They barely survived the Christmas concert, choosing to drop an almost-altercation right between Little Drummer Boy and Jingle Bell Rock as sung by the grade two classes. PJ had a hand on Lochlan's shoulder. I think he was waiting for Loch to explode up out of his seat and tackle Caleb, who sat there looking smug and then when Henry's class came out and sang Caleb looked proud but gave me the briefest side-eye, since I sent Henry to school in a flannel shirt and jeans, same as ever, and most of the boys were dressed up.
Henry Jacob isn't comfortable dressed up and since it's grade fucking six, I'll make sure he's comfortable and everything else can follow afterward. To add insult to injury, Henry's stubborn cowlick was standing straight up, making him look like he fell out of bed and ran up the hill to school without even brushing his hair.
Afterward we went by the classroom to give our regards to the teachers and Henry ran up and hugged Loch and then told everyone this was his uncle (we left it alone) that can throw and swallow fire, that he came from...(dramatic pause)....the circus.
Oh, well, shit.
Caleb didn't react that I could see. He just exclaimed with the kids that it WAS cool and then we made a hasty exit. We walked back down to the house and then he told PJ that I needed to come work for a few hours and then when the kids were done school I'd be free. PJ, who is suddenly my mother, said that was okay while I protested that I had nothing to do and I thought I was done until New Years.
Caleb smiled patiently. Year end can't be done after the end of the year, Princess.
I rolled my eyes and followed him up to the boathouse. Lochlan walked the other way, jamming his hands into his pockets for the zippo lighter to flick, something to do, anything so that he wouldn't blow up at Caleb and get in trouble with everyone even though it isn't his fault by any means. Some jobs are just cooler than others.
And sorry but when you're eleven lawyers are boring.
I remind Caleb that I told him this myself when he started university when I was eleven.
I am smiling at the memory when he loses his fucking mind and pins me up against the wall. Which is exactly the sort of unpredictable violence that drove me to leave his brother.
How much time do you spend building Loch up to MY SON? He roared in my face.
I stare him down. I don't have to build him up and I don't play games when it comes to my children, Cole.
I called him by the wrong name on purpose so he would snap out of his rage.
Caleb lets go and I land on my feet. He grabs my shoulders and pushes me against the wall, pressing his forehead down against mine, closing his eyes. He starts to apologize and I tell him to save it, that I don't want to hear it, that maybe the judge should hear about it and maybe Caleb needs some human being classes because his demon is showing and he laughs and asks me when I'm going to give up calling him evil.
When you stop being this way! I squeal. My voice is hoarse from yelling back.
I think you'd better go. I don't feel as if I have any control right now, Bridget. He lets go abruptly. The last thing I want you to remember about me is something like this. Walk out now, okay? Go quickly, now, okay?
I think I should stay and not leave you alone right-
GO BRIDGET! JUST GET OUT!
And he spun me around and gave me a shove toward the door. I tripped over my own feet and landed with my hands on the glass, still upright. I turned the knob and burst out into the night, gulping in lungfuls of air, wondering where he found all that sudden resolve and then remembering that he's trying to learn how to keep a promise. He succeeded.