(Lit like a fibre-optic Christmas tree and back to sober in a three-hour span. Welcome to my rollercoaster. No pushing.)
I wasn't contemplating any of Lochlan's wine until August walked in through the back porch door, hung his plaid coat on a hook in the hallway and then reached for my ear with his thumb and forefinger as he was putting his arms around me for a hug, ostensibly checking to see if I had my hearing aids in.
I wouldn't be drunk but that's exactly the routine Jake would carry out when he came home from the church or from the university and I know damn well August didn't mean anything by it. Hell, I just typed something to that effect the other day about my bobby pins always falling out because the boys are always touching my head, it's a given, they check for the hearing aids daily or whenever they come in, all of them so I don't really think about it much, and my head is at midchest level for most of them which means it's far more comfortable for them to put their arms around my head (blockouttheworld) than around my shoulders or waist or something. I'm five feet tall. Try it. It's just weird to reach way down, I bet.
In my peripheral vision I could see August greeting the guys, their routine of grasping hands and thumping backs a few times swimming in blurry flannel when it became too much, when my knees were too weak to hold me up because it was the single most painful case of deja vu I've ever felt since Jake died. The tea towel fell on the floor and I sat down heavily in the chair by the dining room door and started hyperventilating. So so quietly. They don't need this. They've had enough. Pull yourself together and just relax. Only it wasn't working and I could hear the little tiny gasps and I couldn't keep them silent anymore and I banged my head against the wall and oh Jesus Ben came running after the third crack into the plaster and I pointed out the stars around my head and asked if maybe they were accompanied by birds and into his arms I went, shaking like a leaf.
I know, princess.
No, August was here and-
Holidays are hard, Bridget.
He squeezed me in his arms and I squealed and he let go and looked at me. I looked at my knees (Flutterbyesbrowneyes). I sat on my hands. I did not meet his eyes. A hard holiday indeed when missing someone two years gone grinds a perfectly reasonable season to a halt. A feeling I wish I could bury forever.
Lochlan was in the doorway and he crossed to the cupboard and took out a glass and the bottle of red wine from last night that we opened and did not get to. (DullthepaindullitdullitquietnotSatansway)
Just for tonight.
Yeah. Just for tonight. Bring me the wine and bookend me. Keep the ghost away and don't let him come back. He doesn't deserve to take responsibility for how I feel.
Has she already been drinking? (Andrew, surprised by such a rapid decent. He doesn't see so many of these.)
I don't think so.
Where is August?
I'm right here, Bridget.
It's not your fault.
I don't think you do.
Yeah, I miss him too. It isn't easy not having him here.
Everyone nodded. Which seemed comical. They were standing in a semicircle around where I sat, like jokers performing for the princess. Make her laugh. Win her favor and you will become the court jester! Everyone loves to laugh. Ben was on his knees in front of me, Lochlan had already turned his back and was pouring me a glass of wine because I won't take pills to feel better because pills take away the sad but they take away all the other feelings too and you wind up with cardboard-cutout Bridget and she's dull.
I'm right here, princess.
Don't go either, Ben.
I'm not going anywhere tonight, bee.
No, don't go away. You can't. I can't do this.
We'll be okay.
Why won't you LISTEN?
Three glasses of wine now and I'm not angry with Ben anymore. I know if we had a choice this would not be it. I know that I'm a hypocrite for taking the night off from my feral emotions, my vehemence and using alcohol to do it, and I know that August is not Jake. Okay, well, sometimes he is and those are the times you really must look out for Bridget because she goes to hell in her handbasket, handwoven from the bones within her flesh and really they will just ride this out.
A good crack on the head should always feature birds for entertainment, shouldn't it?
No, bee. It shouldn't.
Oh, well, in a perfect world it totally would, Benny.
Bridget, in a perfect world you wouldn't injure yourself on purpose.
Right. No one would, would they? Not me, not you, and certainly not Jake.
I know what Jake did. I hate him. And I love you.
Then put down the damned glass and come sit with me for a bit. Read the paper. Write something while I work on emails. Just put the glass down.
I can do that.
No birds. Good enough, I guess.
You're disappointed, aren't you?
Yes. I think birds should fly around my head perpetually, don't you?
I can do pathetic. What I can't seem to pull off is progress.