore. It worked too well. Sometimes I miss him too and then I'm swimming in Lochlan's green pool, while monsters from the depths of his soul reach for my legs to pull me under. I scream at the thought and his jealousy floods down my throat into my toes, filling up my skin, leaving Ben exposed, at risk of losing everything.

I piece together one whole hand to leave resting on Ben's heart. He'll be safe that way while I sacrifice myself. That's how it's done around here, or so I've been told.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Best listened to very loud with headphones on the edge of a cliff, I swear to you, but sadly my piano is inside.

This doesn't seem to be anywhere on the Internet so I'm putting it up for others. I'm working out the piano for it and I need to sing at the top of my lungs to do that, but the words were nowhere to be found. I managed to transcribe it myself, in spite of being deaf, so some of it could be misheard.

Behold, the lyrics for I Remember, by Les Friction featuring Emily Valentine. Well done. It's beautiful!

Some lies can live on their own
No need to assist
Some lies will circle around til love pulls it down
I’ve set a course for losing you
I’ve no remorse for what I do

We say nothing, holding it in
How did we travel this far
Knowing that our light will fade
Remember nothing, Let it all go
We’ll live our destiny alone

The truth is in a whisper, your life is in a kiss
Hands can’t be held when they’re clenched into a fist
Your eyes are a crime frozen in time
This prison is yours

Feel me Heal me
Feel me Heal me

I don’t want to remember
I’m moving to newer frontiers
I will build my own empire and banish myself from me there
I don’t to want remember the life I chose
I will burn our destiny
Because you and I will always be alone

Feel me Heal me
Feel me Heal me
Feel me Heal me
Feel me Heal me

I remember the reason I built myself
You and I can tear it all down and let the past begin to melt
I remember eternity, love I don’t
I will fight for our destiny
because you and I will never be alone

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

You've missed everything.

(Just a footnote from your friendly neighborhood masochist Princess: The beginning of this post features a decade-old memory as detailed here.)

He leaned his head against mine where I sat trying to read in fading light. Princess. Put your book away. 

I want to finish it tonight. 

Do that tomorrow. He takes the book, carefully marking my page, and places it on the side table. Then he pulls me to my feet. His pale blue eyes crinkle up into a soft smile. Tomorrow's a big day. 

No more training wheels. 

No more training wheels. 

Henry's going to try riding without them. And yet instead of a bribe Jacob got down on his knees and asked Henry to consider something that might make him feel even more excited than if he got a new toy as a reward for trying something difficult.

Like what? Henry is rapt.

What if you had all kinds of good feelings burst forth from deep inside, the kind that remind you that you're doing your very best? 

Those are good but I'm presently collecting Hot Wheels. Henry is as stubborn as his mother.

Jacob laughs out loud. Maybe we can arrange for both Hot Wheels and good feelings? 

Deal, Henry is firm. They shake on it. It's official now, can't go back.

He's ready, I tell Jake, who seems concerned suddenly.

You're right. Why are you so calm and sure with them and so unsure about so many other things?

No one's bribing me with Hot Wheels. I laugh and he purposefully flips open my book and moves the bookmark to a random page.

I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST DID THAT. 

WELL I DID. 

He pulls me in close and I get a kiss. His beard is rough. His hands, rougher as they slide up my ribcage under my shirt. I'm almost off the ground trying to reach his face and I lean into him hard-

BRIDGET. 

I open my eyes. My memory thief is looking at me over his shoulder as he opens up his briefcase and then starts pulling drawers out, dumping them in whole. The briefcase is bottomless, and my memories disappear into the black hole.

Looks like I forgot a few. Sorry about that. 

What about the letters you wanted me to read? 

Those are instructions and reminders, not walks down memory lane. They can't hurt you. 

Neither can he. You are, though. 

No, I'm helping. 

This isn't helping. Leave me be, Sam. Please. 

He finishes the whole filing cabinet and instead of opening the next one he comes over to me. I make a note of which one is left. O though T. Got it. Bridget, we love you and we don't want to see you suffer. 

I roll over, pull the quilts in tightly around my frame and close my eyes. If I can drop back into this dream, I'll be able to breathe next time I wake up. Or at least I hope I can.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Bumblebees.

No sooner does the dust settle from school ending (forever ending for Ruth, who's going to University in the fall, having navigated graduation ceremonies and dry-grad dinner/dance with ease, having achieved a medal for excellence, a merit scholarship and honour roll on her way out the door, but Henry turns sixteen this coming weekend and I feel like the record of my life has suddenly spun up to 78 rpm and I'm clinging to it with my teeth.

This Monday I'll take him in to write for his learner's permit, and then the boys will begin to teach him how to drive. He swears he knows already, having played GTA, promptly failed the online practice test, and realized he has to actually read the book. Once he is reasonably competent I'll spend the next year letting him chauffeur me around town while I yell out the last-minute instructions he will be expected to remember (and utilize) for a lifetime.

Yeesh. Ruth just got her Novice license in February. It feels like yesterday. It was yesterday. Jesus. This is what happens when you have children less than two years apart in age. It's easier than spreading it out but also far more pressure all at once.

I'm busy as a bee today though, finalizing birthday plans, plotting surprises, wrapping like mad and like I said, just trying to hang on. It feels sometimes as if there's a birthday just about every weekend, and that's because there almost is. The balloon people know me by name, I buy wrapping paper in bulk, and my cake pans hardly ever make it to the pan-drawer, as everyone likes my homemade cakes the best.

No pressure at all.

Monday, 10 July 2017

He still asks the same first question every year when we go to the fair.

Fried cat tail? Andrew smiles and takes a huge bite of a corn dog. I'm seven years old, and we're back together for the summer or at least a week of it during midway season, which my family spent travelling all around the coast each year.

They're not cat tails! I'm scornful and bossy. We're equals in this relationship. He teases me and I call him out because I'm convinced I am smarter.

Would you rather have a candy apple? Those brown ones are rotten. They've been in the window too long. They give those ones out at night when people can't see so good. 

So well. 


Oh well is right. We won't be here that late anyway so we're safe. 

They're caramel, Andrew. Geeeeez. 

Nope. Rotten red. Old candy coating. It petrifies. 

Petri-what?

Petrifies. That means it gets hard and turns to stone because it has air circulation so it doesn't get moldy.

Oh. 

Why don't you know these words? 

I go to French school. 

Oh yeah. What about math? 

I do it in French. 

Are the numbers the same?

I think so. 

But what if you have a math problem in English? 

I'll have to ask someone to do it for me. Just like if someone has a French math problem they can ask me. 

But are you any good at it? 

No, not really. 

Then I'll buy you a cat tail to eat because I feel bad for you. And I got my allowance this morning. 

How much did you get? 

Five dollars. 

Wow. Lucky. 

I got a raise because I turned eight, remember? 

Yeah. Andrew?

Yeah? 

Do you think we'll still be doing this when we're grownups?

Of course. But we'll have way more money to spend. And I'll still be able to help you with the English math.

Promise? 

Of course.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sheltering in place.

Lochlan put his hand around the back of my neck just as I stirred awake this morning, gave me a kiss that left me breathless and said he was calling in hooky to church this morning. Sam sat up and asked if he thought he might get caught and I laughed too because I think Lochlan forgot Sam was even there.

He was. We fell asleep last night whispering about all the things we love. New bars of soap. Campfires. Glitter. Canoe trips in quiet lakes. Finding unusual colors of sea glass. Marshmallows toasted just right. Friendly horses, friendlier owners. Very good lemonade. Long hard hugs. I fell asleep with the most beautiful thoughts in my head, and when I woke up, Lochlan was there with that kiss.

That glorious kiss.

Three of us called in hooky to church and set the tone for the whole point to be heathens along with us and not show up.

(It's actually okay. Sam's second minister was leading the service this week anyway.)

Dalton made crepes for us for breakfast.

What are crepes again? 

Think really thin pancakes. 

Like a thin-crust pizza versus regular?

Yes?

I'll pass. 

But they're full of whipped cream and chocolate.

I'm back in. 

Figures.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Another day, another...well.. God we fight a lot.

Today is quiet and warm. Twenty-eight and climbing and I've used up my chlorine-exposure allowance for the day too early, switching to the cliffs just before lunch, jumping off and swimming back so many times even Duncan got tired and begged for a break.

Once more then, and we'll stop. 

Jesus, Lochlan must have had his hands full raising you. 

Lochlan nods. You should see her begging for one more candy apple. Christ. It was like trying to bottle lightning. 

Good things shouldn't have a time limit. 

I agree, Lochlan says and my knees buckle.

There she goes, Duncan laughs, and grabs me up to throw me off the cliff. I shriek and he goes running and then I sail through the air, loving the first two seconds, and freezing for the last three before smashing into the water hard, turning my blood to ice, waking me up, forcing me back up to the surface where I fill my lungs again. The colors are brighter, the water feels solid, the world is a second-chance in that moment. That's why I do it. I give myself his second chance. Jacob hit hard, there was no surface to fight back to, no more breath, no colors, no Bridget after that.

I turn and lie on my back, giving Lochlan the thumbs up as Duncan lands in the water just a little further out. Yes, I'm fine. Am I ever fine? I don't do this because it's a thrill, because I love the feeling of falling, I do it to baptize myself again and I fail but I keep trying.

We climb up the steps and are met with fresh towels. Ready to go in? 

Yes, I lie. Hey, Loch? Can we get candy apples? 

Yes, we can. Just one though. He laughs and then is serious again. You okay? 

Not so much. 

I don't want you jumping off anymore. 

That's like telling someone not to breathe. 

No it isn't-

LET ME. 

HEY. He grabs my arm and yanks me back. I didn't say you couldn't. I said I don't WANT YOU TO. There's a difference, Bridget. LISTEN instead of reacting. 

WHEN HAVE I EVER DONE THAT?

Wish you would. He looked so sad suddenly. It was like I was looking in a mirror and my breath caught again in my chest. I'm sorry, Lochlan.

We're here. We're living. No one said it was going to be easy but it's better than THAT. He points to the cliff again. Fuck his faith, Bridget. You said I don't have any, well I have a hell of a lot more than Jake ever did, and don't you forget it. 

Friday, 7 July 2017

No spoilers.

I am older than I once was
And younger than I'll be
But that's not unusual
No it isn't strange
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same
It's early and it's not hot, it's simply beautiful out, a balmy twenty-two degrees in the wind, a Bridget Day if ever there was one. Today is a better day by far, one that I needed. One I fought for. I got the last croissant. I made a whole pot of coffee and PJ only stole a small cup, leaving the whole thing for me. I'm on my last cup now. I switched out tapestries on the tables in the house and out by the pool. I have dozens. In amongst them I found my old pants. Crazy wrap-around tie-dyed harem pants. Softest cotton ever. I put them on with an army green tank top and Lochlan laughed when he saw them.

I didn't think you still had those, he said.

I'm going to get five more pairs. These are the best.

Seriously? 

Well they're more fun than the endless parade of black dresses and leggings, aren't they? 

In a way, yes. But he is unconvinced. I think he's grown used to the little black cloud. It's okay, so have I. But when I'm not wearing black I'm wearing tie-dye, patchwork or some recycled sari concoction. I used to be so colorful. Sometimes I still am. Lochlan started that, too.

He kidnapped me last night and we went out front to the little grotto under the trees, now lush and private thanks to the ever encroaching forest around this house. It grows into a little green cave each summer, redolent with hollyhocks and the smell of cedar. Lochlan had the bluetooth speaker playing softly, and he brought the picnic basket with a late dinner and some champagne.

He talked for a long time. I watched him and ate and drank and after not all that long I was full and almost-drunk and very sleepy and we were square. Then he handed me off to Caleb for more concentrating under duress and Caleb made his amends as well and we're back to the square with the one on it and that's good. Or maybe it's late. Or maybe I had too much champagne and my eyes were beginning to flutter like my hands and I was brought back to the front door. Back to Lochlan. Back to Ben. Back to Sam as he's around again.

 We're good. Everything's good. Everyone's fine. The Collective survives to fight another day together. Not that it was in any danger but things are always better if we're all on the same page, instead of some people lagging behind while others read ahead.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Neon Lights.

We can go forget who we are
Jay looked like such an easy mark in the late evening sunlight so I kept walking, blinded by my own need to be somewhere that was different and comforting and safe and not with Lochlan or with the Devil either. Them arguing is hard enough, imagine trying to exist when they're getting along. They both get equal blame for how this started, before Lochlan grabbed my heart when Caleb wasn't looking and ran right out of the woods, off towards the lights of the midway in the distance.

I don't blame them anymore though. I just feel strange when they get along very well. They got along so well Caleb ended up having a two-night sleepover at the big house and I got a little overtired and a lot overstimulated and was thinking about building a treehouse because we have everything else and it unearthed a memory that doesn't change anything save to paint Lochlan as the one who stands idylly by while Caleb feasts on my bones.

That was never the case and it isn't the case now and I find myself with a opportunistic ear in August, who is home, all the lights on, the fan on the ceiling making a lazy loop and music on the stereo. enjoying a cold beer and some watermelon besides. A quiet evening I'm about to ruin with my fountain of words. Just as you think they're finished they cycle back around and pour out again, over the top to the pool below.

Want one? They're non-alcoholic. They're not even near beer, actually. It's more like ginger ale if you made it yourself. 

I take one and he cracks the tab on it for me. I take a sip. Stupidly sweet. Good enough.

Can I fix you a plate? 

I'm fine. I just want to be here right now. You don't even have to talk to me. And if you had plans just continue with them. I won't be in the way, I promise.

I was going to have a bath. With my fake beer and music and everything.

You can still do that. I'll go. 

I'll delay it for an hour. How does that sound? 

No. I don't know. Yes. Can I just sleep for a little bit? 

Yeah. Sure. Help yourself. He indicates the bed on the ropes and gives it a gentle push. I'll wake you at eight to go home? 

Okay. 

Do you want to talk it out first? 

Not really.

Then goodnight, Bridge. He takes the can from my shaky hands, kisses my forehead and heads down the hallway. I climb under the top blanket and am asleep in precious few seconds.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Sorry. (It's back. Fuck censorship. Fuck respect too. It goes BOTH WAYS.)

I had a post today but it's gone now. I thought it was fine. It's my brain, not theirs. My memories, not the parts of life they'd like to whitewash, diluting them until they mix into some other memory, forgotten entirely. My history as it pertains to me.

I wrote about a summer early evening a very long time ago when I was ten in which Caleb and Lochlan took me up to the treehouse so I could see it, as I wanted to see it and climb up to it and it was for the older kids. They didn't like me writing about it.

It wasn't anything bad.

It was supposed to be, it could have been, but it wasn't. But I was told to take it down and out of respect to both of them I did and now I'm left with nothing for the day to write about. Caleb has gone back to his side of the property at last, having remained here with us for a few days. It was really nice but then I reminded him and everyone else that he is the Devil so now he's gone again and we go back to being at each other's throats or whatever it is I'm supposed to be here.

I'm not allowed to work things out. Not allowed to bring them up, not allowed to make anyone feel bad, though it's okay if I feel bad, I guess. I'll just jam it back down there in the dark with all the other uncategorized, unexamined memories where they can fester and ache and I'll promise not to make them feel bad.

Ironic. And now, just like that night when I was ten and they gave me beer, my stomach hurts and everything feels weird.

The first emotion, or so they say, is curiosity. They shouldn't have said that.

(Trouble finds you, Bridget, and then it walks behind you, darting into the shadows when you sense something, turning around to call Who's there? It stalks you and it sets you up and the sad part is you never even heard it coming.)

***

Teenage boys have really bad ideas sometimes. Sometimes they don't outgrow them even as you'd think they ought to.

***
I don't know what to say
But I'm going to want you till the stars evaporate
We're only here for just a moment in the light
One day it shines for us the next we're in the night
He uncovered my eyes. There's a tree in front of me, wider than I can hug, with boards nailed in a makeshift ladder up the trunk. Surprise.

The tree house? I can go up?

Sure.

But you said it was too dangermouse.

Dangerous. We made it safer.

I climb the ladder gingerly, still managing to scrap my knees and elbows on the edges of the wood as I make my way up. When I get to the top of the ladder I climb through the hole and I kneel on the floor of the treehouse to peer back down but Lochlan is right behind me. There's a few candles, half a case of beer and a blanket spread out nicely, like for a picnic.

This is cool!

Lochlan cracks open a beer but doesn't offer me any. Because he's sixteen and I'm not yet. I know. I think he's in a bad mood though. He sits back on the blanket and pats the space beside him. Come sit.

When is Caleb coming?

Soon. I don't know. Just as he says that Caleb calls Lochlan's name. Lochlan hollers back down the hole that we're up here.

Caleb makes it to the top in record time and then sits down hard. He wavers as he unloads his backpack. More beer. A portable radio. Matches. Candles. I think he's drunk.

What are those things for? I ask him with my ten-year-old curiosity.

Us. So we can have a nice evening. He is drunk. His words are running together and I can't understand him very well. Lochlan frowns as they smash beer cans together. Cheers, brother.

Lochlan rubs my back and acts very territorial. This isn't a first but it's weird.

Did you bring anything for me to drink? I ask Caleb, who stares unsteadily at Lochlan all the while pulling a beer off the stack.

Here you go, Baby.

Lochlan takes it first, opens it and hands it to me reluctantly. I take a sip. It's warm and a little bubbly and not sweet like pop at all. I put it down. I'll just pretend to drink it, I guess.

Caleb finishes his beer in what seems like five seconds. Come here, Bridget.

I listen to him. He's the oldest, at eighteen. I always listen to him. I slide over beside him and he puts his arm around me, pulling me in close. He holds my face up with his free hand and kisses me solidly on the mouth. Then he pours beer into my mouth. Just a little.

Good girl.

I swallow it and sit with a thrilled feeling in my stomach. Caleb is cute and he is the oldest and if he's interested in me instead of Bailey then this. is. magnificent. Everyone loves Bailey. No one has any time for little goofy Bridget.

Speaking of the Devil, I hear a group of people arrive at the treehouse. It's deep in the woods between the lake and Blueberry Mountain. None of the grownups come out here. All of the kids do.

Bailey pokes her head through the floor of the treehouse. Ah. It's occupied I see.

Yeah, we've got some beer.

Shit. We were going to smoke up here.

Come up then, Lochlan seems relieved suddenly that our picnic is ruined. He slides over to my other side and holds my beer, which I go to take from him before realizing he isn't handing it to me.

Are you giving my sister beer? She's ten! Bailey's mad and jealous. She's almost as old as Lochlan. Beer is for the older kids.

No. Don't be silly. She's ten.

Then why is she here?

She wanted to come with us. Caleb lies and Lochlan nods.

I think I'll take her home. Bailey eyes them both suspiciously.

I'm just hanging out, Bay.

Not with these two, you're not, Bridge.

I'll be home by nine.

She stares at Lochlan. He covers easily. We're just having a beer and showing Bridget the treehouse. I'll make sure she gets home by curfew.

You'd better, or else.

Don't worry. You can trust me. Lochlan grins at her so easily I get a weird pang about that too. My stomach hurts now. Great.

She finally looks at me for a long time and then they leave in a big group and it's back to the three of us.

Caleb's eyes and his teeth glitter in the half light. He looks like a wolf in the dark. Finish your beer, Bridget.

I think she's right. I should go.

I'll take you home, Lochlan says quickly while Caleb shakes his head and swears at the sky.

Bye, Caleb.

Bye, Princess. Come again soon! He laughs and tilts his beer up. I'll just go fuck myself I guess.

What?

Nothing, sweetheart.

Lochlan punches him in the arm and then goes around me, halfway through the hole. Back out and climb down the way you climbed up. He has his arms around my legs, making a cage as we go down.

It's on the long walk back to our neighborhood that he tells me he's glad I wanted to leave. I thought he meant so he could be alone with me to talk on the way home.  Which is far cooler than any attention I can beg from Caleb, honestly.

It wasn't until a few years later that Christian told me they bragged that they were taking me up there to mess around but no one took them seriously because of my age and it was soon after that that Lochlan came clean and admitted he didn't really want to but he knew if he wasn't there I would go anyway. Because of Caleb. Because I could never ever leave well enough alone and have put myself in his sights even as he's painted a big target on my back.

Nothing's changed, Lochlan says as he wakes up. I have my arms around him, my head against his chest, and wrapped around my back holding tight is Caleb, who slept hard again last night. He's been here for days. Nights. Things are different since. That night at the treehouse Caleb dodged a bullet that would hit him square in the heart a year later when Lochlan wasn't there to save us all from this future we haven't escaped yet, even as we run as fast as we can.

At least it's no longer wrong to touch me, I tell Lochlan.

Depends on who you ask.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Literally translated, it means Whore's Spaghetti.

I wore the ballet flats.

He noticed but said nothing, and rattled off the menu for dinner to me in short order, handing me a glass of wine as he did, with a smile.

We're having Spaghetti alla puttanesca. Are you hungry?

Starving. He seems to be on his best.

Can you wait a half-hour or should I do up a plate of fruit in the meantime?

I'm fine to wait. Will there be garlic bread?

I have a baguette. Would you like to make some?

Sure. I kick off my shoes, put my wine glass on the island and get to work sawing the bread into slices with the giant serrated knife he keeps in the block. When I'm a third of the way through I wrap the remaining loaf, tuck it into the fridge and pull out the butter dish and minced garlic.

I enjoy cooking with you, Neamhchiontach.

Come over any night of the week. I'm there same time every day.

Except tonight.

Except tonight.

And most of last week.

Did you want to talk about that? You and August are vying for Most Put Out. 

No. No, not really. I just wished you kept in touch while you were gone.

Oh.

A call or something. Just so I can hear your voice. He drinks his wine in one swallow but I heard it. His voice cracked ever so slightly.

For what it's worth, I did miss you.

Then next time, call.

I will.

Let's get the bread in the oven. This took no time at all.

Soon we are eating outside at the little bistro table in the far corner of his patio, jutting out over the cliff. Usually I'd be hesitant to remain here on the frightening part of the cliff but this is my third glass of wine and I have no fear of anything anymore. I always try to front-load my courage for Caleb. Dinner is delicious. Tiny olives pop between my teeth. I eat everything on my plate. So does he.

I rise to clear the dishes.

Sit, Bridget. Not a suggestion, it's a clear order.

I sink back to my seat. He softens.

I'm sorry. Can we just enjoy this? How are you? Not too warm? Too cold?

I'm fine.

You're tense.

No, I'm just...what is it?

I just want to enjoy dinner with you and then I'm afraid I'm going to have to send you home.

Did I do something wrong? Panic builds. I need things. Where are they?

On the contrary. I made some beautiful plans for tonight with you but I'm afraid you'll have to come back another night. I'm very tired. I'll walk you home. He stands and come around to take my chair.  Take the wine with you. He brings the bottle to walk me home. You and Lochlan can have a nightcap.

Once across the drivewat at the door he hands me the bottle of wine and gives me a lingering kiss. I'm sorry if I wasn't able to give you the night you were expecting.

Come in with me. 

As I said-

We'll go to sleep. We can have a nightcap with Lochlan and go to sleep. You said you sleep better with me, this should help. 

Did you ask Loch-

I don't have to, remember? It's in the rules. 

Why are you doing this for me? 

Who said I'm doing it for you? 

Monday, 3 July 2017

In with my already bloodshot eyes.

One of the biggest joys about being in the pool is that I can't hear a thing. I feel the underwater speakers but I can't hear the music and if someone needs me they have to physically get in the water and touch me as I swim endless laps back and forth across the widest part.

Maybe I meant biggest drawback, as instead of reaching out to touch the edge my hand lands on Caleb's chest and he pulls me up against him in the deep end.

Hello, Neamhchiontach. 

Cale. Morning. I smile at him awkwardly. My eyes sting so badly. He doesn't care.

Nice form. He winks.

Thanks. I'm trying to be perfect. (Are we still talking about swimming? I don't think we're talking about swimming. I'm sure not.)

Shall we race? 

No. I would lose. 

No, I think you have a chance. I can always go slow. Or get lost. Or have a cramp. He laughs and his eyes flash. God can drown me now, really it's fine. He's so handsome.

Okay. 

Really? 

He counts down and we're off across the pool. He makes a comical show of doing a poor backstroke, then foundering as if he's unable to swim, and then finally he stops swimming and pretends to walk in slow motion, but he's still really fast and he grabs me, spinning me back toward the deep end, not letting go but reaching out to touch the edge. I win. 

Wow. 

Fair and square. I gave you every opportunity. Something less cheerful flashes across his eyes and we're definitely not talking about swimming any more. All of history is now floating among us, crowding us out, pushing us under.

Tomorrow I get a rematch. 

Of course you do. When we get up. 

When we get up?

Yes, when we get up you can have your rematch. You'll be with me. 

Run it by Loch-

I don't have to do that. His rules. Go get dressed. Wear a pretty slip dress and the pink shoes. We're going out to dinner. 

The pink shoes make me almost as tall as he is. I can't run away in those. I can hardly walk in those. I look like a deer on stilts in those.

I have pink ballet flats-

The heels, Bridget. 

What time do I need to get ready? 

Now, I think. He had you far away for many days straight. I think he can handle one entire twenty-four-hour period without you at all. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Jesus Driver/Cineplex sanctuary.

We might have bailed on church again for the better offer of specialty coffees and Baby Driver at an empty theatre. Don't worry, we brought Sam with us, as Holiday Weekend Church is usually empty too. We brought everybody, actually and holy, what a sleeper of a perfect movie. We've already made plans to go see it again. It's SO good, and you really have no inkling of how good it is from just the trailers. Trust me. Go see it. I was expecting some sort of teenage car-chase sort of fun movie but holy DAMN, it was so much more than that, stylized in a way that made it never stop. Now it's in my top ten favorite movies and I have to figure out which one drops off so it can have space.

That good.

Yes.

Go.

(P.S. When you get home buy the soundtrack.)

Saturday, 1 July 2017

While I patiently wait for someone to trade Miller to the Ducks, you can read this.

Oof. Ben wasn't the only affection- or maybe it's Bridget-starved person here. I've been dodging men, feelings and drama since we landed.

***

Caleb thinks the whole trip was a personal affront. He's challenged Lochlan to wage love on home turf and see who emerges victorious. I can't wait for the jousting at sunrise. For fucks sake. Lochlan, to his credit, reminded Caleb of the umbrella on fire, that he has it covered, thanks, but that a mental and physical getaway is important and Caleb can stuff it.

***

The entire rest of the house thinks Lochlan is throwing up a human shield, himself to be exact, to keep me away from Jay, who's been fresh back a whole week and I've hardly talked to him besides. I tell them they're jumping to conclusions and they remind me that I don't have a man's mind so I wouldn't know.

Ah. Mansplain it to me, Dunk.

No point. 

Gatekeeping, then, is what you're doing. Seriously. 

God, why are you talking like Yoda, Bridge? I think you left your brain on the coast.

Oh, I totally did. I'm fine with that.

***

August thinks I was away too long.

It was three days. 

Four. 

Three nights. 

Right. 

What? 

I worry about you. 

With Lochlan? That's something you need to fix.

But he doesn't get it. Lochlan isn't any sort of threat to anything or anybody. He's been in charge of me since I was in the single-digit ages and I'm still alive, I have perfect manners and I can fend for myself. I'll scream the whole time I'm doing it but I'm capable. But he also hobbled me emotionally and I can't exist without a metric crap-ton of doubled-down weapons-grade affection or I hit a wall and dissolve. Yes. Explain that one. Child- and Teenage-Bridget adores him for it. Adult-Bridget can't even figure out how it all happened, other than imprinting being the best explanation I've ever heard.

Soulmate as a definition is a distant second.

Fate a shadowy third.

***

PJ shoves a list across the counter at me. You're behind. 

I think it's time for you to have a vacation. Also, my chores are supposed to be absorbed by the rest of you if I can't do them. Slackers. 

Yours were. These are new.

Great. 

Hey, you just came back from not having to lift a finger. No sympathy from me. 

I don't know what kind of vacations you take but in my universe it's only a location break. We cooked. We swept constantly to keep sand out of the house-

I thought you had cereal. 

Still have to pour it in a bowl, pour the milk in, dump in a cup of sugar-

I'm glad you're home though. 

Are you? I am too. I missed my guys. 

Me the most though, right? 

Uh. Yeah. Right. You the most.

You're even cute when you lie, Bridge. 

Thank God for that. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Home is where he is.

We're home, back from the refreshing Atlantic breeze, waving grasses, cool (almost to the point of achey) sand, back from my home coast.

Back.

Back to that beautiful little private beach cottage that had no wi-fi and the stove didn't work all that well either so we went and got cereal to eat instead of cooking and every morning we microwaved water for instant coffee. It was simple. It was like the old days.

What are we doing here? 

Making memories. 

What if we have enough? Is there a moratorium on them? Maybe a quota? A limit? 

No, if you get a better one, you're free to discard an older one. 

How do you discard a memory?

You forget it, Peanut. 

Ah. Is that what we're doing with-

Yes.

I don't say anything and he comes over, glancing a kiss off my forehead, turning me face-in against his shirt. My arms hook up over his shoulders as his slide around my back and I instantly untense every single muscle I can count inside my skin.

I listened. I listened hard for his soft lilt over the roar of the tides. I listened to the words as he chose them and I listened while he dumped out the contents of his brain and his heart, mixing them all up together and now we can no longer tell them apart and I think it, no I think he works better this way.

We ventured bravely forth for a swim each day and otherwise picked sand out of the cracks in our elbows (no, I wasn't going to say something else) and our shoes. We walked for miles and miles. We spoke to hardly a soul, save for the person at the counter in the store we went to for food and the cottage owner so she would know about the stove. She returned a large portion of the rental fee Lochlan had made and also had dinner sent over one night from a restaurant nearby.

We lived in bathing suits and sweaters. We slept in the screen porch and we enjoyed a level of privacy we just don't get or want anymore to the point where I began to miss my children and my boys and so did he. Three days was enough, the perfect length for a surprise trip. I again needed next to nothing in my bag which is always a nice surprise but then again we travel incredibly light after so many years of doing it.

And now we are home. Renewed, refreshed and reconnected. We both tackled Ben the moment we saw him, taking him to the ground with affection built up over three days and nights. We missed him something fierce and it was mutual, as told by the look on his face when we walked in. We made good on our promises to the kids to be here for Canada's big day (150!) and we have already been put to work shopping, cleaning and doing meal prep for the weekend. Every now and I then I look at Lochlan and I catch him looking back at me. He smiles a little and my heart tries to jump out and run across the floor.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

See you in a few days.

He's got that smile on his face. The one that says he has a surprise and I see him coming a mile away. Kids are finished school. 

Yes. Finally! 

We should take a little trip now that the dust has settled.

If we did where would we go? 

Back to Montauk. Maybe. If you're game.

Seriously? 

I might have booked our same little cottage for an early anniversary celebration. 

Who are we taking? 

Each other. 

Sold. 

You need to sort out the sunscreen thing first. 

Okay, a big floppy hat and a sweater. It worked last time. 

That it did. Better go pack. Plane leaves in four hours. 

What? Holy. Hold my plate. 


Take it with you and eat while you pack. We don't need to bring much. 

True. 

Bring a smile, Peanut. And that sweater. 

I can do that. 

You wanted a cold beach, I can give you a cold beach.

Monday, 26 June 2017

You'll know where to find me now.

(Yesterday was a big mistake, by the way. I did a metric ton of gardening early in the morning thinking I'd be safe and gave myself heatstroke and turned into a baby because of it. Things are much better after eight hours sleep. That's like a new record for me.)

Ben put up two extra six-by-sixes when no one was looking, down by the trees in the shade off the patio and strung up my beautiful hammock that I had nowhere to properly hang here. He knew I'd love it and I do. The pool area itself is now complete in phase two, with a wraparound outdoor kitchen with space for a bigger barbecue (that we don't have yet but measured for), a small fridge (whoops don't have that either), a wood burning firepit/cookout stove, and a shadier pool deck overall, with space above the pergola where I can drape my tapestries and make it look very neat. There is only one phase left to go and that's to augment the path to the pool from the house to string everything together, and landscape around the sauna and the back of the house a little better. I wanted to pave a path all the way to my house but that isn't a good idea if we want to keep the properties futureproof, to be sold separately when the time comes.

Unless we sell all three or even two houses as a package deal for searching communes. I mean, we could do that.

None of this is something we're planning either way, as we stay until Henry finishes university, so that's at least six years, maybe more. (Did I tell you I now have a university student and a student in grade eleven now? I didn't but I do and I'm so proud).

Then we'll see.

I love the hammock. And I love that today is cool enough to head out and enjoy it with my book and some lemonade and a whole pile of new sunscreen that sucks. Every single one I have tried is awful. They either give me rashes or sunburns. Christ. Any suggestions?

Sunday, 25 June 2017

HOTTER STILL.

Because I am a terrible human and furthermore very bad at life, Ben filled the soaker tub in our ensuite with ice water and put me in it early on. Lochlan brought me up a glass of champagne in the one beautiful blue glass flute I own (it was a set but they break so easily) and Ben winced slightly but cheers'd me and then sat on the floor beside the tub while I alternated between sipping my champagne quietly like a good princess and screaming because things were cold. Private things. Sensitive things.

I then got a warm shower for my promises of gold and riches to him, should he release me from this curse and we spent the day again inside, as he has paid his dues on the latest home improvement project and decided it was time for Jay and Keith to pay theirs.

Lochlan came back after supervising the completion of said task (I'll see it tomorrow) with a sunburn and a cold light beer which made him wince after every sip. I ran out of champagne but wasn't given any more and I fell asleep while they watched a movie. The ceiling fan went around and around and eventually I woke up and the sun had moved all the way around to the other side of the room and was almost over and the room was empty, save for me and I didn't mind a bit, I swear.

Tomorrow it's supposed to be a full ten degrees cooler and then I will feel like myself. I hope.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

HOT.

It's thirty-seven degrees in the sun and they're working on building a second outdoor shower and a pergola that extends over part of the pool deck. I don't know if pouring concrete at that temperature is any different than wading in the lava of an active volcano but they seem happy enough to plant six-by-six posts so deep into the ground they're never ever going to move and fire up the table saw so many times I began to hate the noise and went downstairs to watch movies with Dalton.

I ran out of pool time anyway and lazing about in the shade trying to breathe in that liquid hot exhaust wasn't that pleasant. I'm a spring and fall girl. I like my water warm and my sand cold. I like jeans on the beach and sweaters on the boat and I hate being warm.

I couldn't even stand to keep on earrings. I'm down to a t-shirt and short thin cotton shorts. No bra, no underwear. No plans to be in mixed company as we're having ice cubes for dinner and at some point if the temperature drops down to reasonable I'll come back upstairs and go to bed.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Filthy souls.

The rules are plentiful. Jay will take back his old room, his old space in Batman's garage, his old life but working for Sam, working for the church. Batman will keep a closer eye on him, as will Asher, Lochlan, PJ and Ben. Ben's going to sponsor him if he still turns out to need it (FUUUUCK) and we're getting him some hardcore health counselling because he still plays fast and loose with his disease and he can't afford to. He's going to get his health under control so he doesn't die. I'm not sure if he's trying to or what here and it hurts.

He is stiff and reluctant and ashamed.

Why do you care? He had the nerve to ask Ben and Ben pointed out that he's family, we look after each other. Jay choked up and hugged him hard and Ben asked him why he didn't ask for help.

I thought it would be better if I just left. 

Ben nods. You'll need to talk to him. 

Schuyler. One of the few adamant about not having New-Jake come back, more as a nod towards being better safe than sorry, as always. Schuyler doesn't walk the talk, he's just very protective of me and I always appreciated that. His boundaries are ironclad, his values carved in the rock at our feet. He's big on love but he doubled down on Jay because after seven years, poor Jay is still the new guy and that's not going to change, ever.

There's always a new Jake. Always a guy coming in to my life in bare feet with an easy smile and a past a mile wide. Always an unexplainable draw that I drown in the sea on a daily basis because I'm trying to do right by Schuyler and own up to my boundaries.

I usually mess up and drown the boundaries and enforce the cravings, Batman tells me but it's not like he's objective, either.

Schuyler tried to put me first and while I appreciate the sentiment, I have a great support network. Jay didn't, where he went. He does again now though.

Welcome home, Jay. This time don't fuck it up.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Home.

What's new, Bridge? 

Jay is a mess. He covered well and yet here he is, the perennial project boy, back for a complete teardown and redo. Except this time we're not going to flip him and send him back out into the world. No, this time we're keeping him. 

And his bike, because it's beautiful too. 

I changed my last name. 

To what? 

I frown at him. Weirdo. Loch's. 

Oh. Yeah, I suppose. Caleb like that? He laughs. 

He was against it. He's adjusting now. 

Don't let him be your drummer, baby. 

Let's talk about you. Because I didn't want to deal with this on the phone. 

How much free time do you have and how much are you willing to hear? 

I should make some tea? 

And maybe have Sam on standby. 

I can do that. 

Can I help? 

Of course. You're part of the family. 

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Reintroductions.

The best laid plans never happen.

It was after the actual solstice, after darkness fell and the sun went to bed that we went out and had a simple swim in only our birthday suits. Just Lochlan and I as everyone else wound up thankfully preoccupied with their hurt feelings and tense disregard after a brutal family meeting in which nothing was resolved whatsoever. It happens and when it does the best course of action is to leave it before we make things worse, walk away and come back when a little time and cooler heads prevail.

New-Jake is coming back. Hereafter to be known as Jay, because I can't get that k sound to come out when I say it out loud, still.

Lochlan puts his arms around me, holding me up and in from the cold water.

I don't want him to come back but I was him once and I believe in fresh starts, second chances and all that mumbo-jumbo but so help me, Peanut, if you get too close I'm drowning him.

I nod. My boundaries are well established exploited. We'll be fine.

We go back to the side of the pool where our champagne awaits.

To summer, Lochlan says, raising his glass.

To summer. I nod and drink half of it. The bubbles go up my nose along with a good amount of chlorinated water and I cough briefly. It's enough for Lochlan to decide that we should go in now, that it's late even though I had a perfectly timed coffee earlier and I bit my tongue through the whole meeting and now I'm wound up tight like a spring and need to unwind. He wraps himself in a towel and goes around the pool blowing out the candles we lit. Then he stands waiting.

I don't want to go in yet, Locket.

Why, Baby? 

This is nice. 

What if we went in and had a hot bath? 

I stare at him while I push off repeatedly from the side without letting go. It feels nice on my very very sore elbow. I stare at him until I realize he's not the bad guy here, that he is the one who recalled New Jake even though he was the last one to become friends with him, and he was the one who defended him when everyone else said to leave well enough alone. It was those words that changed an entire army's direction.

The Collective saved my life once. The least I can do is pass it on. 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Two lights and a super-heavy.

Summer solstice is tonight! I'm so excited! We have big plans but I won't share them today. Tomorrow I'll tell you all about it if I ever get up after being up very late. I complain when Lochlan infantilizes me but at the same time anything scheduled after nine at night has me aghast that people actually are gearing up just as I'm usually checking out.

Not like I don't check out at eleven in the morning or two-thirty in the afternoon if I stop moving, I know. But we have Large Plans and I'm very much looking forward to it.

In other news the lipstick wars continue. Ben said enough was enough and went and put some on, and proceeded to walk around the house hugging everyone, and then planting a huge surprise kiss on their cheeks and it took forever for them to notice. It was mostly hilarious though Henry didn't like it much and Ruth went running, screaming that she just washed her face and didn't want to get anything on it. Then she laughed and got kissed anyway. She doesn't mind Ben's antics. No one does. He's dodged another tour bullet and picked up another producing gig which if I'm correct in my hunches are being funnelled directly through Schuyler but that's okay. Our network is super-tight anyway. They all work for each other half the time anyway.

Case in point, Asher took a vacation this week. A last-minute week-long getaway, Batman said. Not far, he said.

How far? I asked suspiciously, eyes narrowed.

Ontario. Batman is vague.

Toronto?

Yes, I believe, he lies.

What's wrong with Jake? The panic is approaching me like a stormfront. I see it but I can't run.

He had a little setback. He'll be fine. 

He's not fine. He's a diabetic-

Bridget, Asher will let me know what's going on as soon as he gets to Jake. 

So it's enough of an emergency to send your assistant but not enough to tell his friends that he's in trouble. 

Wait until I have word. Batman's so done with my panic.

Fuck that, I tell him. I pick up my phone to call the Devil. He can get me a plane.

Batman takes the phone and hangs it up, putting it in his pocket. I turn to go and he grabs my arm and my elbow pops right out of location and I'm on my knees.

It hurt so bad I couldn't speak and so he tries to haul me back up to my feet because he had no idea what was wrong. Mercifully, my body knew what was up and blacked me out.

When I opened my eyes I screamed because the pain was still going. PJ leaned over my face. Lochlan too.

My elbow's out DON'T TOUCH IT. 

So PJ tells me to count to three and Lochlan holds on tight and before we even start one they nod and pop it back into place with a thud that almost kills me. I roll into a ball. So sore. Oh my God. I need to go to the airport, I tell Lochlan. He's already talking to Batman and I know he's going to compartmentalize his anger until he gets everything covered.

Bring him back here permanently. We'll sort him out. Then I'm going to sort YOU out.

Batman nods and goes to call Asher. Looks like the trip has doubled, as they'll have to pack up Jake's less than three months'-long life in the hot potato to return here permanently, a semi-pariah with a mad crush, a beautiful vintage Sunbeam motorcycle and a terrible knack for letting his blood sugar control him instead of the other way around.

We'll live with it. I don't care. Sometimes people belong here and they shouldn't leave, even if they have a magnificently rough start, like New-Jake has had.

Doesn't matter. He's meant to be here. He's one of us.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Not an ad but it they want to send me lipstick I'm all for it.

I bought a new lipstick over the weekend that I adore. It's by Bite Beauty and it's called Beetroot and while it looked terrible in Sephora and terrible on the swatch that I did on the back of my hand with the tester, I brought it home and it looks amazing on my face. It's a dark purpley-red and just makes my former black-lipstick-wearing self happy. I have a lot of reds, all blue-reds but this is dramatic and awesome. 

It also doesn't hurt that it comes off on everything I touch while somehow staying put on my lips. Sneeze? Left a print on the elbow of my sweater. Hair blew in my face? Now my blonde is purpley-red. Kissed a boy? Yup, ALL OVER EVERYONE. 

I won't even mention it's on almost every mug in the house. It's on my phone screen. On the fork in the sink and on Sam's shirt after he gave me a quick hug as he was leaving and I was too horrified to tell him but then he put on his blazer anyway so now I didn't have to. It's on the window beside the front door. It's on the Devil and it's on the dog. It's on Lochlan in more than half a dozen different places and he loves it (Shhhhh).

Jesus Christ, you can't take me anywhere, or better still, you can't leave me home.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Dip her in the water and she's good to go again.

Oof. Today was a whirlwind of church services, impromptu baptisms, Father's Day shenanigans, rain and charges met with hugs, because everyone's so busy trying to be the bigger man here sometimes they don't even realize how proud I am of all of them. Caleb made amends with everyone, somehow softened by my admission that he tried to send me home and somehow hastened by the glaring proof standing in front of them that oops, he gave me exactly what I wanted and they would have happily done the same.

Nice, isn't it?

I have thanked each and every one of them for being incredible surrogate-dads and sometimes-lovers and anyone I missed, hopeful or not, has been gracious enough to let me fall on my face. Sam tries to save my soul every chance he gets and Caleb holds it high in his hands, just out of reach. The ocean purified my body and my mind and Lochlan apologized profusely for sending me reeling out the door, unable to process how we can love each other and still fight like we mean it. He's the one who taught me to fight, taught me how to stand my ground, taught me if it's worth having, it's worth knowing when to stand up and when to let go, and he also taught me the power in forgiving those you love when they (and you) need it most.

Yes, in other words, he's still really fucking mad. But not as mad as he was when I left. So that's good.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

I thank you for the hole you dug in me
Filled it with cement, sunk me in your sea
Thank you for being so obscene
I thank you for never facing me
Swimming in the mud, never coming clean
I thank you for nothing in between
Yes, I thank you for leaving
It took him upwards of forty minutes to finish his work and by then I was fighting to stay awake, having given up on the drink he poured which burned down my throat, melting all the ice, leaving a ring on the table.

He sat down and pulled me into his lap. I put my head down on his shoulder as his arms went around me, closing my eyes, putting my hands up against his shirt. I felt his arms tighten as he stood up, bringing me with him and I locked my legs over his hips best I could. I thought maybe he would toss me on his bed so I could sleep and then he'd be able to play the hero, the safe place to fall. The good guy.

But no.

Instead after throwing me down on his bed he pulls my hands behind my back. It's a fight that is over quickly. He turns me over and smiles, yanking my dress up and my whole body down hard against him before pulling me up back into his lap, releasing my hands so I can hold on to him. He likes to set the tone early. He picks me up, the cold wall meeting my back as he pushes me against it, pinning me up with nothing to hold on to except for him. The way he likes it. The way I hate it because it hurts more than it helps.

Stop making noise. He orders.

I am silent.

Arms around my neck. Another order and I comply.

Don't cry. (Can't help this one.)

Don't push back. Relax your hips. (trying. Can't manage. It's a pain reaction and I can't talk myself out of it.)

Bite, Bridget. And I do, latching on to his flesh just at the hardest point of his shoulder where it won't do any damage. It's like biting concrete, teeth gnashing against gravestones. I could feel them grind and chip as I bit down hard agains the past. I want to swallow it whole but I have to chew it, choke it down as I remember who is boss.

I am.

I beg, they fulfill. Power begets those broken teeth and aching limbs, newly reinstated stranger-souls and the abject disappointment of an entire army as I bring back the lone dissenter and smile at them all with those broken teeth, a mouth full of marbles in a world where I've never had trouble being understood. I can't hear myself. They can hear me just fine.

Look at him, I cry. Look at him! I yell mutely, my muffled plea arousing a reaction as they look on with wild disinterest. They don't hear me though, they only see the fresh strangers, the light of change bearing down on them like a fossor with a newly sharpened shovel. I don't even feel it when it halves my skull. If I can't complain they can't either.

When the sun comes up around five, he wakes me gently. Go home and make up with your Pyro, he says, as if I am being sweetly discarded. He returns to his philanthropic state, his work here finished, his masterpiece a ruined mess with nary a mark. His self-control intact, his reputation solidified once again to be careful what I wish for, always. Everyone gets exactly what they want, even if they don't know exactly what that is.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Shoulders on offer.

The argument was pointless. Needless even and yet it's like it was a test. If you knew me you'd know that I'll always call your bluff. I'd rather be stubborn than wrong. I'd rather just let you feel like shit, frankly, and then you'd know not to say such awful things.

Go over then! I'm sure you'll get a warm welcome. Get those broad shoulders all to yourself. 

Fine. It'll be nice to have a night off from trying to live up to your perfectionism!

Actually it just means you fall one more day behind in achieving it! 

Good! I think I'll stay for two days and then you'll hardly be able to stand me! 

I can't NOW! The minute he said it the regret took over his whole face. Bridget! Peanut, come back. I didn't mean it. You get me all up in arms-

It's fine. I'll see you later. 

Stay here-

No, sorry. I'll be back later. I won't stay there. 

Don't go, Bridge. Please.

But I left. 

I knocked on the door. One low light on in the kitchen and I could hear music. 

He came to the door and unlocked it. His face lit up when he saw me. Bridget! Wait, what's wrong? 

I had a fight with Lochlan. 

Would you like me to call him and have him come over so you can work it out? 

I didn't expect that. No, we'll be okay. Tears leak out anyway because the whole thing makes me sad. 

You will. Come in and have a drink then. 

I don't want to interrupt your evening.

Give me ten minutes to finish up with the paperwork I had out (forever the lawyer) and then we'll talk.

Con arts.

Not gonna lie, I had a nice day by the pool today. It was breezy and sunshiney in an early-fall kind of way but the most striking thing was realizing, during an impromptu, trash-talking throwdown of a four-lap butterfly race, that Caleb's shoulders are at least a full third wider than Duncan's. But I wasn't looking, I swear.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Love you forever.

It's cold, isn't it, Bridge? You warm enough?

I nod. I'm wrapped in a blanket by the fireplace in our bedroom. Four of the smallest lanterns are lit and the fireplace is the only light besides. He's poured us some champagne but as per tradition they're in little jam jar-style cups because that was what we had for special occasions.

We clink the cups together. SlĂ inte. I smile and take a tiny sip. He drinks his in one go and pours another. Finally, you are mine. 

I was yours from the very start. 

Officially, I mean. 

The wedding doesn't count? 

Not really, no. 

I see. 

This is outward. Obvious. 

My tattoos don't count? 

No, Bridget. Like I said, this is the big one. The one I was waiting for. Hoping for even. It's like Christmas in June. 

Juneuary, you mean. I am cold. 

Jesus, why didn't you say something! He takes our full glasses and puts them on the hearth and pulls me in closer to him. Skin to skin. He is so warm I feel instantly feverish in proximity. I get a kiss that would melt steel and then he swears into my mouth, picking me up, dropping me down on my back on the floor, putting his weight on me as he whispers things I can't hear, as his hands travel over every inch of my skin, as he ends with my new name, as if no one has heard it before, nevermind the dozens of times he caught me talking to myself in the mirror, introducing myself at the tender age of ten as Bridget MacIntosh and he'd laugh and promise that I could, as soon as we can. And he'd smile like everything is right with the world. It mostly is as far as he is concerned and he doesn't seem to mind that his bride with the new name is dragging some larger than life ghosts and a demon or two behind her. He seems like he has room for everything.

Warm now? 

I nod again. Very warm now. Holy.

He pulls me back up to a sitting position after, tucking me in under his arm, pulling the blanket tight around us. The fire is too big and he lets it go down a bit. We've made our own warmth, made our own climate here. We finish our champagne. It's bad luck if you don't.

Ready for sleep?

I nod, staring at the flames. Don't pinch me. This moment is as perfect as a moment can be.

I love you. I blurt it out like it's an emergency. It is. My heart wants to explode right now and I don't think it's ever felt like this. It feels everything so deeply but not like this. Not. like. this.

I love you, Bridget, he says as he scoops me to my feet. He takes a minute and just stares at me with a smile. His hair is a soft loopy halo around his whole face. He's beautiful.  

I get one more kiss and then I'm out like a light. I didn't even wake up once.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Ambush hour. Fuck this rain.

I feel as if all of this espresso has finally eaten right through my stomach and everything that was inside it fell out through the hole and rolled away, save for this endless, gnawing fear. 

The fear that keeps me carrying around a Xanax in one tightly-rolled fist (not to be taken because maybe it's actually a Klonopin and I don't want one of those. They take too long.) The very same fear that finds me forgetting to breathe until I have a headache and then I don't want to do anything save for sleep. 

What is the fear of? Sam asks again. He always asks as if this is a fresh question or better yet, one that might have an answer. 

I shrug. 

Does August know?

I nod. 

Why do you think he knows and we don't? 

He is singular in his separation from the Collective. 

Does Lochlan know? 

I think he does but he won't admit it. 

Why not? 

Because if he says it out loud then it's true and I am crazy after all. 

And why wouldn't he say that out loud?

Because then there's a problem. 

But there is help for that problem. 

He would rather fun it away. 

I'm sorry?

Fun it away. Forget about it for now. Distract. Let it go. 

But?

But it doesn't go. I can push it under the water but it floats back up almost right away. 

Is there a time when it didn't come back up right away? 

Yes. 

Will you tell me when? 

When I'm in someone's arms. 

Someone specific? 

I cover my face. No. Well, maybe. Lochlan. But it goes away for August, Joel and Ben too. 

Joel. 

Yes, Joel. You want honest, here it is. It sucks, doesn't it? 

How does that make you feel?

You want to know why it doesn't go away for you. I can tell. 

If you want to share anything, go ahead, Bridget. 

I don't. This is your barometer. I didn't want to come in. 

It's raining. 

And so you thought it would be a good time to pick apart my mind? 

Doesn't hurt. 

Everything hurts, Sam. That's why we're here. 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Mrs. Mac, for short.

When I woke up and looked out the window in the stairwell Matt and Sam were by the pool, drinking coffee and eating what appeared to be chocolate croissants, sharing a newspaper, smiling at each other as if everything is right with the world again.

Maybe it is, because for a brief moment I thought we had chocolate croissants in the house. We don't because Matt brought two. TWO.

Be right back. Heading out to flatten some tires.

***

Lochlan wasn't happy that Schuyler put himself in harms way. He wasn't happy that Caleb showed up again with a bone to pick. He wasn't happy about anything and he made the rounds before coming at last to me and he wasn't happy with me either, it seems, though I listened to his instructions and haven't gone near the Devil, who, incredibly enough is really fucking angry that I went ahead and changed my name after digging in my heels for the best part of a decade since and he thought he was safe.

Yeah, so did I, once.

In any case, nice to meet you. I'm now sporting a name that's synonymous with Scottish raincoats, English toffee, American computers and one really stupidly good-looking redhead and now I'm less Irish but more of a blend and that's okay. MacIntosh is a good solid name and he is very proud that I have it now. Very proud. Kind of ego-peacock-Lochlan proud which worries me and is getting a bit annoying but hey, I signed up for this. Literally. My new license arrived and there's no going back now.

And Caleb has the nerve to say this morning that I had his last name for over thirteen years (via my marriage to Cole) so Lochlan still has to beat that. I swear Caleb has a death wish sometimes. Only it's for me instead of himself. I hope I get a croissant before he crosses that line. I'm really hungry now.

Monday, 12 June 2017

This is what frenemies means, I think.

Ben came to collect me, sharing a long brotherly hug with both his brother and with Schuyler, who continues to suffer no fools and has taken up some sort of impenetrable fortress of one in front of me. 

I don't want to see anyone get hurt, is all Schuyler said by way of explanation. He's all for people having fun. He's had some of the most fun before he grew up and settled down. What he isn't for is watching someone get hurt at the expense of someone else's fun. 

It's complicated, I shrug. 

Don't defend your devils, he reminds me before he softens his rebuke with a smile and a wink. Besides, you were like having a small human-shaped hot water bottle in bed. I don't think I can do that again now that it's warm out. 

Daniel likes it. 

I got this. He winks again and I smile back. 

I know you do. 

Go home to your redhead. 

Yeah well, stop making him pull all-nighters fixing shit. 

Doing my best. He could have said no. 

Not for that sort of stipend. 

Well, I had to make sure it was worth leaving you for. 

Wow. I guess he has a price. 

That's not what I meant. 

I know, silly. 

He went because he knew you were safe. 

No one's going to hurt me, Schuy. You worry too much. 

They don't worry enough. 

Who are you worried about? 

There's a few. 

Name names. 

The obvious. 

Right. Who else? 

Let me worry about that. You just keep your childlike innocence going. It suits you. You love everybody, Bridget. And they all love you back. What could go wrong?

I looked back to see if he was joking with me, if he was smiling but his face was hard and grim before he checked it and smiled again. It didn't reach his eyes this time. And it didn't reach his eyes a few hours later when he had to knock Caleb on his ass after being charged just outside the front door. For fucks sakes. Ben took a turn collecting Schuyler this time instead of me, getting yet another hug though it was to hold him back. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Mind.

An eleventh-hour offering kept me from the hands of the Devil, instead given over the likes of Daniel and Schuyler, where I hung from the night by my fingertips until my arms ached and my shoulders went numb. My eyes bore witness to true love, uncensored and unabashed and my hands reached out to touch but were left cold, contact made with nothing but air, as if the dark were a mirage, an oasis in a daylight desert.

Reassurance blanketed me and I was warm. He wants to keep you safe, Bridge. He's just doing what's best. 

I nod and my eyes grow heavy from bearing witness for so long.

Sleep, Princess. We'll have you back safe and sound tomorrow. My lashes flutter closed, the last thing they see being Daniel's sweet face as he chose my right side for sentry while Schuyler chose my left. They made a Bridget-sandwich and no one went hungry except for my demon but I didn't know a thing about that until it was too late to fix it anyway.