Thursday, 31 March 2011

Will return on the day of fools.

I am working today at just trying to get well, moving slowly, sitting at the edge of the dark in the soft sunlight to stay warm, walking the dim quiet hallways at the hospital (I was sent for chest x-rays, because this cold doesn't seem to be getting better ever), teaching Ruth to sew with small, even stitches and a better needle than the one she first chose and wondering if the paint all over Henry's pants from his big class project will come out in the wash or if the pants will be added to the scrap fabric pile to be used to make more of the little stuffed-heart garlands we have been working on as of late.

I have hidden myself away from drama but she does not appear to be coming around today to play hide and seek, in spite of my newfound hiding place, out here in plain sight. I am keeping my head down, mouth closed, argument off. I just want to feel better. It's been so long.

So excuse me if you came today looking to see if you could have a peek into the life of someone who overdresses but always in shocking black, throws dishes at the minister, openly adores and defies the rockstar all at the same time, courts the mafia, misses the dead and still seeks the approval of a formal career carnival man before she will make a move, well, sorry but she isn't taking visitors today.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Secondary orbit.

She seems dressed in all the rings
Of past fatalities
So fragile yet so devious
She continues to see it
Climatic hands that press
Her temples and my chest
Enter the night that she came home

Oh (She's the only one that makes me sad)

She is everything and more
The solemn hypnotic
My Dahlia bathed in possession
She is home to me

I get nervous, perverse, when I see her it's worse
But the stress is astounding
It's now or never she's coming home

Oh (She's the only one that makes me sad)
Sam waits nervously at the door but I am busy throwing things that don't seem to want to break and I have no intentions of stopping until everything does. Every toss gets a name or a reason cursed upon it before I let it fly. Every word comes out in a scream. Sam adjusts his vest. Such a nerd. He's holding Jacob's well-worn, fingerprint-embossed, still achingly-warm bible against his chest as if he's considering an exorcism.

Good, I would do the same thing if I were in his shoes. Only I haven't been taken over by demons. I am just angry. Angry in a ferocious, uncharacteristic way.

In between unintentional frisbees, I ask him questions as they come to me. I'm not sure if he knows any of this stuff or not. I do. I'm only asking so he feels less weird. Because weird is the habitual state of affairs in this family, like days that end in y and the heart-shaped ice cubes in the freezer. Next to the little blocky little tombstone ones.

Do you know what color vermillion actually is, Samwise?

Yes, it's an orangey-re-

It's the color of my blood. I laugh, so inappropriately.

He looks at the floor. It's going to be a long day. He tries again. Bridge-

How many letters has Jacob left for me, all told?

He counted briefly in silence and then shouted his answer. I don't know.

How many times did Queen play at Wembley, Sam?

Oh, Bridget, I have no idea.

Success. The plate hit the wall just over the door, shattering into a million fragments and Jake's bible is now muted-black with dust. Sam squeezed his eyes shut but to his credit he didn't duck or freak out.

Next. If you get it wrong you have to go. Why can't we ever act like normal human beings?

Sam just rolled his eyes and turned and walked out as Lochlan was walking in. They don't exchange words, just looks. We've come too far to need any more words.

I sit down on the floor in the midst of a room full of would-be ruin that I didn't have enough strength to break and I realize I don't recognize myself anymore.
I'm a slave, and I am a master
No restraints and, unchecked collectors
I exist through my need, to self oblige
She is something in me, that I despise

I won't let this build up inside of me
I won't let this build up inside of me
I won't let this build up inside of me
I won't let this build up inside of me

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

(All the stops have now been pulled and the train resumes the slow journey around the water to where I am resting, bound and gagged, stretched over the tracks with my knees and my head resting on the rails, blonde hair tangled in the gravel, creosote and arsenic from the sleepers soaking into my skin through my dress.

My eyes watch the stars. My head will be filled with beauty when the light comes to blind me.)

Lochlan and Ben have abandoned me as muse and taken each other on male furies. The most difficult dynamic of their relationship leaves me on the floor dividing my devotions with a dull butter knife, in a block of sunlight tinged a bright shade of vexation. I've been here for hours, measuring it out and it always comes out lopsided and unfair and I'm running out of ideas.

The devil has some incredibly aberrant solutions but I hold no interest in those. He is entertained by my efforts nevertheless.

You can't make this fair and just, princess. No one's going to be happy in the end.

Be quiet, will you? I'm counting.

Monday, 28 March 2011

The noise-canceling husband and a ride in the clouds.

I find comfort in strange places today. In Mason Jar lights and in the freezer section at the grocery store, where I saw rows of teeny-tiny gourmet treat containers, in a new Kleenex on a pink nose and in Ben's arms, my contagious face shoved right up under his chin hard where it burns and where I am complete in blocking everything else out. Sigh.


I managed to either win back some sort of bonus round with the stupid fucking cold I had two weeks ago or it's holding onto me for dear life. I guess I know how it feels. Am now on a hideous poison cocktail of ginseng, zinc, vitamin C, etc. etc. etc. and copious amounts of tea, vitamin water and very good leftover Chinese food.

In other news, the exhibition here (permanent which means ANY TIME WE WANT) is getting a Star Flyer.

A freaking Star Flyer!

It's like the icing on the best cake I've ever had.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

There is a stack of brochures on his desk and all I have to do is pick one and bring it to him and he will make the arrangements.

There is a bowl of sliced melon in the fridge, and half a magnum of champagne, which will be thrown out rather than finished. A large container of yogurt and a basket of strawberries remain untouched on the top shelf. My stomach growls with hunger but my brain misses the cue.

Fresh flowers are everywhere. In the bathrooms. The credenza by his desk. The island in the kitchen and also in the entryway. Those had to be moved and rearranged because they were huge and the spray ended at eye level with me and I feared I might lose my vision. I didn't say anything, he noticed and had it changed.

I was given a key. I already had a key. He is clearly unprepared for the proximity and unnerved by my total compliance.

He dismisses the small neatly print-labeled bottles on his vanity with excuses I know to be lies and I accept them with distraction. This is not a comfortable place to be, in the realization that someone who held so much power is prepared to release me. The white flag flaps violent against the glass and I can only watch it because I don't know if it's real or just one of those things my imagination puts into place to help me understand things that my mind knows but my heart simply can't manage.

There is a difference and it is stark. To me at least.

He is amused by my hands. Rings sliding loosely over my knuckles, my fingers flutter a never-ending ode in air piano. Fidgeting, counting beads on the bracelet I wear, tapping on the table, pulling wayward strands of blonde out of my lip gloss, which attracts my hair like static cling, fascinating him to the point where he sits motionless in a low chair by the window, bourbon in hand, watching me move. Watching my nervous motions. Checking for the holes through which he will reveal my deception or my conviction.

I offer none of either. I am waiting him out.

I can bend him a little and he bends me back. I give up and he moves in to suggest decadence. I pretend to take it for granted and he exudes clear, silent exasperation. He talks to the walls and then his whole face drops when I ask him to repeat himself. He seeks perfection in my flaws as a singular and unfair definition. This is not who I am.

He held up his remorse, looking for a reflection and I gave him back cold detachment. In this light he is not who I want him to be either. This new revelation tore him apart.

I dropped my hands to my sides and turned, marching off only there is no place else to go and when I pointed that out from between gritted teeth, seething with pretend patience he made a call and twenty-minutes later I heard low rumblings in the hallway. He returned with this thick pile of choices for me, if I want them. He is the new mother and I am the inconsolable child and he does not know how to quiet my cries. He is becoming desperate.

Instead I take the flowers from the front hall and carry them outside to the balcony. My heart stops every time I step onto it, more than thirty-six stories high but that's the only coincidence I will acknowledge and I turn the vase upside down and let the water and the lilies fall. The wind does not take them. Someone on the sidewalk below will think that angels are throwing flowers at them. They would be correct.

I turn to come back inside and he is frowning. A misstep. The flowers should have simply been removed, not fixed and returned. You can't fix things when they don't work the first time. You can't make it better and you can't pretend you didn't lose an eye when clearly it's missing and the only thing left in your head is a few pretty glass marbles rolling around in your head.

He is eager to make this okay. Nothing is okay. And nothing he does is going to change that.

Would you like to go out for lunch?

, I lie.

He goes to get our coats. I wonder if maybe I'll find my mind in one of the pockets. I hope so, but life holds no guarantees.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Acoustic pine.

We were seventeen markers to the end. I have always counted. I rolled my head back against the soft leather headrest, feeling his eyes on me briefly in between keeping watch on the road, I'm sure he thought I had fallen asleep but my eyes were wide open, tracking Orion, tracking little bear and the dipper too. The stars were fixed and we were in motion, on a ribbon of black lit by halogen, winding through trees lit by the moon, on a ball that spins so slowly you fail to notice until the sunrise.

I stick both arms up above my head to catch the wind and he laughs. We need Nick Drake to sing us home, I suggest and he shakes his head. We need the peace and the quiet, too, Bridget. I pout but I can play the songs in my head any time I want to, I think to myself and the music floods in, cutting off whatever I was planning to think about next.

The rest of the drive was in silence for him, just the way he likes it.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Endless spring.

We've been here for a year today. And I'm surprised at how quickly time flies and not at all surprised by how slowly I spend it. I have loved getting to know the entire West Coast and the amazing beauty that exists here that I really wasn't conscious of in my visits. It's impossible to truly appreciate how amazing a place is until you don't have to leave it to go home because it IS home.

I love the ocean. I love the giant happy-face slugs on the trees that Ben always threatens to lick. I love the pine trees and the cleanliness and the snow-capped mountains and the cold clear streams that you can rinse your hands in and not have them come away worse than when you started. I love the small-town vibe in a big city backdrop and I love how everything is simplicity demanded by a population that is heading out for a hike and doesn't want to screw around.

The rain hasn't gotten to me yet, surprisingly. The hours may have, as the boys are working harder than they've ever worked before but they're also getting more recognition than ever and they seem a little more at ease now that we are a little more settled and things are ironing out.

I even found a place to have my skates sharpened, just today. Took 3 minutes, cost five bucks.
Then I went around and around on the ice with no gloves on, sailing across the smooth surface of the frozen layers with the cheesy piped-in music drowning out our words and I tried to keep Henry upright when he was determined to keep falling and I tried to keep Ruthie happy when she got tired and hurt her knee but refused to slow down and I realized abruptly that I have certain muscles whose memories are as badly flawed as the ones in my head because they had forgotten how to skate and wow, everything is always new, but you know what?

Someday it won't be.

I really do like it here.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Nerves of Jell-O.

Lochlan has a lower-ranged Fix You queued up on the guitar this morning. I think I might have to avoid him today, too.
When you lose something you can't replace
When you love someone, but it goes to waste
Could it be worse?
I was a slow convert to Coldplay, and while I've barely grazed the surface of their catalogue, I still maintain my position that Lochlan finds his music the same way I do, picking and choosing from among the most profound of lyrics or melodies to augment his emotional release, whatever it may be.

I don't know why that is, I'm guessing it's nurture over nature, as it would make sense that the one who taught me to embrace the music this way would do it as well. And I don't mean to be so grumpy lately. I miss my horses. I miss the beach because I haven't been down in a while. I think I miss new Jake just enough to make everyone vaguely angry and I'm angry at Caleb for forcing this weird formal parenting arrangement on me when what the mediators and the judge can't see is his position standing on my back. I am face down in a puddle of dirty water and I can't breathe because he won't let me up. I miss Ben most of all. Ben works a lot. Madness in artistry, artistry in madness, we have it all covered up here under a canopy of rain-soaked trees.

I get stressed and I start to pick on everything and everyone. I lash out and I'll try not to. That's all I can promise. I will try not to. I won't back down but I'll attempt to look at things from your perspective and you can look at them from mine.

My patience with just about everything was flung off a roof and then with epic, mistaken regret, Jacob chased it all the way down to street level. And I'm very sorry but I didn't have any in reserves and I have forgotten the recipe to make more.

Lochlan can thaw me out with this beautiful song (one of so many and I am only thankful today for the health of my children and the music that people have created that I can still hear) and I will be here if you need me but you don't, because the world turns in perfect circles whether I am leaning into the curve or not.
Tears stream down your face
I promise you I will learn from my mistakes

Monday, 21 March 2011

Sweet little hypocrites.

I am sitting on the edge of a long couch in a Vietnamese nail salon near the edge of nowhere downtown patiently waiting for Caleb to finish with his metrosexual grooming errands. He is getting a manicure in which they do little more than file a few ragged edges and buff and then collect a hundred dollars from him. Four times I have refused to be umm...treated so instead I am listening to the women who are waiting for their appointments as they seem to arrive in groups and I am getting an earful.

They have all decided Caleb is exceedingly hot and then helpfully the shop owner whispered something at the largest group and then pointed to me and a sea of falsely-tanned, overly-streaked blinged-out blondes gave me their heavily-practiced 'disappointment' faces. One of them mouths She's so LUCKY! to her friend.

Oh, girls. If only you knew.

But I did not correct them out loud. I will let them live in their bubbles. I haven't opened my mouth short of asking Caleb directly how long he would be and he responded that I may as well sit down for a moment but don't leave. Fine.

The tanned girls are reading celebrity magazines and discussing other nail salons. They are complaining about the place that ran out of the right color and the one where the water for the pedicures wasn't warm enough and at another place the horror was in having to wait ten minutes past her appointment time and her time is valuable, she had tanning afterward and it got messed up and she had to reschedule for fifteen minutes later. Yet another was downright PISSED because her nail technician got up once to answer the phone and it took two extra minutes to have her polish finished but she didn't get a discount after all that trauma. Still another won't go to her favorite former haunt anymore because their Sex and the City reruns are 'annoying'.

If he takes much longer I might slip off the end of the couch into sheer stupification, perhaps to rock myself back and forth and I remind myself this is why I don't have girlfriends (other than the obvious glaring reasons). Because I will go buy a bottle of pretty color and paint my own nails a hundred times for $3.99 and it takes very little time (Sally Hansen Insta-Dry) and then I have nothing to complain about and no one's going to take my hundred dollars only to make me wait five minutes or force me to endure dumb television shows and gossip magazines. And....tepid water.

I consider that very good value. I just don't understand how you can be so spoiled as to pay someone to regularly paint your nails and then have the nerve to complain that you weren't pampered enough.

I really hope he's finished soon though. I really fear I might punch somebody in the face.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Let me get some things straight.

-Yes, we did see the supermoon last night from the back deck! It came up right over the trees by the road and rose higher and higher and turned paler and it became cold so we gave up around ten. The geese were coming home at the same time, flying in the dark, honking softly. It was beautiful and funny, I thought they were on the roof. The telescope is still taking up most of the back entryway. Something tells me there is more stargazing in our future, now that Ben has had time to tinker with the bolts on it and get it set up just right.

-I realize Ben needs a haircut. Thank you for pointing that out. He's been very busy. However my main goal is to get him in the woods today because for some reason that has turned out to be total and utter decompression for us as a family and we love it. I'm pretty sure the bears love it too, and as we walk by they most likely take inventory: blonde meat, blonde meat, blonde meat, metal meat OM NOM NOM.

-The Lululemon bug has hit me. I don't really like the clothes but I'm dying to know what my ass would look like in those famous Groove pants. It will be a spectator sport too, since everyone else is wondering as well. But really, I can't justify $98 for a pair of yoga pants. Ones that pill, according to the reviews because I wouldn't be washing them separately. I won't buy anything I can't chuck in the washer along with everything else, though I'm fine with drying things in special snowflake ways. So fail but the curiosity remains.

-I finally figured out the #^@%@*# goshdarned fucking curtain tracks. They're I-beam single tracks for pinch-pleated valances. Which means I can either buy the little sliding eyes to put hooks through or see if I can find where to buy the curtains that have the plastic track-sliders sewn right on. You know what? Never mind. You know how long it takes me to cover all the windows in a new house and I'd really like to work with the hardware that is already installed if I can. Yeah...never mind. I need to go to IKEA but I can't seem to drive there by myself.

-Stop with the baby rumors. They don't hurt or anything, they're just so pointless and baseless. I am done. I've been done since 2001 if you want to be truly technical. It's great to get up late on a Sunday morning and find your children in the kitchen making themselves hot breakfasts. Ruth shuns juice this morning and I know I don't have to care because they eat well and I have to know draw on my recall powers, remembering what it felt like to be twelve. We all know I remember exactly what it feels like to be twelve.

-Ben and I are plotting a road trip. I'm excited. It may not for a while but we are developing some grand plans to drive to San Diego and back again. I haven't been so excited about an idea since forever. We just have to save our gas money up first. No, really, we do. Haha. $1.47 a litre!

-I think I screwed myself with this English toffee syrup in my coffee. I'll probably never be able to drink coffee without it ever again. Thank you Daniel, I think, or maybe curse you, Daniel. I had black coffee in a styrofoam cup at a roadside truckstop down to a science and now I'm all high-maintenance again. Pfft.

-I'm going to go enjoy my Sunday now. See ya. Have a good day.

Saturday, 19 March 2011


Ben is playing his guitar. He's sitting at the table while the children finish their dinner and he's playing from memory, his head thrown back, eyes closed. He's taking a nap. Such is life here. Soon he'll be played out and he'll move to a more comfortable chair and he'll motion for me to join him and I'll run and curl up in his arms and fall asleep with my head on his heartbeat. When I wake up at sunrise he will sleep on for hours still.

These precious moments are like oxygen when we have been drowning in waves of obligation.

More distracting things for both of us.

It's the last day of winter. Next week we'll celebrate our first full year of living here on the west coast and I plan to celebrate, because it's been a year of adjustments and more courage and more growth overall, learning how to put myself out there and meet some people and get what I need and find a little familiarity in the face of all things new. More on that next week, not today.

Some winter it was, too. It snowed precisely four times, the last of which caught us downtown on Davie street with a bus sliding backward toward my little car. We turned off into an alley and made our way out of downtown easily with the snow tires no one here seems to own because...well, it only snows four times a year.

In January I wore a hoodie to walk the dog, mostly. I think I put on gloves twice. My ears froze once and the power went out three times, all for less than the time it took me to get annoyed and pull out the lanterns. I opened the windows every single day for a couple of hours, in every room to air out the entire house. When I do I can hear the birds singing. That's how close we are. That's how loud they are.

The ivy never turned brown in the garden. The snowdrops were blooming on Valentine's day. The grass remained green and Bridget learned that perhaps, just maybe, she might never have to put up with winter again.

But I will still welcome the first day of spring tomorrow, for spring brings Easter and maybe just shirts instead of sweaters buttoned up high and maybe the windows can stay open in my bedroom while I sleep and maybe I can start planning for a few more plants to try from the nursery because the ones we have aren't going to cut it.

I can look forward to late nights on the verandah with beer and guitars or maybe just guitars and swimming will start again for the kids and everyone will get excited about fishing up at Camp Crystal lake (my name for it) and boy, I want to go there at night just to see, but the gates are closed at dusk and I have no interest in walking in, thank you.

The big bears and the cougars will return for another run at our garbage cans and soon the blackberries will bloom and fill in the bare patches from the past four months, competing with the cherry blossoms and filling the whole mainland with a riot of pink confetti set against an endless blue ocean sky.

And then what happens?

Oh, yeah. Summer! I can't wait.

Friday, 18 March 2011

A diaphanous cheer (under my breath).

Yesterday didn't turn out nearly as fun as I had hoped. I watched five proposals and only cried through the most recent one (Brad and...Emily? who have already broken up, as is tradition for the Bachelor series and this is why I hate television) and then a call came that said I had an appointment downtown and it was for three. Three. three hours? Yes.



Eleven cups of coffee later and a giant danish and Andrew brushed my hair while I waved him away and I was off with a run in my stockings, a pinstripe suitdress (TIGHT. ARGH.) and my kitten heels because newly-soberish is no way to wear stilettos.

I met Ben in the lobby. He laughed and said sorry for ruining my grand plans. I felt dumb for having such ridiculous plans in the first place but he is working around the clock and we are wasting time as fast as we can.

Yes, so anyway. The meeting went very well and then all of it turned out to be for naught this morning when Caleb found another way around me, as usual. While I am busy charming the front lines and melting hearts with my vulnerability, Caleb is chewing the skin off my back, exposing raw nerve endings to string up and pull tightly into bows until I scream with rage and pain.

(Why, yes, we have a very cordial relationship. Why do you ask?)

In any event, we will do what we need to do and get where we're going and muddle through like we always do. Plans are still in place (aka can't talk), Ben is still spending every waking hour trying to find a way around some things that seem to be carved in stone but may have been spray-painted on after all, and I have a tiny ace up my sleeve in that one of the horses Caleb sold did not belong to him and so boy is he in trouble and he's going to have to answer to Nolan for that.

And Nolan thinks all of this is bullshit as it is, he has no time for Caleb's rich-man games of cat and mouse and he wishes Jake was still alive because Jake did pretty well at deflecting Caleb and I know Caleb was afraid of Jacob in a way he should be of Ben, but isn't. Why? He's already been inside Ben's head and he knows where the weak spots are. There aren't very many but the ones that exist are profound and frightening and wouldn't you know Caleb would exploit them to get to me. Only I won't have that and so I give Caleb whatever he wants and he'll leave Ben alone. He'll leave Lochlan alone.

Oh, he won't leave me alone, though. In case you thought I would write that next.

Nope. You see, when Cole died I didn't do the one thing Caleb thought I would. I didn't cancel my plans to get on with my life. Caleb expected me to stop moving forward and hunker down and take solace in the fact that I was still irrevocably tied to Cole, that the fact that we hadn't actually managed to start divorce proceedings yet would give me comfort and I would spend the rest of my life taking Caleb's guidance and deferring to him, as things should be.

And I didn't. Boy, didn't I EVER.

I didn't give him the time to move in and take over and somehow fix the past and engineer my future on my behalf and well, Jesus H. Gotta pay for that now too.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Herrings in a crimson hue.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

My own personal saint Padraig (PJ!) is sick today and has not ventured out of his boathouse cave (though I've had several SOS texts), and so Daniel and I have retired to Daniel and Schuyler's bed to pour the rest of the Baileys into our coffee, eat all the cupcakes iced in green and alternately play U2 and snark at the canned proposals from all fifteen seasons of The Bachelor.

Hopefully by lunchtime we will be positively shitfaced but in my experience life just never gets that good, now does it?

P.S. Duncan, we saved you a spot. Bring more cupcakes though. Daniel can shove them into his face whole. Amazing what being Ben's little brother can do for one's appetite. Could be worse, at least he's never tried to take a bite of my Macbook.

See ya. Have fun. Avoid the green beer, it's lethal. Okay, by lunch? I meant breakfast. Clearly. Here, maybe he should eat the laptop after all.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


(In my rush to ignore the front lawn that faces the woods and focus on the orchard, the grapevines and the Pacific ocean in my backyard, I failed to notice the two beautiful cherry trees that flank my front walk. All I saw were some sort of previously-bloomed trees when we moved in, I figured early Dogwood, maybe Magnolia if I was very lucky indeed but lo and behold they are baby-pink cherry blossoms and they are EVERYWHERE.)
Here we are with your obsession
Should I, could I

Heave the silver hollow sliver
Piercing through another victim
Turn and tremble be judgmental
Ignorant to all the symbols
Blind the face with beauty paste
Eventually you'll one day know

Change my attempt good intentions
Limbs tied, skin tight
Self inflicted his perdition
He bent down and smoothed my hair back. I think he wanted to see my face. As soon as I felt his eyes fall on my skin I mouthed a curse at him, sure he got the message without a sound. I failed to stand however. I'm going to remain here, crouched in the corner of a dark room with my back to the world until something changes. Only I can't do it in these heels forever. I'm going to have to change my shoes. And the bones of my corset are digging into my flesh and really people should only pull petulant stunts such as these in pajamas.

But I don't have any pajamas.

And so I will do it in full graveyard dress. Sped up and full of film grain, you'll get bored easily and turn off the projector and walk out of the room, leaving the curtains drawn and the air heavy with cigar smoke.

(I'm already dead.)

I did not say that out loud either but he responds as if I have.

Not true.

I nod, slowly. Tears are dripping off my chin, mascara mixed with salt forming cloudy pools on the floor all around me. Soon I will be Alice in the drowning pool. I cast my gaze around for some cookies to eat in order to grow big but let's face it, magic isn't going to save me now. When confronted with a stressful choice I pick the inappropriate choice every single time, as if I am bound and determined to make things more difficult than they have to be.

Yes. You could have been a trophy. You could have been paraded around the world collecting admiration. You could have been fed. You could have been given the best of everything. You could have let your secrets go, and let the chips fall where they may instead of trying to arrange them in the shape of a heart and you could have been mine.

But instead you gave everything to my brother.

This time I nod. I know all this. This is nothing new. I rise up onto my toes in an effort to make my imprint even smaller. At this point I could disappear into his open hand and no one would ever find me but today is not going to play out that way. The strip is flapping off the feeder and no one recognizes the family in these home movies.

(Stop reading my mind.)

But it's so...entertaining, Bridget. As is how when pushed you run straight to me. That touches me. He pulls me up with one hand and I am wedged in between him and the wall. Flames lick up my limbs. It burns. The blue in his eyes is cool and I dive inside before I can be scarred from heat. Sweet relief.

A knock on the door startles him to the point where he loosens his grip and then turns back to give me a look. A look that says put on your public face, we have company and I wipe the backs of my hands across my cheeks and sniff and turn to head for the bathroom to wash my face before anyone can see me.

I am too late and now must present myself in this decorum, which is none at all. Caleb walks back into the room and gestures toward me. Then he steps aside and Cole is standing in the doorway. Relieved that I have been found. An odd emotion for him, considering when he is painting he has a tendency to hand me a twenty-dollar bill and tell me to go find PJ or Christian to take me out for a coffee, that I shouldn't bother him anymore, that he knows I'll turn up sooner or later.

Cole crosses the room to me quickly.

What's wrong? He takes my hand and turns to block me from Caleb. He's standing in front of me and facing Caleb down and I don't really understand why the conversation Caleb and I have at least once every single month is suddenly front page news.

Nothing. I'm fine. Just a momentary lapse.



I'll take you home. You need sleep.

I nod and defy Caleb to read my mind this time. Cole's false concern is a mask he wears for the benefit of his friends. Everything is just bullshit and I am knee-deep. He knows damn well his brother has caught on and he knows Caleb doesn't like what he's seeing. He knows his days are numbered and he knows it isn't Caleb who will reap the rewards when I finally find the courage.

The film is changed and suddenly the faces are familiar again. Happy, smiling, fake. Comfort in assumed roles, succor in experience. Nightmares in my future. As we leave I am careful not to place myself directly between them. There's a reason for that. I wave my hand in front of my face to dissipate the cloying cigar smoke and I try to pretend that Caleb can't bring me to tears with his stupid uncanny ability to read my mind as easily as his brother transcribes my heart.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The angel of Highway One.

Jacob is watching me as he stabs the few potatoes left on the plate. He still has his boots on. They're leaving puddles under the table on the tiles. He did take his coat off, however. His collar is standing up, along with his hair, and his sleeves are rolled up. Dinner is serious business. Abandon all pursuits and appearances and dig in.

He points his fork at the radio on the counter.

Want to turn that on for the news, why don't you, Piglet?

No, I don't like the news, Jake.

He shoots me a look of affectionate disdain and impales another piece of potato. He is talking with his mouth full. I can hardly understand him between the food and the heavy Newfoundland accent.

Current events are necessary, Bridget. You need to keep up with what's going on in this world.

At least that's what I think he said.

Maybe the world should keep up with me.

I think it already does.

Good, then. We won't have any more problems.

He laughed loudly and pushed back from the table, finishing a beer in one gulp and standing up. He gathered his dishes and brought them to the counter, turning on the hot water.

I can do those, Jacob.

So can I, piglet. He smiled at me as he poured a little soap into the sink and washed the dishes efficiently, putting everything in the rack. I always forget Jacob was a bachelor for so long and a very good housekeeper besides. Except for the glasses. When he puts the glasses away they are right-side up. I always put them away upside-down. I don't know why but I like my way better.

Want to keep me company in the garage?


Get yer coat.

I went to the back porch to collect my coat and Jacob headed down the hall to the guest room to ask Lochlan to keep an ear out for the children, that we might go for a little drive. I didn't hear the response but Lochlan does not have any problems with that. After all, he is currently living here rent-free and so I'm going to take full advantage of him the same way I have perpetually since 1983. He owes me, but for what I can't articulate anymore. It's been too long.

I follow Jacob out through the snow into the dimly-lit garage. He fires up the work light and opens the hood on the Chevy. It's my truck. It's a rusted albatross and an impulsive hunk of waste. It will never run the way I imagine it does in my head as I rumble down the highway firing on hopes and sketchy mechanical skills and a CAA card clenched tightly in my fist knowing full well that every man I know will be positively incensed if I called for roadside assistance from a company instead of calling one of them.

Not like I'm allowed to drive it on the highway here anyway. Here the highway is an infinite ribbon that leads to nowhere after hours of white-knuckle white-out navigation. It is a drive through hell and back out the other side, as we have checked out of civilization and are living in an alternate reality. Lochlan says every time he drives from here to Toronto that he think he has somehow missed the city because it's just nothing but highway for so many hours it's stupid and we really should move already.

Jacob breaks the news to me. She's never going to run well, or run like I am used to with his Ram. Or even the Suburban. She is on life support and everyone has signed her away. We should pull the plug. I am stubborn and I say no.

Jacob is exasperated with my recalcitrance and begins to yell. I should just listen. Maybe he does know better. Maybe I should step back and let someone who is unbiased give me some guidance. Well, shit, he's put on his preacher digs and I'm getting a lecture only it's cold and I thought we were going for a drive.

Objective? Snort.

I pull up the garage door. It takes more strength than I actually have but I'm mad. It flies up easily with a loud clang and Jacob looks up. I walk around and get into the truck and I fire it up. On the third try it actually starts and Jacob begins to walk around to my side just as I throw it into reverse.

I ignore him and back out. On the way I hit the mirror on the door frame and the garbage at the end of the driveway.

He is still yelling but the window is up and I can't hear a word. Good. It's just another lecture anyway about how independence isn't necessary and I should just mind him because he knows better and I'm wondering how I manage to collect these men who think they can just run the show and what it is about me that makes them just take over and do everything?

I drive until I hit the edge of town and then I turn left toward Lochlan's highway of hypnotism, the ribbon that chokes off my escape and lulls me into an endless field of nightmares.

I've never been on this road before, but the first rule of decision making is to just pick something. And left is East. East is never a bad decision.

Except when I turn I pull off into a gas station (fill 'er up, just in case) and I turn off the truck. It doesn't start again because he was in the middle of fixing it and boy, look how foolish I am, just making sure I confirm it for all, with my impulsive actions and rash moments because I never learned how to deal with frustrations and it's some sort of wild instinct that sends me into a spiral and they know how I am better than I do so I won't even try to understand it.

A knock on the window makes me jump out of my skin. Lochlan is there. His truck is idling beside mine. Jake is using his old trick. If a dog runs away you don't chase it or it will just run further. I am the most unloyal pet ever, I guess.

Come on. We'll come back and tow your piece of shit home tomorrow.

I swear. Every bad word I know. I hit the steering wheel for emphasis once or twelve hundred times. Lochlan nods and waits.

You done? Because you make him fucking crazy. Just like you did to me.

You're still here.

Tell me about it. You know, Bridge, I fucked up a lot. More than anyone. But Jacob doesn't deserve to have to deal with the fallout from that.

Then maybe you should apologize to him, because you did this. You and Caleb and Cole. I could have been a normal human being but I'm fucking not, am I?

He doesn't speak to me for the trip home, except to tell me the headline that will be spoken on tomorrow's news report will be something like this:


The paper has the same headline every day. And as I'm falling asleep in the truck on the way home beside Lochlan, I remind myself to get another bag of potatoes. Jacob averages ten pounds a week, by himself.

That can't be normal either.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Words like violence break the silence
Come crashing in into my little world
Painful to me, pierce right through me
Can't you understand, oh my little girl?

All I ever wanted, all I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

Vows are spoken to be broken
Feelings are intense, words are trivial
Pleasures remain, so does their pain
Words are meaningless and forgettable
I'm really disappointed. I thought I could go to the man who bought my horses and buy them back for more. Apparently I can't.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Blameless (I can see the moon and it seems so clear).

Lochlan has my hand in both of his. He won't let go, clutching it against his chest, thumping it for emphasis. He's been shouting at Ben for the better part of the afternoon, in between everything else. PJ has tried to calm him down without infringing on our issues but it's a moot point. Everyone has a say, it seems, and none of it is good.

Last night I left my regret in Caleb's hands, my hair tangled in one strong fist as he slid his other hand across my throat and over my shoulder, pulling me closer to him, breathing me in with palpable relief. It's been a long time. I did not resist. I only did what he expects and Ben watched quietly from the balcony, smoking cigarette after cigarette in the pitch black night tinged with a yellow glow from the ambient city lights in the rain.

I listened carefully as Caleb whispered urgently against my ear, I played along as he instructed and I knew that all I had to do if he went too far was scream and everything would be okay because there is no way in hell Ben is going to let Caleb have more than this night. He doesn't get my life. He doesn't get my heart. What he gets is something different. I call him Cole and he responds in kind and the homesick chill bleeds out of my veins in a rush. The relief of being in Caleb's arms is a sick covert thrill I will fail to acknowledge properly because it's reprehensible. But here it is now again, just like the endless rooftop lights of the glass walls he calls home now.

He rises and pours three glasses of red wine, taking one out to Ben. Ben sets it on the table and ignores it. It was still there when I woke up this morning, tangled in limbs, my hair tightly wound around Ben's fingers instead, holding my place in the night.

My head pounds. My skin is raw and flushed. I have forgotten where we are.

Contrition comes flooding back in along with the muted sepia morning light. Caleb is in the kitchen pouring coffee now instead of wine. He is casually dressed in what I call his driving clothes. Black chinos and a white t-shirt. He'll add a black fleece jacket and his sunglasses (rain or shine) and he'll begin to glower now gradually as the day progresses, lifted only by a visit with the children and then a return to the realization that he has begun to wait again for the next time Benjamin surrenders to my pressure when confronted with the perfect chance to turn back time. When reminded that it's not only me we are saving.

These ideals are not shared across the board, obviously and here comes Mr. Outrage to rile against Ben, layering blame upon him until he is buried. Ben who is still working to untangle the mess that Lochlan made so long ago but sometimes Ben is human, easily swayed by his pretty girl and when am I not human? There we were on the balcony, whispering quietly beforehand. Feverishly, in order to ascertain whether we should just cancel this and leave. No harm done. Bridget remains intact.

No, we're here. On with it. I make the decision with my last measure of courage in the face of evil. I talk Ben into things he isn't comfortable with because I know he will come around. At least I hope he will. Life holds no guarantees now, does it, Princess?

If Lochlan thinks we have any less doubt then he is dead wrong. If he thinks I can ever change he is also dead wrong. If he thinks Ben is going to change and become more like Jacob, or worse, more like Lochlan, then he's so wrong he's beyond dead and back to life in a zombie-shuffle-fight-to-the-bitter-end.

When I am moved in the dark, my head hanging upside-down off the edge into the lights while Caleb's hands slide around my neck once more, I see Ben look away briefly. I see him put his hands up to his face as if he is horrified by what he sees and then I see him drop his shame on the floor beside his dignity as he chooses from among his various degrees of excitement instead. And I smile inside my head. In a moment he will come inside. In a moment the guard will change. In a moment I will be liberated from my transgressions. In a moment I will be safe. The homesick will slide back in around my shoulders to complete his embrace but I will be safe.

As Caleb was leaving tonight from his brief stop to see the children, I walked him out to the front hall. We were still talking about Henry's report card as if nothing ever happened. As if there is no abject chronicle written of our lives thus far and he abruptly tells me he has sold the horses. That he had an opportunity to turn a profit and he took it and if the children miss them we can arrange for time at the nearby riding school.

I am so dumbfounded by this I can't speak as he kisses the top of my head and leaves. Eight minutes later I am still standing by the door, tears rolling down my cheeks when Ben comes into the foyer and asks what's wrong and I tell him, woodenly. I am still numb. I love my horses and they've been sold out from under me.

Just as I thought we had smoothed over the bumpy road we traveled when I failed to allow for a smooth spring quarter with the company and delayed his time with me as long as I could and I worked so hard last night to make it up to him and see that he is happy and leaves the boys alone, this is how I am rewarded.

Business as usual. Only it's so personal. You don't understand.

I don't know how many times I've tried to tell you, Bridget. This is what happens. You think you keep him under control and he just erodes a little more of you. He's not going to stop until there's nothing left. WHY CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT? Lochlan's voice has returned to a low simmer, seething desperation. I try to pull my hand away and I can't.

I'm not willing to see what happens if I don't engage Caleb. Clearly he's adept at removing things I love when I don't obey his word. I don't see why that's so hard for them to understand. If he requests me, I have to go. Eventually. Inevitably. It's not a difficult concept. I don't have a choice. I never have. Just a reprieve here and there, and look where that has gotten me.
You can take the road that takes you to the stars now
I can take a road that’ll see me through.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Cold water pressure.

This morning the bright yellow grey sky heralds summer in a campground by the sea, the cool damp air seeping into the cracks of the trailer but hunger and the need to pee precludes burrowing deeper under the covers. I grab my hoodie and shrug into it quickly while I search for my jeans, finding shorts instead. I pull them on and zip up the hoodie and head outside.

I smell burned coffee and pine trees and salt. The ash of last night's campfire is fragile and has already blown over the grass. I ignore the beer bottles stacked against the steps and head toward the row of outhouses out on the bluff. What a dumb place for them. It's only when you're exiting that you really get a sense of the wonderful view of wide open Atlantic.

When I return to the camper Lochlan is awake. He has his threadbare white t-shirt on inside-out and his jeans on but the buttons aren't fastened. He is filling the kettle for his coffee. I am too young to drink coffee still. His curls threaten a revolt as he smiles at me. He drinks it in one gulp. He's always been a fast coffee drinker. Breaks are short. It becomes a habit.

Want to go out for breakfast?

It's an old joke. We never have breakfast here. We don't have any food. We get on the motorcycle and drive to the diner once or twice a day and sit in a booth with a scratch-polished table and ripped leather seats and the waitress always frowns because we sit on the same side, Bridget on the inside. And I don't speak even when she asks me a direct question, which if she is anything like me, leads her to believe that he is my captor and I am his unwilling victim, instructed to remain silent lest I give away his crimes.

For my compliance, hash browns. And when we leave he'll turn to me, pull up the hood on my green sweater and make sure the zipper is all the way up, because it's still cold, you see. Especially on the bike.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Friday gloss.

This week I'm well on my way to being organized. I have almost finished Full Dark, No Stars and a Revlon Creme Gloss in cherry tart. The kids and I decorated cupcakes and made some plans for spring break and I've been to a birthday party, parenting mediation and a tsunami warning.

I think this weekend we may go out for Chinese food and see Battle: Los Angeles, which I keep calling The Battle of Los Angeles as if it's a Rage Against the Machine album title (it isn't, just close).

I printed out reams of concert tickets too. Rush and Switchfoot, to name a couple. It's going to be as good a spring for shows as it is for films (Suckerpunch, Fast Five, Thor, Super 8, Circo and that's just for a start).

I have stifled memories, burst into laughter and held my tongue, hanging on for dear life, sitting on it, tucking the bits back inside that threaten to stay out, shoving, sweating, pushing and swearing and throwing latches as quickly as I can catch air. That's hard for me. I am stubborn, but sometimes waiting them out is the only way to travel light.

I have listened to the lawyers when they told me not to write about the devil, because the devil stands to burn everything I know and love down to cinders and the only thing left will be a faded poster still flapping against a power pole in town, held fast by a single rusted staple.

I have tucked myself under Ben's arm as he sleeps unaware, putting my head down against his heart, wishing he had forty-two hours in the day instead of twenty-four, and I have memorized his heart beat so I can play it through my skull when I miss him, even though we have grown fresh skin over the raw open wounds of a year ago, skin that stretches uneasily and bends to accommodate his long days and my penchant for using proximity as a emotional weapon in taking one too many hugs from Lochlan. Too frequent and too long in duration, too close. Enough time to match breathing patterns and unlock muscle tension. Enough time to forget that aching wedge with its twenty-five years of moss, rain and circus flyers stacked up, making the weight unbearable.

I have dutifully sat in the desks of Ruth and Henry's classrooms and listened carefully as their teachers assure me they are doing well. I have exclaimed with delight as their marks have risen dramatically since last term and they both are labeled voracious readers and creative writers. I beam with pride. I can't ask for more from them and yet, this is nurture, not nature. Nature does not beget small humans of this caliber and I can lie awake at night wondering if my choices and my behavior stunt their emotions or perhaps set the stage for decades of therapy when they join adulthood and for now, I am content that so far things working out very well, which means I will earn a temporary reprieve from Caleb's ever-present threat of English boarding schools.

I have admitted to Sam that I really don't want the stress with Caleb's company and he arranged for the decisions to be revisited in the fall, on my behalf. I booked Nolan on a flight here for Easter and I spent a small fortune on new umbrellas. Good umbrellas, because when you pay $25 for a single umbrella it works better and doesn't fall apart within days and I can get on board with that, even though sometimes the boys tell me I am cheaper than a tin can in a one dollar grocery.

Hear it with a soft, slight Scottish accent and it sounds better, believe me.

I have made decisions about things I want. Bucket list stuff. Stuff I really wanted to do before I turned forty or maybe just before I die but no one's listening while they decide what I should do instead so sometimes I wait out my own life with the patience of the sphinx. Only I still have my nose. The rest of me is disintegrating in the elements and across the street is a Pizza Hut. It's a tourist wasteland. Come and visit, always remember.

And I'm melodramatic without even trying, as I'm actually rather content right now.

*rolls eyes*

I don't have a coffee craving or a imminent narcoleptic event brewing and the boys are beginning to trickle home in a slow river of beards and total utter decompression disguised in flannel and denim and tattoo ink, resplendent in the knowledge that I still have my shit together. Something I somehow manage to do better than most people, even when I can't string together the simplest of words.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

No one will claim this masterpiece that I found on the table this morning. I wonder who the drawing represents. She looks rather stunned.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Tying up loose friends.

My apologies. I didn't make it back in time to write anything. The day tilted up dangerously on an axis I wasn't prepared for and I hung on with the tips of my fingers until things straightened back out. I don't feel like I did much more than set my mouth in a determined social expression and withstand and wait. That leaves me under the impression that it would be best, just now, if I don't say anything more. Just call the day done and go to bed.

Maturity! A rare thing, like the Aurora Borealis or Daniel singing out loud.


Long gone.

And when I'm gone
Who will break your fall?
Who will you blame?

I can't go on
And let you lose it all
It's more than I can take
Who'll ease your pain?
Ease your pain
I am heading out into the rain to practice scuba driving and also to shop for umbrellas. Because they all seem to self-destruct on the same day. The very very very rainiest one. Actual post to follow later.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011


As per this recent post, I did indeed find a coat this morning. And I learned I can't find curtains at all unless they're very generic patio-door-sized rod-pocket panel jobs in the dullest colors on earth, which is how people decorate their homes, I am guessing.

I wouldn't know. I don't seem to harbor any decorating skills at all. And I'm creative but when it comes to the house I don't want neutral, I want....


But you can't dress a house in circus. No one would come to the show. Boo. Hoo.

I'm okay with that for now, I'll leave everything white. What isn't white is beige. It's so neutral it's Switzerland.

As for my coat, I got EXACTLY what I envisioned in my head. That doesn't happen so often. Visions, people! I have a vision in my head of how I would like this house to be decorated and not a sweet clue of how to go about accomplishing that. I just...well, my minimalistic/proletarian/gypsy formative teenaged/early adultood years preclude the ability to do ridiculous daredevil things like pay $15 for a coordinating bath mat because what a waste, we already have a bath mat, it just doesn't....match, but at the end of the day when death, drama and dues take up so much of our precious time, who the fuck cares if the bath mat matches the shower curtain?

(The shower curtain is clear in the bathroom I am speaking of. I told you I can't make decisions on such dumb things.)


I can make decisions on big huge things.

And so I quit my job again.

You see, on Saturday we threw a birthday party picnic for Caleb, at Henry's request. It went very well. Everyone had fun. (Civilized! Co-! Parenting! FUCK!) Apparently time with Bridget wasn't plentiful enough and so Caleb sent along a pewter envelope later in the evening. I accepted for us (because I am immature, remember?) and then Ben declined for us and we stayed home and made out with Lochlan instead (because I could say just about anything and that's all you ever think about anymore anyway). Sunday Caleb attempted to reach us once more and I ignored my phone. Monday I attended the board meeting he called as he moves to finalize his retirement and I don't know if it was low blood sugar, fear or just general immaturity (ding ding ding!) but I'm afraid I didn't last very long and I walked out in the middle of the meeting and embarrassed the fuck out of him and accomplished nothing since undoing this will take a lot more than just leaving the building, I'd have to spend another ninety minutes signing papers at the lawyer's office. I hate the lawyers. They have no senses of humor.

Maybe tomorrow I'll do that. Today I am busy picking colors for the circus/beach house, and enjoying my new coat and temporary Pretty Vagrant status. Oh, and making out with Lochlan.

Yes, this is totally working for me.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Those are great, princess.

What are?

Your sneezes. They're just orgasmic.

What are you talking about?

The breathless buildup and then climax and then the afterglowish bless-you thanks.


What? I appreciate them, that's all.

Are you that bored?

Yup. Can I play with your phone?

Yes. On second thought, no, don't touch my stuff.

Why? My hands are clean.

I know your hands are clean, but your brain is positively filthy, Padraig.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

The maudlin rum.

One of these days
you'll break me of many things
Some cold white day,
but you're crazy if you think
I would leave you this way

You should wake up before the wrath comes
(me and you) could take off before the wrath comes

And one of these days
I pray it will be sometime soon
On a day like today
you'd be crazy not to want me
to teach you the way
Moments into the game last night, Lochlan skated too close to Ben and Ben gave him a shove that sent him to the ground, knocking his helmet off. He came charging out of the net, fast for such a big guy and the others threw themselves between Lochlan and certain death, since Ben never put down his stick.

But Ben had no intentions of hurting Loch. These are simply reminder knocks. Caleb got his later in the game and I'm still not one hundred percent comfortable with him taking Cole's spot, which was occasional player when enough others don't show, because Caleb is the furthest thing from a sporting man that I can envision unless it involves horses, or perhaps water polo or croquet.

Croquet. Yes, when we are all a hundred years old, the swings will come slower, the insults will be unintelligible for hearing loss and the sidelong glances will be ignored on account of dementia. Who is this person and why are they looking at me? I cannot wait for that suddenly. I will sit under a huge umbrella on an old quilt I haven't purchased yet and watch the waves since they will not change over the next fifty years as remarkably as I will.

Mark this day, as it's the first day I have written about a future action, something Sam is always pushing me for, something I am usually too skittish/superstitious to manage since if I jinx it now, then what, Samuel?

He has no answers. He will, however, have a big smile.

Ben brought me flowers again last night. Huge chrysanthemums, a lily or two, what seems to be eucalyptus and something else, a beautiful creamy-pink arrangement that made me smile, for there's nothing quite as striking as a man walking toward me with a giant bouquet of flowers. I needed both arms to hold them as we came into the house, and I feared the biggest glass vase might not be big enough. He would have sacrificed the water pitcher but my plan was to divide the bouquet into smaller arrangements and have flowers in several different rooms. When I said this he simply said he would start bringing me flowers every night, and then the house will be filled.

Long after we left the flowers behind on the main floor, the dark came to claim his generosities, leaving behind his greed as I was held down, stretched out and stung. Turned raw, made whole, scratched smooth. Worn out, to be regenerated in sunlight for the next moonless night. I fell asleep marveling at how badly my limbs trembled, while Ben slept already, one arm tightly wrapped around my frame, weighing me down against the storm so I could not be ripped away from him by bad fortune. Consigned to a welcome oblivion for two.

Sleep came for me and I didn't have a chance to bring my dreams. It spit me out on the side of the road just before five this morning and as I picked myself up and dusted off my skin a light was shining, just around the next bend. Instead of heading toward it, I walked the other way, back into the dark. Toward the place where I have no narrative to cloud my perceptions, no inevitable death to scare my heartbeats into double-time and no flimsy camper-door lock to alter my existence forever.

Friday, 4 March 2011

On not giving in.

When I returned home, I walked straight into Lochlan's room and dumped out the contents of the bag on the desk in front of him.

What the fuck, Lochlan. You could have said something.

What did you want me to say, Bridget?

Maybe that you were serious?

Would it have made a difference? Would you be married to me if I had produced a ring? Is the ring really that fucking important?

No. I don't know. I can't think.

Right. But thankfully the rest of us still can.

I don't make decisions lightly.

So you thought real hard about sneaking out to go see him tonight. Did you touch him too, Bridge? Do you want to show your husband another set of bite marks and crush Ben just a little more?

The only one crushing people around here is you with the weight of YOUR history coming down on all of our heads. I can't even breathe anymore, Lochlan!

Whoops. Touched a nerve. He swiped his hand across the desk, taking the tiny white box in his fist and he stood up, coming around the chair to meet me face to face. He was about to say something awful I'm sure when we both realized Ben was standing in the doorway.

Hey guys.

Lochlan nods. I run over and throw myself into Ben's arms.

What's wrong.

Caleb had a ring that belonged to Lochlan that was supposed to be for me in high school.


And we're fighting over why he never mentioned it.

It was fifteen years ago, bee. Let it go.

Then he kissed my head and turned and left the room.

Ben is like that sometimes. All or nothing at all. Won't give the other boys an inch but he'll give me miles and miles and miles in between.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

(It's a Heretic's Fork, and it hurts like hell.)

It's Caleb's birthday today and he has a present for me. Suddenly he has all the time in the world again as he prepares to formally retire at the age of 48, not as old as he looks, for in my mind 48 is grey hair and more lines, more acceptance of the way things are and less resistance to stress, drama, life's bumps and jolts.

He is still frighteningly handsome in the wind and otherwise, and I find myself back on the docks for the second time in two days, wishing I had worn a warmer coat today, wishing I had my scarf instead of hunching my ears down into my collar to avoid the worst of the cold gusts. I find myself daydreaming about Jacob. Jacob was the perfect antidote to Caleb and to Cole, by default. Don't get me wrong. The similarities between Caleb and Cole were few while Cole was alive and now that he's gone it's almost as if they have become the same person and Caleb is now some sort of a romantic half-dead historical figure launched into my present to act as a barrier to any and all happiness that I pursue.

He smiles reluctantly and I am impatient. I need to go. I'm not feeling well. I don't want to be alone with him but he was insistent upon a solitary trek out past the boats jostling one another for purchase against the waves. Ben is working. The boys are home, the children are home and I have driven out under the guise of needing to clear my head and run some errands, replete with promises not to do what I'm doing right this minute. Curiosity is my weakness, I'll admit it. It gave the princess to the devil and it killed the cat too.

It probably killed some grown men I know of, but we won't get into that, because Caleb's going to play this out slowly, appearing to have some sort of five- or perhaps ten-year plan to reel me back in. Some sort of death wish, only it's for me, not for him. They're all so heavily invested in being certain there's no double-meaning and no doubt that I am left collecting breadcrumbs all along the trail through the woods and just as I manage to outrun the wicked witch with her candy and gingerbread house, I find myself face to face with the big bad wolf.

He stands too close. I smell Armani and Irish Spring. He's shaved so recently his skin is smooth enough to touch but I don't. His lips are smooth enough to kiss but I won't and he hands me a bag.

It's your birthday, I tell him. You're supposed to get the presents. Henry will have something for you on the weekend. (Henry is plotting an elaborate birthday picnic lunch for his father. We're going to freeze to death but nine year olds cannot be talked out of their grand plans.)

I think this is something you should see, Bridget.

I take the bag from him and peer inside. Ancient tissue paper has been flattened in folds around another box. A set of stapled notes and receipts is shoved down beside it.

Caleb? Why don't you just tell me what it is.

Just look at it. Please.

I pull out the paperwork first. It's a layaway form from 1986. Lochlan's name is repeated nine times. Eighty dollars each month. Jesus. I'm sure there were months when he didn't come close to making that unless he held some over from the winter working at the garage.

There are several blank spaces and still more spaces where the store appeared to make notes attempting to contact Lochlan for a full year and then Forfeit to Caleb C____, paid in full is written in a different hand, dated August 1989.

I'm not getting it.

Open the box, Bridget.

I don't want to open the box. I think right now I'd rather vomit on Caleb's bespoke shoes or maybe run screaming straight into the Pacific but oh, there's that curiosity again and I'm reaching in.

The box is cream-colored satin. Slightly aged but still crisp. I really don't want to know.

Caleb grows impatient and takes the box from me. He opens it and turns it around so there is no mistaking what's inside. So that I see it, plain as day.

A diamond ring. A beautiful gold and diamond engagement ring. Delicate. One of the nicest I've ever seen. And holy, my head is pounding now and I am beginning to look for an escape route because I don't like where this is going and Happy fucking birthday indeed, your present is you get to fuck with Bridget's head a little more. Just the way you like it, Satan.

Lochlan was afraid that Cole would propose to you before he could pay this off. He was hoping to win you back with this. Amazing the things you find out when you hang out at the circus, dirty as it is. Sadly, Cole beat him to the prize, pardon the pun, and Lochlan let the deadline on his next and subsequent payments pass without acknowledgment. He never even bothered to try and get his money back. He just walked away from it all. Isn't that ironic seeing as how he used to be so poor?

I am dizzy and he grabs onto my arm, tightening his fingers around my elbow until I hold my breath. He bends down so that his eyes are level with mine, his nose touching mine. His lips moving and disturbing the air on mine.

You know what the really ironic part is, here, Bridget?

His eyes are so blue now they have turned black but hey, what do you know? So has the sky, the water and the rest of my soul.

The really ironic part is I wouldn't have let you marry him anyway.

Then why are you showing me all this now?

Because he's gotten too close again, and it has to stop.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Galeforce hearts.

Slight of hand
Jump off the end
Into a clear lake
No one around

Just dragonflies
No one gets hurt
You’ve done nothing wrong

Slide your hand
Jump off the end
The water’s clear and innocent
The water’s clear and innocent
I'm standing between Duncan and Ben.

Everyone is facing the house and I am facing the sea, headphones firmly seated into my skull, chewing gum keeping cadence. Codex on repeat. The perfect song for this grey, blustery day. I am in jeans today, tucked into rain boots and topped with a heavy fisherman-knit sweater. It's cool and Caleb invited some of us for a sail, knowing full well we would have to set out early to be back before the storm, knowing that I would never be allowed to come alone.

They think I am too wrapped up inside my head to notice their conversation but mixed in the piano swell I can watch their faces and see their emotions painted harshly on their features, fervid expressionism, responsive surrealism. I want to smile for the beauty of not needing to hear the words shouted into the wind. I am concentrating on the ocean instead. One good wave and I'm inside her again like a lover and it is so hard for her to willingly let me go. One keen cold roll of the sea and every trace of me will be washed away with the high tide.

Lochlan's face is stone. He's confident that common sense will prevail, like the wind. Ben isn't interested in debating where I am or who I'm with today. He is done with point-scoring, done with timeshares and done with the divided loyalties. Disappointment threatens to spill over and slide down his cheeks to be wiped away hastily with the back of his hand, subject changed, subject closed. Caleb radiates risk and thrill like heat, emanating the dares of his devilish side, proving Cole's personality a hundred times over, dark blue eyes flashing as he looks at me, perhaps he is mollified even with my guarded presence. Perhaps he is planning something different now. His hair whips around his eyes and I am grief-stricken by how beautifully Cole would have changed as he aged.

I clench my fists up tightly, pulling them into the sleeves of my sweater for warmth. The chords surge into my skull and I let my head soar across the water. I don't need to be present for their words. I don't need to be here at all.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Okay, stop it.

I am fully aware the mood difference between yesterday and today's entries are light years apart.

I told you my life was a circus but you didn't listen.

I wouldn't make that mistake again if I were you.

For the sake of argument, gnomes, leprechauns, pixies, elves, trolls and fairies all get lumped in together.

I am still looking for a new jacket for spring. I don't have many requests. It seemed so straightforward: black. Must have a hood and at least a little wind resistance. Slightly lined so I don't freeze my ass off, nipped in a little at the waist. Pockets. At least to upper thigh, not down to my fucking knees for once. Slightly dressy maybe.

Think I can find it? No. Something's wrong with every coat. I keep getting drawn to this one charcoal velvet confederate blazer with ruffles which is gorgeous but not what I need, and I will know the right coat when I see it.

Lochlan asks me if this is going to be the green hoodie of 1983.

In 1983 I was twelve (when have I not been twelve? I am STILL twelve) and I had a grass-green thin weight zip up sweatshirt which was pretty much the same as every North American kid ever. The difference was, when I put the hood up it went into a point.

Like a gnome.

Oh, how glorious!

I was a little tiny blissful freaking gnome and you could pick me out in silhouette because of that ridiculous hood but I wore that hoodie into the GROUND and have missed it ever since. I lost it in the spring of 1986 when Lochlan brought over the backpack full of my things from his cottage/camper/room/truck the year he tried to wipe my presence from his life.

You know how this one ends.

Last weekend in the midst of one of our epic arguments he made some crack about having kept up his end of the bargain in the form of a stack of letters. Not just any letters but a letter he wrote to me on each of my birthdays, starting at nine and ending at thirty-nine.

So far.

Only he said that the movie The Notebook ruined it and it seemed cliche and he never knew what to do with them anyway so he just kept them, and look, here, take them and you can see inside my head since you want to so badly all the time and he went into his closet and took down his big backpack and pulled out a green bundle.

Only I realized right away what the green thing was, wrapped around his letters. My hoodie. My gnome suit.

He rules everything. Absolutely everything. I'm going to look like a TOTAL fucking freak now and I couldn't be happier.

And I still haven't read the letters. As soon as he gave them to me he grabbed them back and said he had changed his mind. Hence the endless weekend tears. Another effort thwarted and I am never ever going to get to know what he's thinking.

And now I'll be wondering in green.