Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The work in progress.

(When the going gets tough, everything becomes a metaphor. And I'm not dead but thanks for asking. Keith (!) blocked the driveway and I never got very far in the end. I just didn't feel like writing about it.)

***

This is hard, Peanut. It's hard to look forward because you have to look behind you to see if anything's coming.

No you don't. Quick shoulder check. That's enough. I turn his face back so he's looking through the windshield. It's fine to peek in the mirrors but that's all. We're not looking back. We're never going back.

It should have all been in flames but after so long even the fire dies down. It hasn't gone out, it's just gone quiet, turning a raging path of destruction into a singular line of ash that divides the past from the present. A clear delineation of the future, as it were. If we ever get there. Hey, take a breath. There you are.

Does that mean we're safe? 

Not by a long shot. That's why we keep driving. Eventually we'll get there. Soon. Maybe when you wake up. 

Maybe in the morning. 

Have heart.

I do.

I know you do.

***

Two days of meetings, all told and the consensus is yes, they're all in love with me, but by varying degree. Some are protective, others brotherly. A couple are downright carnal, and some are so far in denial you can shine a light up their ass and it glows in their ears (not my phrase, can you even guess). Some are apologetic, even confessional to admit they fell when they should have been watching.

The issue is how to keep the fine balance balanced. How to keep the Collective working when I keep upending everyone's steady hearts with my presence and Lochlan keeps changing the rules. These rules are the balance, meant to keep things safe and protected and as healthy as we can under the circumstances. The rules are few and far between as they try to let me exist with what I need in spite of what's wrong with me, in spite of their own feelings, in spite of the past.

I don't know if it can be done, Claus says. He's not our champion, he's the Devil's Advocate. He believes, as we all do that this is unsustainable but necessary now. That this can't work but it's working so no one should fuck with it. That this is going to result in a gradual carnage, which has been happening all along, we just try not to think about it.

Not too much anyway.

Monday, 16 October 2017

12:19 pm

Four hours and they're still in there. Claus came out for a little break with Lochlan. I got some hugs. Caleb, August and Sam never came out. On their way back in they asked if I could send in PJ and Duncan and Christian. Batman too. Now it's a family meeting without me.

Then they asked if I could order some lunch for everyone.

So I took Caleb's keys for the new Audi and I think I'll take myself out to lunch. They'll figure it out.

Flying on standby.

When the doorbell rang I was surprised but hopeful. Maybe someone has sent flowers. Or breakfast. Maybe I forgot to unlock the side door and Caleb has resorted to the bell. Maybe this is the purge. Who knows? I opened the door mid-sip of my coffee and there's Claus.

Behind him, Joel. 

Well, fuck me and also hurray. The people with actual capes have arrived, because all of those they left in charge finally caved in to me, and it's not going well at all. It's not what we need heading into Halloween, and Jacob's death day, and then his birthday, no, that's not what we need at all. 

Good morning, Bridget. Claus smiles hesitantly, kindly. He speaks to me as if I am a small child. I hold the door wide without a word, and he takes the first step with his cane. Claus is too old for this shit. Too old for emergency housecalls and bullshit games and counsel-liars. Just the girl I wanted to see. 

I'll make more coffee. 

That's a good idea. I shoot Joel a look and he frowns at me and asks where Sam is. 

Sleeping. 

Could you wake him as well, please? And maybe give August a call? Oh, and we're going to need Lochlan. He's paramount to this discussion.

Sure thing. 

I make a move to follow them into the library but Joel blocks my entrance. We'll call for you in a little while. If you could direct them here that would be great. 

I nod, and turn to head back to the kitchen, and smash hard into Caleb, who was right behind me. He doesn't smile, or say good morning. He touches my cheek, follows Joel inside and shuts the door.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

But first, God.

I was going to call it Hypocrite Sunday, as I woke up this morning half-wrapped around Sam, who was brought to me in the dark so late I couldn't wake up enough to say no and and he couldn't wind down enough to listen. He is rough and wild, wide awake and absolutely unyielding. I think they think if they're brutal and selfish that I won't fall in love with them so everything's going to be okay. I wish I could make them understand that isn't how this works.

And Lochlan leaves us alone. I don't know why. Hypocrites come in pairs, maybe. Maybe he thinks as long as Sam lies about how he feels that this is a great compromise. Sam can't be a risk, God is his first and only true love, right? 

What? 

Sam was too rough. He didn't listen. He went so far as to shake me awake when he let go for five seconds so I could breathe and I couldn't stay alert. I felt drugged. I felt betrayed. When Lochlan came back I called him names under my breath in a language I barely know but he would have understood all too well. He put his arms around me and told me he was trying, best he could, to fulfill all of my needs without breaking his own heart in the process.

Too late, I said but he didn't listen either and I'm so tired I want to throw up.

In church Sam spoke again of brotherhood and sharing the most intimate moments of your life with people you love and trust, people who share your faith, and your hope and His Word. I look at the boys as they nod along with the cadence of Sam's voice, fire and brimstone softened to sparks and shale. They're all hypocrites and yet I love them with an ache that brings me to my knees.

His eyes come to rest on me and I watch the familiar twinkle that I used to see when Jacob's eyes would land on me and he would see that I was listening to every word. Except I used to twinkle back at Jake. With Sam I just looked away.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A breakfast, a lecture, a rescue.

Potato, Potah-to. He calls it a 'talk'. Except all he did was talk at me for one hundred and twelve minutes while I made butternauts and refused to answer any questions I did catch for the first three-quarters of our meal. Self-preservation, as Eggs Benedict with salmon and fresh melon should be eaten in only the most positive of settings and by the end of the breakfast I was forced to take my coffee cup to the bar for refills because he kept sending the servers away.

(At least he tips well, though I could use a tip on very pale people with sensitive skin and red eyes from threatening tears. Big sunglasses look a little ridiculous indoors, on a rainy day. How are you all doing this? I'm not tough enough to not react. I'm not tough at all.)

Not like he gave me a chance to pull myself together as it was. The message was there when I woke up to meet him, dressed to go to breakfast. I did, walking to his glassed-in porch around eight, and he took my arm and marched me to his car, and then we drove in silence, he ordered curtly (knows what I like, at least) and then waited for what seemed like an eternity for the food. In reality it was around fifteen or twenty minutes but try doing that without talking.

Once the food arrived, Batman started talking. He talked while he ate and he never. let. up.

Maybe the Collective isn't working. Really is anything different? August needs to be sent home for good. So does anyone who wants a chance at a normal life. Who am I to keep everyone here at my beck and call-

Wait a minute. What? I have to interrupt. They chose this life-

I'm here, I see how their choices are-

Yes, you're here. What's your excuse? 

I'm not interested in starting a family. I was married before. I've lived. Some of them haven't. 

They're all adults. 

Oh come on, Bridget. They're hypnotized. They're brainwashed. 

I didn't do that. 

This is what I'm telling you. Yes. You did. You did that. You made them that way. 

I stop listening at that point. I haven't done anything wrong. And what he's describing is some kind of selfish criminal mastermind, out collecting souls because she didn't have one of her own. Jesus. Is that what I am? Oh Jesus. I can't swallow this bite of food. I can't hang on to my composure anymore. I can't be here. I don't want to do this.

Coffee? 

Leave us. 

The server is sent away just as I lift my cup and I turn my gaze back to Batman. Abruptly I realize he wanted a sounding board to unload all of his own jealousy, wrapped in the most ridiculous discourse of blame and tragedy and that this isn't my cross to bear and I don't need to sit through it.

I tell him I'm going to find the washroom and get some coffee, that I need a moment. I dab at the corner of my eye with a napkin so he has a little sympathy. He nods, softening somewhat, sitting up and fixing his tie.

I leave my cup on the bar, asking for a refill, telling them I'll be right back or they can take it to the table for me and I head down the hall.

Once inside I pull out my phone and wonder who the heck I can call for a drive home. Who's going to be on my side at this point?

Ben.

Except Ben's phone lives on the dresser perpetually because he forgets to take it everywhere.

Daniel it is. He says he'll leave right now, to meet him outside.

I wait as long as I can and go back out. Batman is sitting straight up. His face is ashen. My coffee is full but lukewarm and I hesitate beside the chair for several seconds before sitting down.

He holds up his hand and a server practically sprints over with a coffee pot and a new cup. The coffee is now too hot to drink, the old cup is removed carefully. This right here is a metaphor for my relationships. Ice-cold, removed or too attentive, too hot. Too immediate.

Happy mediums? Not this girl. Never ever ever.

Who's coming to get you? 

I sip my coffee. Pardon?

Which one did you contact to come and pick you up? 

Daniel. 

You can't escape this, Bridget. That's the funny part. 

No, see, the funny part is that you think this is my fault. You all came to me. I didn't ask for a thing. I still haven't asked for a thing or everything would be different. I didn't do this. You did. You all did, and blaming me is a real shit move after all this time. 

I open my purse and fish out a few bills, throw them on the table and tell him to have a good afternoon. That I hope he got everything off his chest. That maybe he should book a time with Sam or with August if he wants to really dig deep and self-improve.

Then I walk outside, head high, just as Daniel is pulling into a loading zone.

Hey. 

Hey. Didn't have time to put on a cape. Sorry.

I don't need any more heroes. Just friends. 

Then I've got you covered. He winks and waits for me to put on my seatbelt. Then we're on our way home.

Friday, 13 October 2017

TICKETS PROCURED.

Guess who's going to see er...Avenged Sevenfold for the second time in seventh months?

Nah, I'm not going for them, silly.

I'm fulfilling a fifteen-year wait to see Breaking Benjamin (!!!!) and I'm so excited about that I could burst. I still remember holding my blackberry up to my old HP laptop when some internet radio site played I Will Not Bow. Ben was in the dining room laughing with the kids and I was sitting at the kitchen table under the dim lights and I recorded it when it debuted online because I couldn't actually hear it over their laughter. It was snowing and freezing cold that night. What a weirdly vivid memory.

I have a BB lyric tattoo (from Rain). I have a son who wants to see them too (Go Henry! Who hasn't seen a live show with us since Robert Plant. Or maybe it was Stone Temple Pilots. Wait. I just checked the master list I keep. It was Rush. The kid's seen more shows than most people).  I have a musical bucket list that's just about complete and we have tickets now for a night in February. I'm excited. You have no idea. Besides, this band taught me the word for what I was doing with their very first hit single: Polyamorous. 

Booyah! *Runs around pool again.*

Snort.

(My favorite song of theirs is still Breath though. Always and forever.)

Thursday, 12 October 2017

This too.

I get it. If I keep my mouth shut like Sam and PJ do, I get access. At least I'm still permitted to talk to you. Meetings move to your library. Same times. xx

That was the message I woke up to on my phone from August. Lochlan went to see him last night but came home and didn't say much, preferring to wake me up and wind me out instead. I bit down into his shoulder as he gripped my hips against his own, keeping me so close to him I almost tapped out for not being able to breathe but I stuck it out instead. Then he abruptly lets go of me, practically shoving me down as I fall anyway and I sit up and shove him back and he kisses me so hard I think he cracked my teeth. He grabs my face with both hands and tells me he loves me. Then he's gone and I hear the shower turn on a few minutes later. The sun is coming up around the edges of the dark and from out of nowhere Ben says Jesus, you two should be putting out videos. 

People have seen enough. I'm still angry from the arguments of the past couple of days. Still touchy about August. Still smarting from Lochlan's attempts to rule with an iron cock.

Thought you loved his rage fucks. 

I do. 

Then relax. He's just having a moment. It will pass. Usually takes a week or so. You always think Caleb is the possessive one. They're a lot alike, Bridge. 

Don't I know that already. I close my eyes and turn away and I hear Ben leave and then a little while later Lochlan comes back. When I turn over he's buttoning a flannel shirt over a plain white t-shirt.

You're not banned from August. You can see him here in the house for meetings. Just nothing else for now. 

I heard. He sent a text. 

He's good with that? 

Did you give him a choice?

No. 

Then he's good with that. 

Are you good with that? 

I guess I have to be. Since you're on a roll, are you going to ban Caleb next? 

He smiles curtly. I might. 

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Charge.

I'm holding on
I'm holding on to you
My world is wrong
My world is lies come true

And I fall in love
With the ones that run me through
When all along all I need is you
I let the song play on repeat about fifteen times. It was a means to an end.

Shut it off, Bridge.

I pretend I can't hear him.

You can hear me.

I shake my head, tilting it slightly, turning the cup over and over in my hands. It's a camping mug, metal with a painted trees logo from some outfitter company. He threw it so hard the top rim is now an oval shape. I would have thought it should have bounced but what do I know?

I get scared, Peanut. 

Join the club. We're all 'fraidycats over here. It's like a house full of trembling children. 

Don't minimize how this feels. 

Oh, I'm not. If anyone ever put too much importance on feelings, it's me. Don't ever think differently, Loch. 

I don't. He says it softly. Still scared though. 

Well, you shouldn't be. 

Remember when you were little and I would say 'Don't worry, Peanut' and you'd get so mad you'd stomp your feet and practically rip my face off. 'As if that will just make me stop like magic', you would tell me. That's how this feels and I'm sorry I ever told you to stop.

Which? 

Huh? 

You're sorry you told me to stop worrying or sorry you told me to stop going to August? 

Both. 

But. 

But it isn't easy, Bridget.

Then just imagine being me. 

There's the despair back in his green eyes. He takes the mug from my hand and bends it easily back into a rough circle shape. I forget how strong he is. I forget how weak he can be. I forget how much he loves me sometimes because he can be so cutting, so harsh with his words. I forget that he doesn't mean to hurt me even as he means every last word.

I can stop. 

What? 

I can stay away from him. From August, if that's what you want. 

I don't know what I want, Peanut. I want you to be happy, I want you to have peace in all this but when you do and things are going good I wish I could shut it all down. 

So do I. 

You do? 

My friends are using me and at the same time I'm using them. It's unhealthy. No one's happy. I don't know who signs up for this shit with such a sparse return on their investment.

You would call it sparse. Trust me, they find it worthy.

What about the ones I don't go to? Think they find it worth the effort? 

They love you in different ways. I want to keep that division. Maybe it's selfish. We've come so far. I want something for myself. 

You have it. Forever. 

He hands me the dented, chipped cup as he pauses at the door. Tell August you're going to take a break. That he needs to step back for a time. That he's not going to come back and start causing more problems just when everything seems to be smoothing out. On second thought, you don't have to do anything. I'm going to tell him myself.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Told you not to envy anything about this, but you didn't listen either.

I'm outside on the porch, blanket over my lap, PJ's barn coat over my own flannel shirt and jeans. Cold coffee on the railing, new iPad still in the box on my lap. I'm watching the tiny birds look for leftover seeds in the grass. They look weightless, lighter than air. I never wanted to fly, never wanted to skydive, never wanted to sit on roof save as a means to get away from things, never felt the urge to soar above the walking universe.

Hey. I look up and Lochlan's behind the screen door. He's got two fresh cups of what I think are coffee until he comes out and hands me one and I see that it's not coffee at all. It's whiskey.

What are we celebrating? 

Who says we're celebrating?
He looks cross. We're medicating, Bridge. I am, anyway. 

Just say it. 

I can't ban you from him, can I? 

You can limit him. 

He's already limited and it still changed. 

That's inevitable. 

Shut it the hell off, Bridget. I'm not doing this. I'm not on board with this. I said no. I asked you, no, I begged you not to go over there. I beg you to not do all kinds of things and you just go anyway, like I don't exist. 

What am I supposed to do? 

Be normal. 

I snort and burst out laughing. It's not a nice laugh though. It's not happy. It's angry and spiteful. I can't believe you just said that. 

Be monogamous. Cut him off. Cut them all off.

Never have been in my life and who has benefit the most from that? You. What if anyone else had ever said that and shut you out in the cold? 

It's different. 

How?

It's me. 

Exactly. 

I'm either special or I'm just another fucking chump you can take your shit out on to make yourself feel better. But if I'm special everyone can't be special too. 

Jealousy is such a shitty colour on you, Lochlan. 

And I didn't raise a whore. 

Yeah. You did. Remember?

He takes his cup and throws it agains the wall. I did, didn't I? My mistake. Then he's gone and it's cold and silent again. The birds have flown away too and I couldn't fly if I tried, my heart weighs a thousand pounds easy.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Might have fucked up really badly here.

The bottom of the deep blue sea
The bottom of the deep blue sea
He's back and he's incredibly angry that Sam went ahead and let the army close up my ghost adventure park, behind his back, behind Joel's, with a decided lack of preparation and forethought, truth be told. It's like they just woke up with this plan. She has her soul, let's nix the spirits while we can, before anyone can object or continue to let Bridget grieve in her slow-motion sort of way, drifting aimlessly through life pinging back and forth between destroying the living and raising the dead.

Ironic, since a huge part of my draw toward him is that he's as close to Jake as I will ever be again. And I missed him terribly, as he went back for three weeks to Newfoundland and didn't call even once.

Not once.

Who's angry?

Hey, if Sam is calling the shots, what do you need me for? He's got me pinned against him, fighting with me to take me out of my clothes while I work to keep them on. Not doing this. No rage-homecomings. We have to sort out the hurt feelings and then we can move on to all the other stupid feelings because hurt clouds everything.

Stop. I struggle with him but he's not listening. My body is so on board with this but my heart wants to fix everything else first.

Not stopping. Ever think I missed you and that's why I couldn't call?

You didn't text me either.

Are you listening to what I just said? Shirt's off now. Goosebumps all over as it sinks in along with the chill from his loft, unheated while he was gone, just beginning to warm up.

I missed you.

That's a feeling. That's an affirmative feeling, August.

One that I hate myself for.

Don't say that. There go my jeans. I cross my arms in front of me for warmth, for protection from his words.

I wasn't going to go there. I haven't loved someone in a long time.

It's not love.

What is it?

I don't know.

Then call it love until you come up with something that makes you feel better. And he bends his head down to kiss Little Miss So Much Trouble he may have been better off staying away forever.