I must obey the rulesSeven days left and Ben has lost his phone already, supposedly putting it down on a table at a cafe and forgetting he didn't put it back in his pocket. We've wiped it from here, we think. Who knows, this is the area of the experts, not me. I just get even less time to speak with him now, publicly and on someone else's phone and so Ben reduces his discussions to nonsense like what he had for dinner and questions about who is at the house today. I lie, he lies and we just keep on counting down the minutes together and separately while the elephant in the room gets bigger and bigger. I swear to God it's inflatable and at some point it's going to burst, leaving bits of grey all over the walls, stuck to my hair, fluttering down like feathers from the sky.
I must be tame and cool
No staring at the clouds
I must stay on the ground
In clusters of the mice
The smoke is in our eyes
Like babies on display
Like angels in a cage
I must be pure and true
I must contain my views
There must be something else
There must be something good
Only it would be red, not grey. Elephant guts. My insides. Lochlan's hair. Pick a shade of red. Red is the color of shame and the color of my blood, the color of my heart and the color of my face when I blush or get very cold.
Or very warm.
Loch is so quiet and gentle right now, you would hardly believe it's the same person. Careful with Peanut-Brittle, they told him when they left. She's not sleeping so well. As if he doesn't know this. Ben's face was full concern when he left, masked with artificial jovial anticipation. Fake. Fakefakefake.
But the last-second hug from him at the airport buckled my damn knees.
You can come with me. He whispered, out of range of the showman.
The road is no place for your family, I reminded him, a direct quote the last time I wanted to go and he refused. I stepped back, bitter and composed, all of it a show of my own.
Our send-off on the weekend ended with a massive Fuck You to each other because when things get tough we both withdraw completely. He refused to stay and I refuse to be loyal. Everyone save for us will reap the benefits of the latest war (they call them Bores. B-wars. Ben versus Bridget. The Bores. Get it? I know. It's not funny at all.)
Lochlan went out of his way to remind Ben that I would be fine, and so he also incurred the wrath of all that is unholy and metal. And oversized. Depending on how ostracized Ben feels when he comes home, we'll just pay for this later and play house for now.
Depending on the day Ben either feels generous or selfish and I never know which, I can't set my watch by it, it just flies up out of nowhere and envelopes everything in darkness to the point where no one knows which end is up. This is one of those times. One of those awful, miserable times where I wonder if he'll even come back and he'll wonder why he stays.
And to add insult Caleb keeps sending me messages and leaving voicemails. He wouldn't dare show his face right this second, I might eat it off in my sudden sparks of tiny, ineffective rage.
Have you thought about our conversation? He wants to know. Fuck you I reply. And sometimes No and I don't plan to. When I'm so moved I just write Later.
In a burning building I would save Ben. All three of them are there and I would focus on the biggest. Save him, save myself. The rest are capable. The rest of them started the fire. The rest of them can burn.