Saturday, 31 July 2010

Loch, stock and barrel.

Why don't you ask him if he's going to stay?
Why don't you ask him if he's going away?
Even most of the boys have switched to jeans and flannel shirts tonight.

It's cool, cold almost. A good night for a bonfire but we're not permitted bonfires due to being in the fourth week of a summer dry spell from the rain. Everyone seems to have dressed appropriately, however. Everyone is having fun. The dinner part is winding down now, latecomers milling around the barbecue while PJ serves up steaks and grilled cobs of corn and assorted goodies, my portobello mushroom caps that were a big hit as veggie burgers for the non-meat lovers. I know Schuyler can handle dessert and refilling coffees and lemonades and Chris will look after the beer and wine crowd.

Ben has taken centre stage with his acoustic down on the lawn with some of the older neighbors, all closet guitar players, it seems. I can hear them playing Tusk through the open window. My neighbor with the hydrangea (her garden makes me green with envy) is singing, God bless her heart.

I think the neighbors are all relieved, frankly.

We are nice people.

Not goat-sacrificers nor drug peddlers. Folks who worry about their dahlias and run out of propane and make kickass blackberry coffee cake just like they do, simply with unconventional jobs. And now they can also get the tour and understand the amount of space we have, that Lochlan has his own wing, distinct and apart from ours, as does August, and that Schuy and Daniel's apartment downstairs is darling, and possibly already better decorated than most of the expensive homes that circle the bay. That we all pitch in and look after the house and the garden, the vineyard and the orchard too, that we obey the speed limits and that the house is spotless. Oh, they looked, trust me. They see that my children are coddled and loved but also given limits, and have better manners than any of us. That we are well-read and cultured and travelled and not scary or gossipy in the least.

At least I hope so. The rumblings got back to me quickly when we moved in. The people who live up here are as protective of their neighborhood, of their peace and quiet, beautiful landscape and their way of life as are we, and so it was easy for us to choose this area. Even the bikes have been well-received, considering how loud they can be. The neighbors are discreet, in other words. We keep our privacy as long as we keep our decorum. That's so easy it's dumb.

They are sympathetic as well, upon hearing of some of what we have gone through, and I am protective of my reactions and so that's why right now I'm not so much hiding out as I'm taking a moment to breathe, away from everyone, because I can't deal with an endless parade of people exclaiming in hushed whispers that I seem to be doing well when they don't know me at all, and that I'm so young to have been through so much, when they don't know the half of it.

I don't want to hear that. A little understanding is fine, a wet blanket of pity and respect is more than I can bear. I'm permitted to hide for five more minutes and then I know August will knock gently on his door, since I commandeered his den, and I'll head back out into the night to have some more wine and maybe some strawberries if there are any left. I'll watch Caleb dance with Ruth and watch Lochlan watch me watching them while he pretends to be interested in the girl he brought tonight (because just ARRRRRRRRRGHHHHH) and watch Ben watch all of us with his usual casual interest that misses nothing while he seems to miss everything.

None of this has gotten past him, I assure you, and while he's content to bring down his hammer on affection that I traded freely once for security, his patience has worn thin. He is also anxious for life to begin, we have been stuck in limbo too long thus far.

I've stayed here too long as well, there's my knock now. Time to bring out the goats and drugs and freak the fuck out of everyone, I guess.

I'm kidding.

We don't do drugs.

I still want a goat, though.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Caught between the glass and the backing board.

Car overheats
Jump out of my seat
On the side of the highway baby
Our road is long
Your hold is strong
Please don't ever let go
I couldn't pretend that I had never read his letter. And I still find it funny to this day that no one ever said a thing or rang any alarms after seeing a seventeen-year-old boy dragging around a crying twelve-year-old girl by the hand but I'm guessing we look like brother and sister thanks to our hair, even though Lochlan's blonde is strawberries and mine is ashes.

He pushes my plate toward me.

Eat, Bridget. Come on, we can't stay here forever.

I'm not hungry.

I only said those things so that you would hate me and not want to come with me when I left and then I realized if I left you there you wouldn't be safe. Jesus. I'm seventeen. I'm supposed to be studying math and playing guitar and saving for a new car, not this.

You wanted this.

I'm saying I don't know everything and maybe I screwed up and I'm not going to screw up your life too.

So what now?

We drop it and go home. We go to school. Right through college. We do summer work on the midway but otherwise whatever romantic dream you have of staying on the road with the carnival has to end. Bridget, it isn't safe. He can get to you there.

He can get to me anywhere. He told me. Will we be together? You and I, I mean?

Of course. After college we can get married.

Can we buy a camper?

Sure.

* * * *

I'm standing outside the gates, digging in my bag for my watch. He's got to be late by now. The lineup is so long already and I don't know if I'm supposed to be in it or not. I walked from my job at the shopping center and Lochlan was driving back from a shift at the restaurant where he slings wine and fancy vertical appetizers to people who tip poorly. We are starving again. I always think I can fill the void with cotton candy but it doesn't work. It doesn't expand to fill me with sugary satisfaction, it contracts into a hard rock that gives me a belly ache.

I have lengthened out a little at fourteen. Lost a lot of baby fat. I'm lightly tanned and my hair is so long it regularly gets caught in the doors of the boy's trucks and in their watches. I have developed an affinity for short skirts and halter tops and flip-flops if I have to wear shoes. Every ride I go on is in bare feet because they make you take off slip-on shoes. I do this on purpose because it feels so good. I have developed a sick affinity for lip gloss. By the bucketful. I can charm almost anyone into anything and I'm aware of that in the way that you're aware that it's raining when you step outside into a monsoon.

A kiss lands on the back of my neck.

Let's go back to the truck.

Huh?

I need to talk to you.

People are going in, can't it wait?

The fair is all week, Bridget.

And we're...here, right? We had plans to go, that's why we're both here. What's going on?

Just come with me.

We go and sit in the truck and I have a sinking feeling I won't get to ride the ferris wheel after dark.

* * * * *

I knock on the door of the apartment hesitantly. Lochlan opens it, sees me and heads back to his computer. He is finishing up some work. Twenty-four and bearded now. The apartment is a mess and I start loading dishes into the sink from all over the place. I chastise him for not keeping it clean. He would be calmer if his living space were organized.

You didn't come here to do my housekeeping.

I stare at the framed photograph on his desk. It's me at seventeen, sitting in the ferris wheel alone and smiling. Waiting for him. Two summers ago. The fair is our thing, we still go to it together in spite of the fact that I have now been dating Cole for five years. Lochlan and Cole are friends so we're together all of the time. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

No, I came here to tell you I'm getting married.

Silence descends like a fog over the room and I'm acutely aware that this hurts. I don't want to look at him but he hasn't said anything.

He stands up, grabs his keys and brushes past me, walking out his front door and slamming it hard. After a minute I hear his truck start in the parking lot and he drives away.

* * * *

I knock softly on his door, and he calls out for me to come in. I open the door carefully and walk down the hall until I reach the sunny window nook where he has his desk. He is doing freelance work today. I pass him the steaming mug of coffee and he thanks me and smiles, his beard spreading out when his mouth turns up. He has lines around his eyes, now at forty-four and I can't help but be grateful that he has kept his promises to me in spite of the fact that three times now I have sprung engagements on him and once I have turned him down.

My eyes fall on the picture of me, still on his desk forever frozen in 1988. I wonder how long his promise will hold. I can see in his eyes the things he has been through and the one attempt to go away from me and make his own life that ended in disaster and brought him back for something over nothing at all. I worry that I have ruined him in a way that only we can understand and at the same time I will forever punish him for forcing me to grow up before I was capable of being the girl he wanted me to be, and for not stepping in and being the man that he promised he would be when it mattered most.

When Jacob flew I went to Lochlan and I asked him for help and he refused. I asked him to take his place in front of me and keep my children safe and I was going to go curl up into a ball and block everything out for a very long time and he said no because he was reeling and he couldn't help me, no one could, and that's your forty-eight hour gap between when they told me Jacob was gone and when I knocked on Caleb's door in hopes that death would take me quickly. Cole and Jacob were dead and Lochlan no longer wanted what was left of me so please, here, just make it quick.

Sadly, it didn't happen. Hi, I'm still here.

We exist in an awkward space, tied together with heavy ropes and then for good measure he has jammed a ruler down between us to always keep us a foot apart. For good measure Ben jammed another one down there and it hurts but I'll get used to it, just like I've grown used to the first one, my skin fused around it in a reluctant sort of acceptance. I think at this point we've had thirty years of stubbornness that has become too thick to swim through and that somehow retains the shape of our history despite our efforts to make it into something new. Once again the chance has passed, and frankly I don't think there will be another.

Then again, I didn't expect to have this sort of history in my life so I never say never any more. I'm not yet forty years old and yet I feel as if I have already lived a hundred lives, all different and varied and unpredictable and full, all compelling and eventual and complicated to a fault.

Lochlan realized the error of his ways very quickly after that first winter without Jake and I was gifted with the best revenge ever. Lochlan finally asked me to marry him so he could fulfill the dream of the twelve-year-old Bridget who would grow up to be his unintentional anchor, his focus, his muse.

And I said no.

Partly because I wanted to pay him back for being too late for pretty much everything I've ever been through, and partly because my focus is now on Ben and I think a lot of the time Lochlan's jealousy leads him to do and say things he doesn't want to follow through with. Lochlan has led a privileged life. Hungry by choice, vagrant by design, alone by one single hesitation that lasted an exhale too long and put me in the path of someone I have tried to outrun for most of my life as a result. Forgive? Sure. Forget? Never.

* * * *

Last night Lochlan brought home a camper, and I'm not sure if he's trying to fulfill my wildest dreams or finish me off. You'll have to ask the girl in the picture. She is life before death, and I am life after it.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

And you wonder why we struggle so.

Look at the ground look at the ground look at the ground.

I flick the mental metronome and start to count along.

Look at the ground look at the ground look at the
all of the sudden his eyelashes flicker and he slowly raises his eyes to meet mine. Mine are glassy, dripping with hot, panicked tears. The corners of my mouth are caked with cotton candy and I still have the five dollar bill clutched in my hand that he gave me for the hot dogs we're not going to get now. The ones he asked me to get so he would have time to leave.

What did you do, Lochlan?

Nothing, Bridget. Don't worry about it. We need to go.

What did you do? Tell me.

Is there anything you need from the camper?

My sweater.

Here, take mine. And if anyone asks you, make up a name.

Make up a-what's going on?

Let's go.

He grabbed my arm and pulled me around, practically running. We make it to the truck and he opens my door and lifts me up, shoving me in at the same time and I feel my hair brush the doorframe. A hair's breadth away from being knocked out but I land safely on the seat and scramble to launch toward his door to open it. Only I don't know what the rush is for. Maybe he has seen a ghost. Maybe he's robbed someone. I just know that Lochlan is never scared of anything unless it concerns me and so I do what I am told.

One minute I am reading his letter telling me to go away, go home, go to school, be a good girl and the next minute I am his only possession worth taking in an emergency.

Well, that's kind of thrilling in itself but I'm afraid because he's afraid so it's not something I can dissect enough to feed to my ego. Not now, maybe later.

He stomps on the gas and the truck spins in the dirt, spraying gravel all over the trailer. It screams to life and suddenly we are jolting along at a hundred and thirty miles an hour on the packed dirt road, full of potholes and I scramble back over to my own side and grab my seatbelt. It's that or go through the windshield and I'm twelve so I had my whole life ahead of me up until this point or so I think because I don't know what we're running from. We turn onto the highway and drive the wrong way. Inland. I have never gone this way before.

I'm so sorry, Bridget. I thought it was you. I should have known better. Dammit! I should have KNOWN it wasn't your fault.

But it was. I didn't mean for it to happen.

It's my fault. I left you alone too long. I'll never forgive myself. I'm so sorry, baby.

So why are we leaving? That's family you're taking us away from!

Those people are not your family, Bridget.

He yanked the wheel and the truck veered dangerous across two lanes and skidded to a halt on the shoulder of the highway. He throws his arm out reflexively to block me as I lurch toward the dashboard, the seatbelt all but useless the way he is driving. We're far enough away now. It's dark out and Lochlan hates night driving. Maybe I can reason with him and we can go home, back to our cozy little camper. To sleep. Maybe get our food first. I'm hungry. I'm always so hungry. We don't get enough to eat and my stomach growls loudly and Lochlan hears it and rests his head on the steering wheel, helpless. I know he wants to cry but he's being strong because I'm not.

Bridget, listen to me.

I lean in and listen very closely. Lochlan talks low, quietly and he is difficult to hear with the trucks rumbling past us, shaking our seats, rattling the windows. I listen and my eyes grow wide and suddenly I understand everything that has made him afraid and I am glad we are away from there.

But what about the letter?

Pretend you never saw it. I thought I was protecting you by leaving you behind and I was wrong.

So now what?

Now? Easy. We find a different midway. Maybe go to Ontario. And I never let you out of my sight again.

For how long though?

The rest of your life. I'm your family now, Bridget. And I will watch over you until the day I die.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Quick before the vision goes away.

You know it's summer when the boys are all hanging out in the backyard wearing their utilikilts and holding plates loaded with meat. I've always enjoyed July but this just makes it completely worthwhile.

There are no mosquitoes here either. That helps.

A lot, Ben says.

Snort.

Torpor torpedo girl.

Keith is a little bit like Ben. As fast as I can empty blueberry muffins out of the pans, he is eating them. But his hands are covered with black grease from one of the motorcycles and besides, these aren't all for him. I wave my oven mitts at him.

Stop it. Stop it right now.

You're the best cook, Bridget.


Thanks but flattery won't get you any extra muffins today, Keith.


I can pay you for them.


Your money isn't any good here. At least wait until tonight when everyone has had some and then see what's left okay?

Sorry.

Don't be. They're muffins, not feelings.


He just looked at me strangely and headed back outside. I forget that my giant kitchen window overlooks the driveway three levels below and they can smell everything I'm making.

Duncan follows soon after, grabbing a muffin. Doesn't anyone ever wash their hands around here? Better yet, doesn't anyone ever ask if something is available before they just take it?

One, poet. These are for everyone, not just for lunch for you guys.

I can wait. I just wanted to see what you were doing.


Baking. Then mopping. Then laundry, then I'll take the kids to the park. Want to come?


Sure do. Want a ride on the bike first?


Tonight instead.
Please?

Sure thing.


He wanders back outside and I leave the muffins cooling and go and pull out the bucket and the mop. Put the laundry in the dryer, mop the bathrooms and kitchen floors and organize dog and children (sunscreen/keys/bathroom visits/leash) and then we head out.

We're back twenty minutes later because the children started in on each other and because it's surprisingly hot for me today. Usually I don't mind but sometimes it's almost too much and I prefer to hide in the shade, lingering in cooler shadows while outside everything transpires slightly more slowly and with less patience than before.

Tonight when things cool down a bit I will switch into jeans and a big hoodie and Ben's jean jacket and a helmet and I'll climb onto the back of Duncan's motorcycle and we'll drive up to the top of the mountain and back down and we'll marvel at the wind and the beauty of the coast and then I'll come home and clean up supper and have a hot bath with Ben again and hopefully sleep. Hopefully, I say, because I can only get so far by myself and I tend to wake up after only a handful of hours.

Don't be sad for me though, I've been this way all of my life and I'm sure that had I ever been able to learn to sleep deeply I would be a devastating intellectual or some such fabulous creature instead of a chronically sleep-deprived unfunctional little human girl, writing down every last thing she needs to remember lest she become distracted and forget something. As if organization is some sort of hallmark of competency or some equally foolish conclusion.

No, seriously, that's how it is. And I have coffee and narcolepsy at hand presently as proof. You could argue with me, but frankly I'm too tired to care. At least everything is done, which means I can sleep.

But I can't sleep, and so on it goes.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Recent Proposal.

In honor of our first official BC Day, I've decided to throw a party.

Not a big huge bash, just a barbecue for about thirty people, more or less. A midsummer soiree. Jeans and beer. Steaks, burgers, corn. Chocolate cake. Sparklers. Because we are celebrating being here together, being on the coast again at last, and because there has been some quiet good fortune and luck mixed in with the usual bullshit so that's good enough and really I'm long overdue for a cocktail party that doesn't involve ten-million-dollar yachts and/or penthouses with forays into princess-trafficking if I may be so cheeky as to call it that.

Trust me.

Still, I invited the devil. I invited everyone and everyone can bring someone fun if they have someone. PJ has been sort of maybe seeing someone. Duncan likes a girl. Caleb is not permitted to bring anyone he has paid for or coerced, nor is Sophie invited so I'm betting he'll either fly away somewhere or show up alone. Children, dogs, neighbors and guitars have been summoned. Dalton will be home on Friday so it's perfect. I will charm Daniel and Benjamin into helping me make some potato salad and a million garlic rolls and sliced vegetables and fruits and assorted yummy things for a burger bar. We'll get some ice cream. BYOB for those who drink, Lemonade for those who don't. Lochlan will most likely stay in his wing and not show his face. That's fine. I've been sworn at all week long, I don't want to see him, frankly.

The boys can take turns at the grill. They're all good at things with meat and/or fire.

Har.

Last time I threw a party of this size I got married so it's been a little over two years and I don't really remember much about the day other than the looks of veiled shock on the faces of my family as I actually went through with something they never expected.

New-Jake and Keith will eat everything in sight. I am learning that about them. But they will also pitch in and carry things and clean up and get ready. One can mow the grass tomorrow and the other can set up the tables down by the vineyard gate. It's going to be beautiful here this weekend, so why not short notice? Why not come as you are?

Why not celebrate something instead of waiting for everything?

Of course, this will all be contingent on whether or not I murder Lochlan in his sleep tonight. We'll see how the next three days go, shall we?
How dare you say that my behavior is unacceptable
So condescending, unnecessarily critical
I have the tendency of getting very physical
So watch your step cause if I do you'll need a miracle

You drain me dry and make me wonder why I'm even here
This double vision I was seeing is finally clear
You want to stay but you know very well I want you gone
Not fit to fucking tread the ground that I'm walking on

When it gets cold outside and you got nobody to love
You'll understand what I mean when I say
There's no way we're gonna give up
And like a little girl cries in the face of a monster that lives in her dreams
Is there anyone out there cause it's getting harder and harder to breathe

Monday, 26 July 2010

Trailer park notes.

Look what's out a little early. I cannot WAIT to see this.

Suckerpunch.

Enjoy and goodnight.

Four a.m. shadow.

Jacob smiles ruefully, tossing his head back to keep his waves out of his eyes. His hair is getting long again and I'm struck by the fact that I didn't realize this was possible in heaven. That his hair would grow. I say as much and he laughs bitterly.

This isn't heaven, pigalet.

I ignore that, because I know, and we don't talk about how I fail to release him, ever, because here he is closer. Here, I might get him back with a lick and a miracle.

What was the tequila for?

I hate it when they fight.

And the tequila helped end the fight?

Of course not.

Then you don't need it, Bridget.

Maybe I wanted it, Jake.

Don't use that stuff, princess.

Then come back and I won't have to.

I would if I could.

(hear that? That was the sound of my broken heart clattered down out of the cords and into the bottom of my soul again. THANKS A LOT, JAKE.)

How is Ben?

I'm fine, preacher.

Took you long enough to carry this through.

I had to do it my own way. I thought it would work but you were right.

Jake smiles, not in a superior way, just in a glad-it-all-worked-out way.

And Lochlan?

Angry.

I don't doubt it. Caleb?

You gotta ask, preacherman?

Bridget? How are you with all of this?

I don't know, Jake. Why don't you all ask each other how I am? Isn't that the way this works?

You're full of it this morning, princess.

It's temporary, Jake. Ben, not to be difficult but you make decisions and stick with them until the wind blows.

I stuck with you, didn't I?

That wasn't a choice, Benjamin, it was an inevitability.

Ben grins and sticks his tongue out at me to dissipate my sudden, unwarranted attitude. I melt and I can feel pieces of my heart climbing back up my insides and tack-welding themselves back together. It hurts and I wrap my arms around myself just in case I pass out. I hate it when he's disarmingly smug. It usually means it's followed by some wonderfully sweet moment that invariably finishes me where I stand.

I am not disappointed.

We stand there and smile at each other.

What a goof.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

The angel of Patrick Wilson.

The fair was so much fun. I wanted to pet the baby goats and ride a few rides and eat cotton candy and not fry in the sun and I managed to cover all of my bases save for the part in my hair, which is pink and slightly tender, especially where Ben held the top of my head this morning as we woke up slowly.

I left my hair down yesterday and at one point wished I had put it up as I was whipped around over and over and my hair was flying out everywhere. Usually I put it up (okay, daily), not only for the heat but because it could become tangled and God forbid my untimely death occurs at a carnival because well, that would just be serendipity, wouldn't it?

Speaking of death,

Okay, maybe not yet.

Also good to make note for the larger carnival next month would be that cotton candy made on-site is better than bagged, imported cotton candy and that texting teenagers who fail to acknowledge you at the counter can ruin the entire experience. I believe I much prefer the leering pizza-on-a-stick man from the Red River Exhibition because at least he gave a shit. This intensely distracted seventeen-year-old (who was so busy on her blackberry she had it plugged into a charger) made me feel vaguely annoyed.

But again, I'm sure the big one will be better. They always are, with a contagious, kinetic energy that runs through me like a current. I am saving my dollars and my energy and will probably not ride the scrambler again. Oh and the best part? The kids are 52" tall (and then some!) each finally. So I'm not forced to accompany them on the screamingly terrifying ones like the endless slide or the tilt-a-whirl. And they are not forced to join me on my favorite, the ferris wheel. Not the big parasol one that stops a billion feet up, I prefer the rickety little metal ones, and only backwards, if you please. Leave me there all damn day and go have fun, I will still be smiling when you return.

Maybe it's the only place that suspends time that isn't the seaside.

That's okay too. More options are better though I think I'll need a winter choice now as well. Carnivals in the winter are incredibly sad places to me, and frankly so is the beach, though less so. I do love a beach without people on it. It's one of the reasons I live here now. It's almost offensive to see someone else strolling along what I have come to consider my beach, and anyone who brings me down to it is summarily dismissed. Walk ten feet behind me and disappear if I turn around, because I'd like to be alone now, please.

There is no 'alone' at a carnival but it's interesting to be surrounded with crowds, line-ups and people and not know any of them, save for my boys. When we left, we fulfilled our usual tradition of bestowing all of our remaining tickets on a family who was running dry. They hopefully spent another hour there on the rides. Tickets are expensive. All-day bracelets are cheaper but I usually figure that out halfway through.

Last night the late-night plan was to watch a few movies. I was awake (for a change) and was blessed with watching Losers, which was incredibly fun and Passengers, which ripped the rug out from under me and left me sobbing long after the credits rolled. Not just a few tears but sobbing and I think I'm afraid of death again, which is good news if you are not Bridget but bad news if you are.

I can't explain it. We thought it was going to be a profoundly creepy movie about people who develop ESP after a plane crash.

Well, it's not.

Not even close.

I wanted to check afterward and see if it was written by M. Night Shyamalan, in a good mood for once, since I have grown to despise his movies but it was written by someone else. I wish I had had some warning. Maybe it was better this way, but honestly I ignore most movie reviews and buzz and prefer to come to my own conclusions. Which is also the way I view music and pretty much everything else in my life. Let me make my own mistakes and then I will learn from them. It was incredibly good and quietly profound, just like me. So go see it if you missed it, and take the tissues with you. You will need them. You're welcome.

Tonight we have The Hurt Locker because we're trying to catch up on movies because the end of Ben's project is finally in sight and vacation has appeared in a faint glow on an imaginary horizon. We are making plans to go to the beach and to picnic on the top of a mountain overlooking the city and hit the big fair and watch a million movies and sleep until noon (which Bonham will NEVER go for, unfortunately) and have a few of those romantic dinners at new restaurants (I staked out before I even got here) but will keep quiet or Caleb will trick me into going to them with him and that's finished for now. Bridget's going to do the famous Grouse Grind as well. I am excited. I'm going to get a t-shirt.

And I need to write. I'm just barely beginning to get back into writing and pulling out old projects and waking the fuck up from bad dreams and finding my cadence that disappears so easily and comes back so painfully, with so much effort.

2010 is now half over and we've spent enough time starting over and re-arranging life. My life is half over and I've spent enough time starting over and re-arranging time.

Far too profound a conclusion from a day that was constructed around mindless entertainment, wasn't it? Some days are like that, I guess.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Let love rule (Thanks Lenny).

Sorry, I took a tequila vacation and Lochlan followed me around all morning cleaning up internet messes as I made them, I think.

He is still here. What, did you think he would be thrown out? Asked to leave? No, the only new rule on top of Stop Touching Bridget was No More Fights, Goddammit, We Go Through This Every Single Year.

Both will be ignored, I'm sure. But the collective will stay intact, because we're a family. No matter what.

Caleb was amused as well and will play along as long as he can until it becomes overwhelming and then he'll just squeeze by threatening to petition to have my primary custody of Henry revoked in favor of English boarding school. Which, well, literally, darling, over my dead body, if that's the way it has to be. Ben won't let it come to either threat so really, how have we advanced here this week other than the knowledge that Friday mornings in Mexico are profoundly underwhelming?

Well, I'll tell you how. Since you're here.

Sam and Duncan ganged up on me and poured the tequila out and the coffee in because the boys like to force me to do all kinds of healthy things too, like confront issues and deal with life as it happens so that I don't follow Ben down the path of total escape. That path is a parachute with no strings, tossed out of a plane running on fumes and your pilot has already bailed.

Oddly I don't think Ben is going to cave and I knew this would happen when I rinsed the dirt off Lochlan's secrets and put them here. Ben feels threatened by my past because he is never sure if he's enough, if this is good enough, if we have enough love or can make enough history together to supersede or even just compete with everything that has happened thus far.

That makes me so fundamentally sad I can't even quantify it. And surprisingly Ben will tell you he doesn't give a fuck about anything and you will probably believe him because Ben lives life with a total recklessness that is only borne of hardship and pain. You don't have to understand why I'm going to abide by his wishes, you just have to know that I am.

As long as is humanly possible.

You laugh because something so simple is such a challenge task for me. You come to absorb my words with such curiosity, such disbelief. Well, you don't have the history and you don't live in this house. In this house, love rules everything and death takes those normal basic rules and turns them inside out and it's years before you realize you've been running on one set of feelings to outrun another.

Years.

This is where I am today. Half-sober, half-ruined, and half-renewed.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Over time (the end of the grand experiment).

Told me you loved me, that I'd never die alone
Hand over your heart let's go home.
Everyone noticed, everyone had seen the signs,
I've always been known to cross lines.

I never ever cried when I was feeling down,
I've always been scared of the sound.
Jesus don't love me, no one ever carried my load,
I'm too young to feel this old.

Here's to you, here's to me, oh to us,
Nobody knows
Nobody sees
Nobody but me
He bent his head down low, pushing against my hair, his arms sliding around my back, easily across the satin slip. He pushed me down onto the bed, kissing my throat, tracing his fingers down my face.

I love you.

I braced myself for him and then I was tearing at the sheets, turned over and hammered into, kissed all over, crushed beneath him. Returned to my back so he could smile down at me, slower now, harder now, until I'm clawing at air, his hand over my mouth so I can't scream, his head pressed against my mine. Then his hands are down, full weight and he pulls my hips into his so hard I can't breathe. Razorburn brings sweet stinging agony to my skin, sweat challenges our strength as efforts are wasted when our limbs slide freely over one another.

I am lifted, pulled away and then brought back to my delight and everything else goes away until the only focus is Ben. I am suddenly touched by how happy that makes me. How incredibly sure I am that after all of these efforts to test my loyalties they still remain with this man, and I am sitting above him now, knees up and wrapped around his back and his arms are around me and this is how we always end up and he kisses me because I am on his level at last. Cementing that loyalty. He looks at the clock, sighs and gets up, passing me my dress, apologizing for tearing my slip. It was vintage. Pale rose. He adores it on me and I am made to sleep in it often. I believe I can mend it still. He steps over to me and grabs my head in both hands, pulling me up to him for a kiss. One of these days I fear my head's going to come right off when he does that but I love it anyway. I am returned to earth gently. Beauty and the beast. So much heart in one room we're going to blow the walls out.

I love you, Bridget.

I love you, Ben.

We should have kept going. It took another two hours for everyone to show up for the family meeting Ben called, after hardly speaking to anyone for the past two weeks.

I should really learn that when a man stands in front of me with his back to me, blocking access that something very serious is about to take place and I am being shielded from harm.

Ben took this stance. Last night when he first came home and took me upstairs he looked at me with his eyes red and wired and exhausted, and he said simply,

Enough.

He turned around, facing his friends, taking a drink from a bottle of water. Almost to the letter I could have sworn it was something else because the action is the same but it was water. He put the bottle down on the table and he scooped his arm behind his back, me within his reach and gently pushed me further so I couldn't see their faces, so they couldn't see me.

I just pressed my forehead against his back and his arm came back again, pressing me against him, squeezing me in his own shorthand. It will be okay. And then he started to talk and I was shoved to the floor abruptly as Lochlan picked that moment to go for broke. All of the sudden everyone is shouting and PJ went for Lochlan and nailed him to the floor, keeping him there and Ben turned around and pulled me up off the floor and I tried to ask them what in the hell is wrong with all of you and I couldn't and I don't want to see them fight and Ben is trying to talk to me but Lochlan is still yelling, screaming for me and PJ is sitting on him so he's going nowhere.

Ben took my hand and he kissed it and he tucked it into his and led me upstairs to sleep. He was finished. Something I wished for. I don't know how it's going to work with this house or the new company or with the devil for that matter but all he had to do was say those words that burn Lochlan's ears and heart so badly and I can't help it.

She's mine.

This is what I have said all along as I've been passed from one to the next. No timeshares. Don't do this. Please. I can't do this. And then, fine. I'll embrace it. This is life now if this is the choice you have made. This is what grownups do. They take their bad ideas and they run with them and then later on they learn the cost. And then they have to figure out how to pay. I am bankrupt. I have no more emotional currency for this. It is over.

We're leaving now to drive downtown for breakfast with the devil, to do this all over again, so forgive me if I'm a little stressed this morning. I need to keep making sure it's water Ben is drinking because if he changes then he doesn't get to make any rules and Jesus Christ, no one wants me making them.

He holds my hand. So tightly I want to cry with relief but I'm waiting. Maybe later when we are safe again.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

For Caleb.

And the tail-lights dissolve, in the coming of night
And the questions in thousands take flight
My love is the miles and the waiting
The eyes that just stare, and a glance at the clock
And the secret that burns, and the pain that won't stop
And it's fuel is the years
Leading me on
Leading me down the road
I'm sitting on the raft, waiting for Lochlan to swim back out and bring me in to shore. It's too far and I'm not a good swimmer. I'm still not a good swimmer. He would always stay beside me and take long slow strokes to keep pace or he would let me piggyback on him, arms around his neck the whole way out if he felt so inclined.

Caleb appears from the other side of the raft. The 'deep' side where the older kids hang out at the rope swing. He is twenty. I am twelve years old. I have secret dreams about him but it's rare that he pays me any attention. His wet hair is in his eyes, his trunks are dripping, low on his hips. He is thin but strong. Twenty-year old muscles look good in comparison to the ones of a seventeen-year-old Lochlan and a sixteen-year-old Cole.

Do you need help getting back, Bridget?

No, Lochlan is coming for me.

He stands, looking toward shore and he smiles into the sun, hand up over his brow to cut the glare.

I don't think he's coming out, Bridge.

He will. He's mad at me.

Why?

I want to go with him when he goes out with the show.

For the rest of the summer? What about swimming? What about your friends?

He's my best friend. I don't want to be away from him so long.

Everyone else is here, Bridge. You're too young anyway.

I'm not.

Wait a few more years. I'm heading in now. I can drive you home if you want to come with me.

I stared at Lochlan. He was talking intently to Bailey, his hand up pulling on his ear like he does when he's self-conscious but trying to look fascinating. Bailey only has eyes for Caleb right now, and she's staring back toward me, I make a motion for her to wait and I indicate that Caleb will drive us. She nods and I know she's about to ask Lochlan if he's going to come and get me for her so we can get home.

It's too late. Caleb sinks into the water and then waits for me to descend from the raft. I try and nonchalantly slide off the edge but it's scraping my legs so I push away and my head goes under instantly. Caleb reaches down and grabs my arms and pulls me back up and he pulls me in until his arms are around me and I didn't see but PJ always tells it like Lochlan stopped mid-sentence and ran down to the water, wading in and then diving under and that he's never seen a look like that on Lochlan's face before. I just remember wow, what a weird feeling to be in Caleb's arms and it's not bad but it feels really strange and good and then all of the sudden, Lochlan is there pulling me off Caleb and Caleb is laughing and Lochlan says something about thanks for taking care of her. Caleb says that someone should be and swims away.

Lochlan just stares at me for a moment and I'm not sure what I did to upset him so much. What I know is that he didn't like it. I got his attention by paying attention to someone else. Someone he considers competition maybe or someone he aspires to be like. I would file that away for future reference. Lochlan turns away now, pulling my arms around him and I lock my hands around his neck and huddle against his back as he slowly makes his way back to shore.

That night at the bonfire I am sitting between Lochlan and Christian. I have had three burned marshmallows and half a bottle of Schooner and I'm buzzing into the flames and zoning out, falling asleep because it's late and my head dips onto Christian's shoulder so he gives me a gentle shove until I lean the other way, against Lochlan. Lochlan kisses the top of my head but keeps talking. They are talking about cars. I am so tired from the fresh air. I can hear the music down the beach. Caleb and his friends have backed a truck down to the sand and the doors are open and Robert Plant is on, Big Log. Caleb is sitting quietly by a bigger bonfire watching the others make fools of themselves but he is a little bit blurry because my eyes keep closing and because there is fire blocking my view of him.

Soon Lochlan picks me up, carrying me to the truck in his arms. I'll never be a grownup at this rate and I am dismayed but I think I'm too drunk to walk and not awake anyway. He puts me in the passenger side and pushes me until I am lying down and then he gets in the driver's side and rearranges me, shoving his hoodie under my head. He drives and I fall asleep again. It's warm and safe and comfortable. He turns off the radio and I am in dreams.

I'm out of dreams suddenly. We have stopped. Lochlan is sitting with the engine off, his hand stroking my hair. I sit up abruptly, sleep leaving me. I look around but it's pitch black.

Where are we?

Just up from the dunes. Look that way. See the light from the buoy?

Oh, okay. What are you doing?

Just sitting. Letting you sleep. Thinking.

About?

I think maybe if you want to come with me for some of the work this summer, than you should.

I want to but how?

We'll just tell your parents that you're staying at the cottage with us. (I had been going to his parents cottage for years already.)

What about Bailey?

Same thing. She's busy with her friends.

Really?

I jumped on him, squeezing him hard. I was so excited. Old enough to go out with the midway. Lochlan's approval was my oxygen. He wanted me to go along. Best day of my life.

His arms closed around me and he didn't let go right away. We just stayed as we were. I was sitting on his lap and he was still belted in. He reached down with one hand under my thigh and unfastened his seatbelt. And he kissed me, not letting go an inch. I couldn't breath. I wasn't sure what to do. I just kind of stayed where I was and let him try and teach me without words how to kiss him back and then I figured it out quite quickly and his hands went to my head. He pulled me back and stared at me.

He swore softly, in my face.

I burst into tears.

We didn't move.

He pulled me in against his chest and I could look over the back seat and see the mess of beach towels, stacks of Chilton car repair guides, Pepsi cans and empty cigarette packs. I stayed clutching Lochlan's neck forever, it seemed. I closed my eyes. I started to go back into my dreams and he let go and I felt cold and he shoved me back into my place beside him and kissed my cheek and started the truck. We drove out of the dunes silently.

We never saw Caleb was sitting at the top of the boardwalk stairs above.

Two days later I was packed, wearing my baby blue backpack, waiting on the porch for Lochlan when Caleb drove up to pick up Bailey and her friends for yet another day at the lake.

You coming too, little Fidget?

No, I'm...heading to Lochlan's cottage for a week.

But Lochlan won't be there, he's starting Midway tomorrow.

I know. I'm just going to hang out there.

Bridget. I was seventeen once.

So?

I saw you guys the other night, after the bonfire.

So? (I'm caving in now. I don't understand.)

Don't cry. Just don't go to the fair, okay?

I won't.

You promise me? Please? When you get back from the cottage I'll take you out for dinner at the A&W drive-in in the car.

Just us?

Sure.

Okay.

He continued to look at me.

What?

It's just..weird. You're still a little kid but you're not a little kid anymore.

His eyes dropped to my legs. Brown and bare. I stood up, self-conscious, hugging myself. Caleb corrected his gaze.

I just want you to be careful of the wolves, Bridget. It's only going to get worse now.

That's what they call you, you know.

He laughed.

When will I see you?


Probably around the end of the third week of August.

You're staying at his cottage with his folks until he comes back from the Midway?

Yes.

You've already lied once to me, then.

I'm in tears as Lochlan pulls up. I hide my face behind my hands. Instantly there's a shoving match. Lochlan is the smaller of the two but he's brave. Caleb, for all of his burgeoning power, is not a fighter.

What did you say to her, Caleb?

That she needs to watch out for predators.

So you're showing her what one looks like?

Yeah, you. Caleb points at Lochlan, who counters with a fist. Miss.

This is none of your business, Caleb.

She's too young for you.

I'm not interested.

That isn't what I saw the other night. At the beach.

Oh, hell. It was a mistake.

One that's going to get a lot worse if you take her on this run.

Mind your own business.

I am. Leave her here.

Are you ready, Bridge?

Lochlan gives up and turns back to me. He takes my backpack off me and looks at his watch. He's breathing hard from the physical confrontation. He tries to smile at me and drops it quickly.

Yeah, let's go, Lochlan.

This isn't over, Loch.

Yeah it is.

Caleb just shook his head. Probably too cool to fight over a twelve year old. He was fighting from a different place. I understand that now. And he and Lochlan are still fighting and I'm sure it stems from that incident. But I also think that incident sparked a change in all of them. I was no longer the little girl following them around. I realized that the morning after the night Lochlan and I finally did seal our fate. I stood in the cornfield covered with dirt, crying with shame as he dug the hole, wishing we were burying Caleb instead of secrets. We had to go back and he would know. He would just know.

Funny how NOTHING EVER CHANGES.

Your move, asshole.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Can't hold on to me.

I linger in the doorway
Alarm clock screaming
Monsters calling my name
Let me stay
Where the wind will whisper to me
Where the raindrops as they’re falling tell a story

In my field of paper flowers
And candy clouds of lullaby
I lie inside myself for hours
And watch my purple sky fly over me

Don’t say I’m out of touch
With this rampant chaos/your reality
I know well what lies beyond my sleeping refuge
In the nightmare I built my own world to escape

Swallowed up in the sound of my screaming
Cannot cease for the fear of silent nights
Oh, how I long for the deep-sleep dreaming
The goddess of imaginary light
This morning we have Amy Lee's voice competing with the theme music for Wayside on the television and everyone is patiently waiting for the baby-muffins to be ready. Daniel is baking them. Alone. Which means they will be perfect because he's a perfectionist. It also means they will take forever because he butters the pan perfectly and cracks the eggs perfectly and makes perfect conversation to cover up the fact that his eyes are puffy this morning and he is rather drawn and tired-looking and I know he fights with Schuyler and I know Schuyler can be cutting and cruel. Caleb-caliber cruel except that Caleb is afraid of nothing and Schuyler is afraid of me. And so he should be. Daniel is my charge, just like I am Lochlan's for the time being while Ben works overtime on top of overtime to finish this project.

Lochlan is reading through his notes and working from home. His reflexes are to lock me down and bar the door whenever Caleb's horns and forked tongue are showing at the same time and frankly I believe he feels left out. I spent hours hanging out in the crook of his arm yesterday, working on some stories I have been commissioned to write and then trying to stay awake while I listened to music on my BlackBerry, headphones jammed in tight to block out his parental tirade. Gentle, but still parental so I rebel and invite Daniel to come up and spend the morning because Daniel needs to be shaken, not stirred some days and really I wish that everyone would just act the same all the time, which is on their best behavior but oh, then things aren't any fun and it's much better when there is some fun.

I have chosen to retreat back into black this morning and the black stockings, platform shoes and buttoned-black dress are almost too much for Lochlan to bear. He prefers beach-Bridget, as did Jacob. Bikini top under eyelet camisole. Jeans. Flip-flops or dirty feet altogether. Evil eye bracelet leaving a tan line on my arm and tattoos covered with SPF30, always because faded tattoos make sadness in the world. Same big black bag slung over my shoulder, full of lip gloss, pennies, bobby pins, CDs and photographs. Always.

Imaginary would sound better on eleven but Henry takes priority and so it is on three. And these muffins would taste a lot better if Ben was sitting here eating one with me but really we all know he would shove the whole thing into his mouth and then get up and knock the chair over and proceed to eat the rest of them and then drink the coffee straight from the coffee pot before taking a bite out of the glass to wash it down so really in a way this is maybe better because this way everyone gets some and I'll still be able to make some coffee later when the afternoon narcolepsy begins to soak through my limbs and brain.

If it can find the way through all of this black, Lochlan says, reading my mind.

It comes from the inside out. I scowl at him and return to my words, I can arrange them with the blinding white light of a seaside morning where the sand is still warm and the waves break clear on broken shells, or I can go dark and shine a dim light on the letters as I pull them off the floor, puncturing my hands on the nails scattered around them, peeling back my fingernails, blood pouring down my knuckles as they become slippery but having to endure the pain to feel which letter I picked up in the first place because I cannot see. For the death of me, I cannot see.

Both are equally compelling, and equally likely on a day like today.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Reprobate.

Hello, are you still chasing
The memories in shadows
Some stay young, some grow old
Come alive, there are thoughts unclear
You can never hide

Even in madness, I know you still believe
Paint me on canvas so I become
What you could never be

I dare you to tell me to walk through fire
Wear my soul and call me a liar
I dare you to tell me to walk through fire
I dare you to tell me
I dare you to
Early this morning in the pool, I stayed in Ben's arms, face to face, the cool embrace leaving me with teeth chattering that he tries to stop by holding me tighter. Enveloped in his cold flesh I simply shake more and I put my head down on his shoulder and try to sleep in the water but that's dangerous and it doesn't take him long to ruin it and lead me out into warmed towels. I still smell like chlorine all over but it's similar to bleach and maybe that's a good thing.

Last night I stood between them, my back pressed against Ben, my head low against Caleb's chest. Eyes closed. Silence in the form of a wall of apathy and hate. Regrets scattered everywhere, the aftermath of the argument about who forgot and who didn't. You want to know why I had house guests? You want to know why I threw myself into New-Jake's problems on purpose? You want to know why I've been Bridget, twice-removed?

Caleb took my hands and turned them over, exposing scars that he traced with his thumbs. He put my hands up over my head against the wall and held them there with one hand as the other wrapped around my back and pulled me in closer, burning my skin, away from the cold that is Benjamin. I could feel his hands shaking. He is so angry and I am afraid. He whispers something against my hair and I miss it and he stops and looks at Ben and Ben says no in such a soft voice I almost missed that too and then I'm aware that Ben has left because I can't see him and I can't go to him right now and I don't know why everyone finds this so hard. I can't feel anything. I don't want to feel anything.

It's wrong. All of it. I know this.

I failed to acknowledge Cole's death out loud for Caleb's benefit (or as he says, for Ruth's) and so I need to be here for my amercement.

I didn't forget, I promise.

Ruth and I had talked quietly, long into the morning. Ben and I talked about it too. I talked to God about but God wasn't home (he never is when I need him) and so I talked to Sam instead. I talked to New-Jake a little bit and I didn't talk to Lochlan at all.

I didn't talk to Caleb either and the rage is spilling into his eyes now, blue-black, crowding out the envy and the lust, killing gluttony altogether. He is so angry he's failing to notice the marks he is leaving on me, marks that Ben will tally later tonight when he removes my slip and marks that will be added to the death note and then Caleb can go and be with his precious brother who liked nothing more than to hurt the one he loved.

I finally turned my head back and spoke very clearly between synapses of pain firing all over the room, making holes for the moonlight, making an escape route for my brain.

I wish I could forget him, and I wish I could forget you too.

May as well give him exactly what he wants. An unfair fight. I want Ben so badly to help and he senses that and returns to watch but he can't right this wrong and I hate him too, but so briefly. Save me, you're the strongest. Please, Ben and Ben shakes his head because he is paralyzed with grief, with perversion, with some heroic need to be the one who doesn't try to lock me down and maybe for that he will be with me forever.

Caleb pours vodka all over me and then in my mouth until I am drowning and Ben can't touch that. It's forbidden and he wants it, me, so badly I know he can already taste it and I don't want him to touch me in case it gets on his fingers, and then on his lips but I can't hear myself, the music is so loud. So loud. I'm choking into the black now. I hope I wake up again to escape from this because no one's going to save me except Bridget but I don't know where she went.

It's morning. I open my eyes and I'm staring at Ben's tattooed skin, his arms tight around me and maybe he rescued me after all and he's wide awake and I stir and he loosens his embrace but not very much and I hit him with my aching arms and I tell him we're not coming back here because I want to forget now, I do, I promise. I am sobbing quietly and he asks if I want to swim and doesn't say anything else and I shake my head but I am led there anyway and then I'm grateful because it feels better than anything else so far.

At some point Caleb comes into the room and stands by the window that looks down on a city of glass and he listens as we don't speak. He has become the caustics on the walls and I forget he is there for the moment as I kiss Ben. He watches when we get out and I am led past him by the hand, Ben's fingers tight against those scars they promised to protect but haven't. I look back at Caleb as we leave and all my eyes tell him is that I didn't forget. I can't forget.

No matter how much I want to. Sometimes.

Only sometimes.

The disclaimer keeps me alive. The acrimony keeps me warm. And Ben keeps me safe, believe it or not. From the devil, but more importantly, from Bridget.

She's an alarmingly dangerous girl.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Black hole Sunday.

Break, break, break, on thy cold gray stones, oh sea.
And I would that my tongue could utter the thoughts that arise in me.
~Tennyson
Last night Ben said that when I had one day left to live I would go and sit at the edge of the sea and not move. For the entire day. I was struggling to do a task in which you list what you would do if you had a year, a month, a week, and then a day left to live. He knew my answer before I did.

It should be so easy but I have seen death that was not scheduled and death that was and the logistics of compressing your dreams into a list and a suitcase is completely overwhelming to me. I range wildly between living off the oxygen of those dreams and pushing them away for their sweet futility. I'm not sure if it's better to know or to just be bumbling along and be wiped off the face of the earth.

The music was missing. Company coming means I don't put on my music and it becomes an uphill battle to reinstate a necessary addiction. And then everything is okay and the confusion stops and I know exactly where I am once again. And I'm sorry for that. The very first thing I do every morning before I press the button for the coffee pot to brew my awake is to flick the switch on the stereo and blow the sleep out of the house via the dial welded on eleven.

I hope there is a song I like playing when I die.

Oh, well, hello, morbid Sunday morning, how have you been?

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Things I can say under my breath but never out loud.

Caleb brings raisin scones and good coffee over for breakfast and wants an update on Lochlan and on New-Jake because on both fronts he is curious.

Well, Lochlan's being difficult and aloof as usual but is still forthcoming with his affection and New-Jake I saw briefly yesterday as he wolfed down a sandwich that he made himself and then he took off with PJ. So....not sure why everyone I am interested in seems to speak of sexual competition for Caleb but heh, may as well milk it and watch him slowly self-destruct.

Oh, stop. Who can blame me for that? He has it coming and I take my hits where I can.

I think everyone has the wrong idea, including some of the people in this house. New-Jake is an enigma to me because I can say that name to a face I don't recognize and it's a skill I will have to learn. I'm aware that Jacob Thomas Finnian Reilly is a unique name (maybe not on the rock) but Jacob is not.

I have no trouble with Henry Jacob, just not with Jacob on a strange set of facial features. It's getting easier. Clearly he is not my Jacob and perhaps that's where the fascination ends. Not to say he isn't a terrific guy, I just have my hands full already with the three different sets of arrogance that rule my world as it is.

There won't be any more. Hell, if I had my way I would dispense with two altogether but the part of me that needs to be arrogant as well won't allow for it and that's the part of me that Caleb adores. The reckless Bridget, the completely ruined Bridget who takes risks and loves so hard she leaves a mark, not unlike the reckless ruined Benjamin that I keep on love support because he needs me so badly most of the time he will tell you he doesn't need me at all.

I don't need to remind Caleb of any of this. He is painfully aware of how pathetic I am. Only I'm not, outwardly. I'm trying to make this new place a success instead of a failure, like the last one. I'm trying to be better and be fun and smart and I feel like I can turn a corner only to find there's a set of hands there that shoves me back to the starting place. It isn't me. I want so much and I can't seem to ever catch a break to actually HAVE any of it.

So instead I sit in tears while Satan evaluates whether or not I'm embarassing him on this day. If I make him look bad I am taught not to and if I make him look good I am rewarded with a taste of what it is I want only I'm not sure and I can't commit because all of these things come with a price and I don't have anything to pay with.

Or rather, I do and I'm not willing to part with those things.

So once Satan is satisfied that he doesn't have to extend any lucrative offers to get rid of new boys he returns to the task at hand. Lochlan. The ever-present logical golden boy who says a third of what's on his mind and we're still all wishing he would just stop being right all the time, his arrogance fed by massive self-doubt because perhaps he raised me wrong after all and a few different decisions along the way would have meant we might have had some sort of Utopian happily ever-after and we might have gone to Cole's funeral and been sad for a friend that died and then a few weeks later had a picnic at the beach and life would have returned to normal with our children and our lives.

So blame him for the mess that I am. This isn't fascinating, this is ridiculous. So I don't have an update on Lochlan, Caleb, so why don't you just go fuck yourself for a change, and leave me alone?

(
When I wasn't looking this morning, Lochlan hitchhiked back to the cornfield and got down on his knees and dug with both hands until he unearthed everything we buried there when we were young. He's brought it back here and spread it out on the table, clods of dirt spilling off and exploding in soft pufts on the floor. Dirt, sweat and tears streak his face and all I could do was freeze. I need to take it all up in my arms and run back out and bury it again but I can't move. I just can't move.)

Friday, 16 July 2010

One constant.

The minute I hit the sand at the ocean all of it goes away.

Everything.

Time.

Fear.

Life.

Just give me that, okay? Stop telling me that's my song. Stop telling me what to do, who to spend time with, who to love. Stop haunting me. Stop tormenting me. Stop judging, just fucking stop everything.

It's Henry's birthday today and you couldn't even let this go just for one single day and some days I wish the ocean would just take you away.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Dinner shift #1 is just about over. Now I get to clean up and await the late shift boys (my favorite ones. Shhhhh!).

Inevitably Satan comes back and ruins everything Lochlan missed.

Sometime late last night Caleb returned to the city from a trip to the hot potato and read my journal and decided he doesn't like New-Jake.

At all.

Fear of the unknown or maybe it was the three entries in a row that sent him over. The others don't care. They find it fascinating the way I zero in on people and draw them out. It goes against everything you would normally expect from me.

Caleb's instructions were to remove myself from the presence of Sam's friends and wait for him to drive up this afternoon. Also he needed last names and as much information as I had on them in order to run them through his ledgers in hell to see if they were on the list.

No, I said. (Now I'll get down on the floor in a ball and cover my head with both hands, but that's beside the point.)

Caleb is simply jealous because when we boil down the mix here and skim off the top, he isn't a part of the collective.

And doesn't he hate that.

I'm surprised I haven't been abducted in the middle of the night only to have my internet removed and then dropped off on the side of the road and left to walk home with a fresh incision where my brain used to be, honestly.

No, there may be some sort of complicated love..ahem..square going on here that you will never understand but aside from that, he isn't a member of Bridget's very special commune.

God, how I hate that word.

Anyway, I gave him last names and birthplaces and he'll simply have to dig for the rest. And he won't find anything I haven't already checked because Sam isn't dumb and frankly neither is Bridget. And there are reasons people are guilty until proven worthy, I just don't need to rehash that stuff. Too bad no one ever checked the brothers-grim, isn't it?

Yeah, too bad. I wonder where I would be right now if I had never fallen for Cole?

Or Caleb for that matter.

You know what? Let's change the subject. I have a busy day ahead of wrapping and baking a big chocolate cake and some folks are dropping by to wish Henry a great day in advance and I need to tidy up a bit and we have to run out and buy the special dinner ingredients because all of the extra people here mean I ran out of things I thought I had handy. Also I should really set up the sprinkler this afternoon because yesterday the children grew bored quickly in the afternoon and so this way they'll have something to look forward to and really I will need to go lie down at some point and close my eyes because I have the sweetest mother of a headache beginning.

I didn't even get into that whole other elephant standing there, now, did I? Find me a way to add some hours to my day or wait a few more, okay? Really they can stuff their fucking man-drama for a bit here. If Lochlan can't control his impulses I will start replacing people, I think. But stuff it nevertheless, because we are standing on the edge of greatness here.

My boy is turning nine tomorrow, and nine is a really big deal.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

(Resistance is futile) A snapshot of dinner clean-up.

You're not seriously going to call me New-Jake, are you?

Yes.

From the big door-table in the kitchen, I can hear Ben's laughter. Or rather, Ben's attempt not to laugh out loud at the obvious awkwardness of the question.

You know other Bens, what do you call them?

Not-my-Ben.

Really.

Yes.

That's fascinating, but I don't want to be New-Jake, I'm forty years old. It feels a little like the first day of school and I've been singled out.

Try and be flattered. It's a very special name.

Aren't they all?

Nope.

I see. Well, maybe in time it will stop and you'll just call me Jake.

(THUD)

Or Jacob, if that's easier for you.

(THUD) (THUD) (Right now, please shut the fuck up.)

What should I call you?

What do you mean, Jake?

Everyone calls you princess. I don't think we're ready for nicknames.

Oh, I don't mind, it's a thing, besides, I think we're ready for nicknames.

Why is that?

I just called you Jake.

I didn't even realize.

Me neither.

That's good then, right?

Yes, it's good...Jake. (trying it on now.) (THUD)

Cool....uh...princess. (he smiles.)

Ben finally rescued us, and clapped a hand on Jake's shoulder.

No worries, Jake, soon you'll understand perfectly why she has the nickname.

Why is that, Benjamin? Do tell. (I flicked soap at him from where I was washing pots.)

You're very high maintenance, Bridge.

Fuck you, rock boy.

And a filthy mouth to boot.

You haven't seen anything yet.

Ooo, I'm scared.

Good. I like fear.

I heard that about you.

What else did you hear?

That you like the bad boys. (He grins and THUD becomes mush.)

Damn, my secret is out.

You're a billboard, princess.

Hey, Bridge!

Yes, PJ? (the volume level in the kitchen only needs a calliope now to complete the cacophony.)

I'm bad. I mean, I can be bad. I was bad once. I...uh...

Be quiet, PJ.

Yes, Ben.

It's nice to have some laughs. We need to laugh more, don't we? Yes, I think so too.

The project boy.

I'm severing the heart then I'm leaving your corpse behind
Not dead but soon to be, though.
I won't be the one who killed you
I'll just leave that up to you
I'm walking on the beach this morning with New-Jake, who told me I should call him Jacob and maybe that would help, and since he didn't know any better I nodded like a child and promptly changed my mind.

In my head he is New-Jake and I resented the hell out of every inch of him and I couldn't understand why. I resented the half-wave, half-straight hair on his head, the pale caramel that fades into dark golden blonde. I resented his eyes, green like mine. Endless, like Jacob's. I resented the way he'd quietly consider your response before he makes his own.

I had a whole list. I could have gone on for days. The way he holds his phone. The posture. All of it. Don't walk into my life and force me to hear your name over and over again. Don't be a Jake who hates shoes. Don't be a Jake who asks hard questions, the kind I'm still turning over at four in the morning as I stare at the ceiling. Don't be here, okay? Just go away, New-Jake. I don't think I'm going to adapt. I guess now I die.

That's what my Jake always said. Adapt or die, princess. As if it wasn't a choice and I had to actually adapt or something.

Oh, right. I do.

Ben and New-Jake get along like brothers. Keith and Lochlan get along like brothers. Sam still introduces ideas or cautions me to stay on the road and not go off picking flowers up a hill because then I get lost and mixed up and turned around and then we're all late and then Sam retreats back to the background. I haven't heard much from Stephan, I think he'll be continuing on in another week, maybe stopping in different sorts of places to see where he fits. One of the joys of having the boys in my life is that they all know so many people and through them I have met some amazing souls. Stephen is one but he just doesn't belong here. And for the summer I'm happy to host Keith and Jake because they seem to.

Time will tell. If I miss them when they go, then I'll have my answer.

Besides, usually when someone seems to fit it means someone else is leaving and I just don't know yet. More often than not it's Ben or Lochlan so I don't want to know yet.

I won't replace people, if that's what they are doing. If that's what you are thinking. Not fair.

New-Jake insists that he was aware that Sam had a friend he held an incredible loyalty to, and was moving for, but he said he didn't really understand how one person could have that sort of influence until he met me. He said the image of me standing with my back to the house, blonde hair and black ribbons flying out behind me in the wind at the edge of the sea will forever be burned into his mind.

(Oh no, please. Don't be a poet.)

And then he stops and says he didn't mean to objectify me. Which I don't understand at all actually. People are objects, aren't they? They are safe havens and life rafts, sure things and contraband. They are emotional grenades and food for thought and sights for sore eyes. Are those not things?

I wonder what I am, aside from striking image, which I think is what he was going for before he went for something else.

New-Jake changes the subject, I'm thinking to take the weird feelings away and instead his history explodes in the sand at my feet and then the tide comes in and washes it away and for some reason I know he is home. Here, with me. A fresh start. A better life for someone else who has felt things people shouldn't have to feel. He is worthy. It's as if word has finally reached the cosmos, Bridget's magnet is emotional in nature. Overwhelmed? Find her and everything will be better or at least you will have Schadenfreude you can swallow with milk. I wonder if I should have invitations engraved? I wonder how this happens?

I'm going to take today to finish thinking about things he said. I'm going to take today to reflect on the amazingly fun visit I just had with my folks, for the first time feeling like a true equal rather than an honorary one, and I'm going to finish up my chores, because it's almost lunch time and I've already dawdled enough today. I need a little extra time to cook, I only have two hands. Thank heavens they seem to be able to hold a lot.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Full. Not full. Fall.

This mourning is cold. Windy. The air feels so heavy, the rain must be close. I untangle my arms and my hair from Ben's uneasy sleep and slip away, crossing silently to the door on the other side of the room. I dress in the dark, fastening buttons by memory. Fourteen. Then eight. Then two. I slip into my boots and cross the room once again. I am followed this time by a little white friend who is happy to be the focus of my time for the next little while and thrilled that the heat wave is finished.

He recognizes me in black. As do they all. It's a customary sight, a cold kind of comfort to see sometimes. A warmth that you wouldn't expect from Miss Spindley-Bones with the soft scowl. I am elated to see familiar weather in a place that still reeks of mystery and newness. I reach back for my hooded sweater. Pale blue elicits a further frown but I wear it anyway since everything goes with black, except for pale orange. Never wear that, for some reason it's awful. Now we are warm and we take off at a clickety-clip down the concrete.

We pause mid-step, in the air, to listen to the windchimes. Oh! So beautiful!

My stomach is empty and I still am waking up with headaches from Friday night's excitement. I need toast and aspirin and coffee too and maybe a little more sleep would be nice. My guests have two more days to spend with us but it won't be at the break-neck pace we set over the weekend as we tried to impart such magnificent beauty on such a brief period. The effect is delightful, I believe we were successful.

Now we are at the top of a hill and I have let off the gas to coast, considering the brakes but only for a moment, there is lots of room at the bottom and we will slow so gradually. I am working hard to keep the transitions smooth and painless, though I like the pain so very much indeed.

What's amazing to me right now is when I am hungry you can hear it and even feel it and when the boys are hungry you can see it in their eyes.

Patience, please. Patience.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Otherwise I can't go on.

Well, now.

I finally got to see Tool!

Toooooool.

Remember, this is my bucket list. I won't be able to hear forever.

It was the perfect show. Tickets were cheap, the parking was easy, the crowd and venue were super-sketch and we didn't have to sit through an unknown opener because of the line-ups just to get in (which! I don't advocate. I've fallen in love with all kinds of opening acts, please support them, they work so hard.) We walked in, got comfortable and the lights went out and they came on. Perfect timing.

I hoped for Sober. I hoped so hard but it didn't happen. I heard Forty-six and 2 live, Jake. I closed my eyes and felt the music. I had the biggest contact high of my life. Dear God, the drugs at that show. These kids are all about endurance and I was fucking toast halfway in. So high. Looked at Twitter this morning and laughed. Going to burn the shoes I wore last night. Might burn the skirt as well and definitely the shirt. I might even cut my hair, that's how incredibly filthy we were by the time it was done, soaked to the bone with sweat, bathed in smoke and happy we finally snagged a show by a band we have listened to forever, it seems.

Am I getting too old for this? (Yes, Bridget, you are but it probably won't stop you.)

I hope not. The sound last night was perfect. Perfect. I could manage all of it and missed nothing.

Next up. Deftones. Mastodon. Alice.

Squee!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Youngest child syndrome.

We've designated this week Parent Week at Camp Bridget. My parents are flying into the city this afternoon. My mom has never seen the Pacific. I don't think she has, anyway. She's been to Spain and Morocco and a lot of the Caribbean and Paris too but the Pacific Northwest? This will be new, and terrific for her to see.

My father has been here on business before but not for a long time. They have a long day traveling across the country, I don't envy that. It will take an awful lot to get me back to Nova Scotia when the time comes. Much as I love my seabound coast I actually despise flying. Maybe we'll drive. Lots of time to plan anyway.

The rules for the boys are pretty simple for the week. No one is allowed to do a shot, throw a punch or cut the head off a goat.

What? I thought they would be easy rules to follow, except that the boys are impulsive and eventually they'll break one or all three.

Since I already get up before five every morning and my folks will be running a four-hour time deficit I can imagine I will be able to post all week but on the off chance I am sporadic with it, this is why.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

So excited I could burst.

Go here.

Listen.

Now watch as I die happy.

PS. We go see Tool this weekend!! If you see us, come say hello. As I always say, Bridget doesn't bite but Ben might. How will you know it's us? I never worry about that part. Ever.

Killing two thirds with one throne.

Keith is here for breakfast, along with um...let's see now. Stephen. Maybe it's Steven. Sam is back. Dylan. Andrew. Daniel, Schuyler, Ben. Lochlan. Also, quiet man in the back. The one who hasn't really said a word yet. His name is Jake and I'm sure that the way I visibly paled when I was introduced made him want to run for the hills.

Keith and Jake are longtime friends of Sam from school. They brought Stev/phen. They want all the dirt on how Sam and I know each other too so, hey, here's some bacon. Everyone likes bacon. Have some. No, have more. No one goes away hungry in Bridget's house.

They are curious about how this works. Who does what? What about the money? How are chores divided? Do we share the trucks? Exactly what's the deal with Lochlan again? He seems like the odd man out. What do the kids think of having all of their hunkles within reach all the time?

Inevitable curiosities when we open ourselves to discussions about the commune (only we don't call it that). Too many questions and I've managed to leave that to the boys to explain while I hide in the kitchen, looking up recipes for something baked for lunch. Like a pie with crow. Maybe some humble-dish. Maybe some pride, too, just for flavor. I feel all over the place.

I am listening to the descriptions and explanations and it sounds perfect.

But in a perfect world the boys would never argue, no one would ever have to leave the property to work, and we would have a huge garden too. Also since it's my fantasy we would have all of Coney Island on site. Amusement is a necessity, vegetables are a luxury, Lochlan always says.

And cake would fall from the sky like rain but only when Bridget is hungry.

Speaking of hungry, I'm wondering if I have room for three more boys around my table on a regular basis. Add in the missing ones and the house will burst, testosterone raining down on us like confetti. I'm also wondering if I can really give this poor guy a chance at friendship, when the biggest strike against him lies in a choice made by his parents who named him. People I don't even know. I'm sure I can, save for the fact that anytime someone addresses him, everyone gives me the side-eye, and I'm convinced they can see my battered heart lurch around in my chest. It hits a little too close to home and I'm surprised by how unfair I feel towards him. He's adorable. For a mute.

Ah, I have found what to make for lunch. Blackbird pie. See, the princess can do this one of two ways. I can draw him in or I can shove him away. Since it's Tuesday and Tuesdays are hardly ever bad days, I may possibly do both. Just to see if he is worthy of his name.

Monday, 5 July 2010

I have the hiccups. Like, very very badly. So no post. I'm just trying to hang on to the darned chair.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sunday review.

Ben pointed out this morning that the only competition he considers real is the ghost in the copper box.

And then he laughed in Lochlan's face.

He tells me I will give up secrets when I'm good and ready and not because the boys demand to know. He tells me everything is okay and if the rest of them don't understand how my head works than it is their problem and nothing more. He tells me I should just delete the emails that scold me and that I don't actually have to answer to anyone other than the girl in the mirror.

As usual, I'm not sharing anything with her. She looks like she carries her own burden. Besides, she's never even told me her name.

Ben puts out his arms and pulls me in close to his heart, squeezing me against his shirt. Kissing the top of my head. My ear. He'll drop one hand down to my face and he'll pull my chin up until it's resting on his chest and I'm staring up at him while he stares down. He smiles at me. Only at me. Then he bends down, gives me a kiss and he's gone again, off to the studio to work his fingers to the bone. I cry out in protest and he tells me not to worry about a thing. Soon. Soon he'll have more time off and we can catch a little bit of a break and spend some more time together.

Until that happens the inappropriate protocol is to molest Daniel beyond belief, to the point where I piss off Schuyler for my impositions, cry when no one is looking because I miss Ben so much and to yell at the girl in the mirror to grow the fuck up because she has it good. I can play with the little bird on the copper box and consider opening the lid with a screwdriver or a blowtorch or something but I don't because Sam had it welded shut and I don't mess with Sam's temper or Sam's rules.

I miss Sam. He's away on some sort of men's retreat for the weekend with his new church group. He figured it was safe to go, figured I was telling the truth when I lied and promised him I wouldn't go to Satan for anything, figured it was a good break from the endless questions I always pose to him. The heartbreaking, unanswerable ones I throw out like birdseed at a public park. Catch, Sam. Tell me why. Tell me how this happens. Tell me God's address so I can go give him a piece of my mind. Tell me what Jake was thinking when he set me up for this fall. Tell me that Ben will live forever so I never have to add to this pain.

Tell me why I'm still here when I begged to leave them behind and go in their places. Tell me what's so special about me.

Sam looks a little bit like that girl in the mirror. A little like Ben. A little like Lochlan. Tired. Haunted. Worn through to the point where the light shines through the cracks now and just about blinds you, as if you were driving into the sun. You can still put your hand up to shield your eyes but soon even that isn't going to work.

August patiently follows me around listening to me ramble when Ben is busy. Holding out his arms and trying to minimize his accent so it hurts less when I ask to be held and not so quietly diagnosing me repeatedly against my will. I defer. I protest. I rail at him to cull up the boys and make a row and I will duck behind it, the ribbons on my dress trailing out behind me as I run. I will duck down behind Ben's back and slip out the other end of the row and head straight for the mirror. One foot over the edge and then the other and for a split-second I will balance on the lip before jumping down into the reflection.

Oh, that's who you are. You're me.

Jesus Christ. You look awful, Bridget.