Sunday, 31 August 2014

Nothing else matters (if you can't breathe).

Long day at the hospital today because we took Lochlan in around three this morning after discovering he might have aspirated kerosene from his show earlier in the evening. He was coughing constantly and couldn't seem to take a deep breath. He kept saying he was fine but he's proud like that. He said if he sat quietly he would be able to recover but then he didn't and I started panicking.

No one wants to see that ramp up so Loch agreed to be seen.

(And then all hell broke loose as we ran into unexpected legal issues and next of kin issues and we had to call in his parents. This went over well.)

He was released a couple of hours ago. Apparently the fact that he has thirty years of experience in fire breathing/eating/throwing might have saved his life, but he's being treated anyway and will have half a dozen x-rays between now and Christmas. He's taking antibiotics to help heal his lungs and he's unwilling to say he won't do it again, he'll just make sure not to do it when he is tired/distracted/pissed-off.

Scottish people can be so ornery and wonderful.

I'm glad this one is okay.

Now I need to go fall apart. I always think I'm through the hard parts of life and life keeps telling me different.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Strike one.

This trip was tough. I didn't write or say much about it. I didn't want to. He propositioned me almost hourly. I turned him down each and every time. At night I locked my door. I would not eat with him, sleep with him or spend any leisure time with him. I hardly spoke to him.

As a result, we argued near constantly when we were together because he couldn't get it through his thick evil skull that just because he snaps his fingers doesn't mean I'm going to give in.

So he said maybe he should snap my neck instead and hopefully that would get my attention.


I'm still here. Well, for the moment. Reading the paper and seeing the eleventh hour teachers talks failing and it looks like no one's going back to school in three days and I'm thinking I'll be homeschooling for a bit until they do. I did it twice before, it's not that hard. But kids need their friends too and freedom from home and it's always far easier to learn from someone who isn't Mom. We'll review the curriculum and go from there. It better not take long though. Caleb is still threatening to pull them and put them in private school. The one he likes is in London.

I don't think so and so far the judges have been on my side.

Lochlan just needs one more reason to throw that ax, too. Let's not forget he is armed. Also probably more dangerous than he looks.

But since tonight is the final Saturday night of summer, we're going to cast our worries aside and have a light show with some fire throwing and some bubble-blowing (solution mixed with glow stick innards) and turn on all the tiny fairy lights and make some magic. It's not so cold and it could be the last night without rain that we're still officially on summer break to do it in.

(Well, probably not at the rate the teachers' union and the government is going but just in case, let's call it as we see it.)

I'll be in bed early though. I'm tired.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Seasonal humans.

While I was gone Summer packed her things and went away and in her place Fall stands in boots and plaid, patiently waiting while I pack away my swelterweight belongings and haul out jeans, Docs and a cozy long sweater.

I've missed you, Bridget, he says and I smile because I technically hate hot weather. It makes me sick to my stomach. He's so handsome. If only he would stick around longer, keeping me in brightly colored leaves and hot chocolate and the soft pre-Christmas, post-Halloween glow, I might never wish for anything else.

I wish I had known you were coming, I lecture him as I rush around bringing in candles off the porch and putting away water toys and swim towels. Flipflops and summer rain jackets go up to their owner's respective closets and midweight coats and corduroy comes back. Plaid flannel is suddenly not a torture device but a damn fine fashion choice.

Beards are formally invited to grow back and grow long.

Fingers are always kissed and freezing.

Coffee is welcome around the clock, preferably with something else mixed in.

Not like we have to winterize like at the castle with the closing of doors, cordoning off of entire areas and putting up storm windows. Worrying about the ancient furnace and the remaining unprotected windows, tucking just another layer of quilts onto the beds. Finding cats in the closets, burrowed into things that fall off hangers.

No, here, Henry probably will stick to shorts until it snows, the furnace stays off until mid-October and Halloween is coats-optional.

I really love it. I love it when school goes back into session too but they're still working on that.

And I love a guy who decided the wood he cut in April wasn't actually enough after all and he's back out there at it again. But mostly not because we need wood any time soon but because it's best to face one's adversaries when one has a very sharp ax in one's hand, ready to grind.

When my feet hit the ground, Lochlan pointed at them and said, They stay there. On the ground. No more, Peanut. None of this. He doesn't need you. 

I showed him my prizes and still he was not swayed.

You belong with me, he said, and that's all he would say before he resumed making the woodpile taller than the garage. And that has a second floor. And Joel still lives there, sadly enough. I was hoping when I came back he'd be gone.

Ben said to let it all be, that Fall seems to be smoothing things out, that he is such a peacemaker where Summer makes people somewhat crazy and prone to being short-tempered and hasty. Fall, by comparison is chill.

He made me laugh, personifying it the same way I do.

Missed you, Little Bee, he said, delighted that he made me laugh right off the bat. Let's go pry the weapons out of Loch's hands and have a reunion dinner. It's going to be a busy week with birthdays, tonight is probably our only chance.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

What's amazing about Vegas is that if a girl walks down the street in tears, everyone assumes that she lost a bundle gambling. Everyone offers her a few more chips, maybe dinner, a drink, a place to stay, a platitude about how it's just money, tomorrow is another day, everything is going to be okay, etc. until they realize they aren't helping and they fade out of the picture, their face blurring as the next face comes into focus but she just keeps walking and walking and thanks her Gods for kitten heels and empty credit cards and wonders if she should have a weapon so far from the busier areas because the US is different and riskier somehow and then finally he takes his sweet time showing up, telling her he didn't think she'd get that far. She reminds him that she's good at running and he accepts that because it's true.

Then he tells her to get in the car and they'll go home but when she looks inside the car she sees the devil and she doesn't want to go with him anywhere. He never shows himself to anyone else, just her and it isn't fair.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Hard to believe at one time he was one of the youngest CFOs on Bay Street.


He is sitting across the table tracing a steady groove into his coffee cup with his thumb. He's not looking at me. It's a dry cool morning and he is in a long sleeved white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Black pants. Hair perfectly combed but still wet. Close shave. Top two buttons undone so I can just barely see the first letter of the tattoo over his heart.


I sit back in my chair, cup clutched against my breastbone with both hands, one thumb looped through the handle, pretty grey dress into service again because I'm still losing weight and it's a perfect fit when I do with the matching jacket (to cover my own tattoos). No shoes. I wait for the lecture. I didn't do my chignon. I didn't bring the stupid shoes (I walk too much here so kitten heels only) and my hair is still wet because breakfast arrived and I was starving.

He takes a sip and still doesn't look at me.

Why do you come here?

I believe the term is 'at gunpoint'. 

I didn't hold a gun to your head. 

The day is young. 

This makes it harder. 

And if I don't come with you my life is so much easier. 

Are you afraid of me? 


If you were not, would things be different? 


Tell me why. 

I don't want to do this today. 

You're so hot and cold with me. 

I'm like this with everyone. Don't think you're special. 

Not what I mean. 

What do you mean? 

You're...incredibly loving and obedient and then you just shut down. 

I scowl and look out over the strip. It's tacky and filthy. Nothing ever changes here except the names on the buildings, the names on the billboards. The tourists, the prostitutes, the dealers, the mob. It's all the same. The servers all look like they sold their souls so long ago their earthly forms have all but expired, the neon glitz burning a hole right through their flesh, the promises of the next hand crippling everyone into servitude. And bachelorette parties everywhere as if Vegas is the bottom and the only way now is up.

I never had a bachelorette party. I wouldn't know.

What should I do differently then? 

Keep to the rules. 

Who are the rules for again?

He has almost rubbed the coating off his cup and he grimaces like he's in pain and then checks his expression. Come. We have a busy day. We'll get coffee again en route. 

En route to where? 

Funding meeting at ten.

I don't need to be there. 

Yes, you do. You're my right hand man. You call the shots. You tell me if we're up or down. You read them better than even I can.

That's bullshit and you know it. 

Go finish getting ready. We can fight in the car.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Judge, jury, executioner (on my way to Vegas but not for fun).

They've even got a special name for us when we work on the show. Maybe you can guess it, Bridgie. Part of the word 'carnival' is in the name. 

Lowlives. Caleb snorts to himself and opens another beer.

I frown at Caleb. I think I know what that means and it isn't nice. Lochlan touches my elbow. Think hard, Bridgie.

I am. So hard my eleven-year-old mind is ready to burst. Ummmm...carnivores? 

No less than three of them spit mouthfuls of beer into the bonfire. Christian rolls onto his side. That's the best answer I've ever heard, Bridget. He says.

I'm not sure if he's making fun of me or not. I look at Lochlan, waiting for the correct answer.

Carnies, Bridgie. Want to come be a carny with me? 

Yes, I do. 

Too bad you're too young, Caleb kills the conversation completely. I frown because he's right.


He had the plane stocked with Pellegrino, blueberries and lime (for him) and coconut water (for me). A glass was poured for me and I took a huge gulp and thought he had finally succeeded in poisoning me without bothering to make it taste good.

My face said it all.

What's the matter? I thought you loved the stuff. 

I don't even know what this is! Oh, it's plain. 

What do you mean?

I only like the Del Monte pineapple kind. 

I wasn't aware there were differences. 

Try it.

He takes a sip and makes a face.  I'll make a note of it.

I bet you will. 




What is that? 

My lucky bracelet. 

And where did you get it?

Loch made it for me. I beam with twenty-one-year-old pride.

Caleb frowns. Where did he make it? 

In the last campfire on the last show. (with a hammer and a piece of old copper wire, he engaged in a little portable blacksmithing, is what he did.)

I see. It's not something that you wear to a place like this, Bridget. 

My personal jewelry isn't up for debate, Cale.

Your attitude is. I can take you to Cartier after lunch. We'll get you a proper one. 

So I'm not good enough for Vegas suddenly? I thought it was the other way around.

He grabs my elbow and squeezes it so hard my knees go to liquid. No, I simply don't need any visual reminders that I brought a lowlife to such a high end spot. 

I yank my arm out of his hand. Should have brought someone else then.

I don't want anyone else. 

Then look at it because I'm not taking it off. 

(In the end he took it off me, pinning me down and making sure I couldn't breathe until I stopped fighting. Business as usual. I never got it back. Maybe I'll ask about it today. Maybe when he's pinning me down. Full circle and all that.)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Softly, now.

Ben's not having a good morning. I left him in bed with the tangled sheets and the curtains drawn tight, kissing his cheek firmly, whispering that I would be home right after church and we would go for a walk on the beach and make really fancy coffee in the good cups.

He squeezed my head very hard and nodded and drifted off again. A lot of things have forced him out of his comfort zone lately. Workwise and here at home as personalities clash and he forces back out in front. He would rather disappear most of the time and let his work speak. I think he learned that from Cole.

But people go through stages and God doesn't make anyone bland. Emotions are the roller coasters of the mind, the heart beats and waves and pumps are the life force and everything runs along barely regulated or patterned, instead forging ahead in a haphazd lope across one's life, intersecting with others, adopting their rhythms and fears. Absorbing their feelings whether they want to or not.

Life is not easy.

And so when I came home I pulled my church dress over my head, trading it for a soft vintage Annihilator t-shirt and pink underwear and I crawled back into bed beside him and when my stomach growled he opened his eyes and said,

My little noise monster came back.

I came back. For you. 

He burst out laughing. My lines were from House of Flying Daggers. I answered him in Mandarin, just like in the film. Impulsive to a fault.

I love you, Bridget. You make me laugh. 

Good, then please take me to breakfast?

I have to get up?

I want one of your fancy breakfasts. 

This is my day off to be home all day and not have to go out. 

Well....tough. Hash browns! Sourdough toast! Baaaaaaaaacon.

He rolls up on one elbow and dials a number.  After a minute he gives his name and asks for someone. Then he asks if he can have two meals delivered and he repeats our address and gives the guest code for the gate.

Twenty minutes later he goes downstairs in his pajama pants and comes back up with two waxed boxes and two coffees. Breakfast picnics in bed are better than pizza in bed. I have a plastic fork in my hand, egg yolk in my belly button and bacon in my hair.

He dials once again and tells Loch to come up for leftovers. I hit him with my pillow and he pins me there until Loch walks in, already laughing.

Oh, Jesus. What a mess. 

Mm-hmm. She's delicious. 

Anything wrapped in bacon is delicious. 

And she speaks Chinese! 

That a feature or a bug?

Oh, I don't know, Brother. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

On catching the Zs and then releasing them.

One of the downsides of being a tiny narcoleptic who loves to hide away from the world is that sometimes the world panics when they can't find her after hours of texting and searching and calling.

My phone was in the pocket of Ben's shirt from yesterday. My hearing aids still in my handbag and my eyes closed tight. I missed lunch. I missed Lochlan's complete meltdown and Ben's weird self-reassurance that I probably went for a walk. I was told they searched all six buildings, all vehicles, the beach and the boat and were on the verge of calling the police when I staggered back into the kitchen half-awake. I sometimes lie down for a minute wherever I can. I fall asleep in seconds during life but never when I'm supposed to. There is no privacy sometimes and I just want to withdraw a little. Plus I get so tired during the day but at night the worries take turns shaking me awake. I will curl up here or there for what seems to be five minutes to my sleeping mind but to them is an entire day.

A stressful one.

The threat is that I am to be microchipped, like the dog. Good. Does that mean no one will wake me up with the yelling and slamming doors?

Friday, 22 August 2014

Might sell my soul for that car.

(If it were still mine to sell, I suppose.)

I rendered the Devil speechless with my gesture. He took one step into the salon, saw all of the blue and sat down on one of the chairs.

My brother's eyes. You honored him with this. 

No, I honored you with this. I stand on deck, just outside, hands clasped in front of me, shoulders rolled in. I can be kind. I can try to make things easier.

He went down to the lower deck and found more of the blue in the cabins and the stateroom and came bounding back up the steps, the biggest, sweetest smile on his face. He looks so happy. He looks so young when he smiles. He stood right in front of me. Still smiling.

I can't believe this. Why did you do this?

You asked me to have the upholstery changed because it was boring. 

You took quite a chance. 

What do I have to lose? 

If you had made everything red I would have drowned you on the spot. He talks first and thinks second and I turn to go because fuck this.

I'm sorry, Bridget. But knowing you it could have gone that way. 

You wouldn't touch me. 

I would have made you change it back at your own expense. 

Speaking of which, you haven't paid me yet. 

Right. Come with me, we'll head out now and I can stop at the bank. He holds out his hand.

I hesitate.

Just come. Maybe there will be a surprise bonus involved.

There was. A drive all the way to Whistler in the R8 for a waffle cone full of Fluff N' Udder from Cows. Because I'm even easier to please than he is lately.

Your revelation. 

Yes. The one I should have kept to myself?

The very same, yes. I was wondering if you ever thought about it from my perspective. 


Maybe Cole was using you to fund our life together. Taking advantage of your grand scheme to keep us afloat so he could paint instead of waste time working. Maybe you were the one who was fooled. 

So you think he loved you?

Yes. I do. Who doesn't? Why would he remain immune even as everyone else falls? I don't buy your explanations because I lived with him. I spent my life in his arms. I looked into that blue. I knew him better than you did. 

Then I was taken advantage of. 

I bet that happens a lot. 

I bet it happens less than you might think, Neamhchiontach. How is your ice cream? 

Delicious. Do you want a taste?

The look he shot me gave me an ice-cream headache. He didn't waste any effort trying to obscure the meaning or appear proper.  I knew the answer without his needing to say a word.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Busy being productive, busy running away within myself.

The downside of living with an introverted, solitary, melancholy-millionaire is that he has a boat he doesn't board unless I go with him. A boat he never takes out, maintained with the detachment of someone who doesn't know how to relax and therefore gets little value from.

On the upside I have discovered the engine room on the boat is the perfect place to hide. No wonder they freak out and consider me drowned in the sea every time they can't find me. I leave messages for the kids. I don't for the adults. Ruth sometimes brings her sketchbooks down and spreads out on deck with her charcoal and headphones. Henry plays video games in the salon.

Not sure what the fuss is. If we still had a treehouse I'd be in that instead. The boat is as close to a treehouse as we will get here.

Because bears.

I had all of the upholstery and linens changed from their bland gold and tan to a lovely stormy dark blue. It's an indescribable North Atlantic blue, grey-navy, smoky rich. Cool dark tealish color. Cole's eyes.

It looks so much better. Sometimes I think this is my toy instead of his.

And that's fine.

Maybe one of these days I'll take her out but our cove is tiny and this would be the equivalent of parking Ben's F350 on a postage stamp for me.

(I can't park his truck, when I go somewhere I use a space at the end of a parking lot and walk for miles and when I get home I leave it idling in the center of the driveway and someone comes out and deals with it.

But I can deal with leading the custom upholstery people down to the boat and then collect them again to inspect the job and furnish their departure. I'm good with details and terrible with big pictures. I paid a fortune in extra fees because instead of bringing the boat to them, I had them brought to me. This boat is a waste of money.

As is his costly personal assistant who barely speaks to him.

On the upside I have a beautiful hiding place. Her name? Neamhchiontach. Just like me.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Lochlan has a huge project right now that is keeping him from the usual routine of throwing fire and flipping tables. Schuyler is a taskmaster and keeps wrapping him up in these huge things with nice payouts and while they do keep Loch out of trouble I miss him something fierce. So when he came home very late last night we ordered a pizza and took some cheap wine out on the balcony and sat and stared at each other while we chewed our food.

He cut his hair because it was driving him crazy in the heat. His curls just get flatter as his hair gets longer and so now he's back to his wavy mess but he looks good.

You're not going, Peanut. 

Of course I'm not. 

He'll talk you into it. 

If you think I'm going to a place where they arrest people for holding hands in public you're mistaken. 

If you think you can outwit the devil you're naive. 

Make the wall, then, and defend. I won't go and he can't force the issue against all of you. 

That's true. 

So let's change the subject because I will be safe. 

Okay, what would you like to do? Did you want to watch a movie or something?

I raise my eyebrows and drain my wine without a word.

Oh, I see. 

What do you see?

I see you're wearing too many clothes and I haven't touched you all day. 

Right on both. Can we fix this?

We can fix this. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014





(Also, might be going to Dubai in November. Help me.)

Yawns aren't contagious and that's how I know he's Satan.

(It's not even eight in the morning so this won't be arranged the way I like it but I rounded up my hourly rate for the Devil for my assistant services and he didn't even bat an eye so here the fuck I am. We've hit mid five figures. This makes me laugh. I don't even know what I've gotten myself into anymore that he pays me so much for doing stupid things he could hire a service to do for fifty bucks. Especially since I wind up giving it all back to him in rent and putting what the boys give me toward their share into certificates that they can cash in later, with interest. I'm nice like that. I try to look after them too because they look after me. And that is all above board and has nothing to do with sex, since fully a third of my readers have decided I must be sleeping with everyone. Christ, people. I would have been worn clear through years ago.)

Caleb uses work as an excuse to chip away at my resolve when I'm angry with him. I get easily distracted in the details and drop my guard every. single. time. We only seem to be at DEFCON 3 today though. He's being Charming. I'm being Distrustful. We're using our Words. This Sucks.

I am terrified of revolving doors and won't walk through one alone.

Converting dirhams to dollars is pretty easy and surprisingly cheap, making this trip I'm trying to finalize for Caleb to Dubai in November much less painful than I expected it would be. The Atlantis? Check. Races? Check. Dolphins? Check. Driver? Check. Bridget? Not on your life.

Cookies before ten in the morning? Gross. Not what I meant by breakfast pastries.

Headache? Check.

Coffee? Where? It hasn't been delivered yet.

Idiot wasn't ready when I arrived either. Also well planned. He's possibly the only boss that can spend the first quarter of a workday in nothing but a towel and not get sued for it.

I really have no patience for this today.

He just offered to reformat his Dubai meetings to Sydney if I wanted to go there instead and doesn't get that I'm not leaving the continent with him. Also, you know, I JUST FINISHED booking everything.

Since he slipped that I technically have to sign nothing, I'm back to actually not signing anything and it's nice to just say no.

I do love planning his trips though. Maybe I should have been a travel agent but close enough, I'm a dreamer.

Oh look, fucker can do something. He's ordering a rush breakfast. Finally.

I hate this office. But he hates working from the boathouse so once he was dressed we moved.

I hate my dress too. Maybe light wool before ten in the morning is also gross. So are these shoes. His dress code for work is misogynistic beyond the pale. I should be home in my cutoffs and my Breaking Benjamin tank top. I hear rumors of new music. All the Bens are spooling up at once here.

And the screen on my phone now displays a message from Lochlan. He's so sweet.

It says,


It's so nice to be wanted. He's up early though. I feel like a tug of war. I feel like a loser. I feel like crawling out of this dress backwards and walking down West Georgia naked sipping on a pitcher full of coffee.  I wonder how far I would get? That would be something. Something better than this.

But not right now, because I forgot to block the meeting rooms for the trip. Shit.

Monday, 18 August 2014

World domination on a preteen maturity level.

I remain sweetly satisfied that I gave that horse a beautiful place to finish out her days and am incredibly grateful to Ben for his efforts in dealing with this as quickly as he could. He found her on the ground in her stall (said he wouldn't fall for her and he lied, they all lied and spent more time with her than I did) and the first thing he did was text PJ and tell him not to let me out. PJ then invited Joel over to be flayed alive. Two birds, one stone, they figured. PJ and Ben are quite the productive duo when it comes managing me and while I am blissfully ignorant of fully half of the efforts they put in, I appreciate the full hundred percent.

The boys called the vet, arranged for the haulers and also cleaned the stables once Aurora was removed. Ben himself moved all my art supplies back into the stables once the floors were dry and said we really have enough to deal with around here without having to nurture end of life animals larger than him.

So my plan to create a hospice for horses is not going to fly but that's okay. I like the art studio. Besides, most of my plans get vetoed anyway.

For example:

Let's paint the house black! Like the old one. It'll be great.

Let's set up a trapeze at the edge of the yard. 

No? Okay, maybe just a bungy jump. Dip your head in the sea. 

Let's buy the other eight houses up the road and block the highway exit to the neighborhood and NEVER EVER LEAVE. 

Let's all fly to Australia but just for the day because bugs. Big freaking bugs. I couldn't sleep there.

Let's shave Daniel's head but only on each side and leave the middle for a foot-tall mohawk which would be a great way to relive the 90s when Daniel had to duck to get through doorways.

Let's go eat somewhere weird for dinner. I don't mean A&W. (The A&Ws here ARE weird, for the record)

Let's put two entire bags of chocolate chips in this recipe instead of two cups.

Let's have a horror movie marathon and eat saaaaaaalsa and grapes but call them guts and eyeballs.

Let's stay on the octopus until we throw up.

Etc. etc. No one listens to me. Would you? The only person who forces my adult side is the devil and that doesn't seem to be working any better. It's fine, I don't actually want to discuss that today anyway.

I have today to relax and unclench and drink coffee out front with Matt and Andrew (Andrew is officially on duty in case I crash) and then maybe later I'll paint. Lochlan is working and Ben is working and PJ is still asleep! At eleven in the morning! Because what a lazy fuck!

Maybe I should be PJ when I grow up.

I would totally do it just for the beard. Oh WAIT! Peeing standing up! I'm game. Bring it on.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Ten days in heaven.

Yes. My horse is dead too. Maybe I'm the soul collector. Someone make it stop.

The ridiculous spot between alright and okay.

Destabilized as always yet I am the glue holding this family together with paper-thin wishes and stuttering lights.

It can always be worse. The horse is dying. The Devil? Dying. Lochlan is dying of frustration and Ben will kill himself with work. The rest will languish fearfully for me and myself? Well, I've already told you how I'll go and I'm still almost convinced I will fly off the cliff and drown quickly in the sea but it won't be because I jump. I'm not Jacob and I no longer have the courage to step off platforms hoping for the net.

(Nets aren't real.)

They never actually catch anyone because I don't think anyone ever wants to be saved.

John told me not to go out to the stables for the time being. That the vet is coming back. That they'll make sure everything is taken care of. I know. I called the hauler number myself. They're on standby.

Caleb told Lochlan that it's only a matter of time and that pressure has already cracked me and that he can seep in now and Lochlan is so powerless he's a dandelion blown against the wind.

Loch dug in his heels and refused to concede anything because a promise is a promise and once renewed is stronger than ever. There won't be any big shifts and Loch gambles on Caleb's death being next even as we watch Aurora from a respectful distance.

Because it isn't nice to live with pain. It isn't nice to be in pain and it isn't nice to never have relief from that pain. Funny how it's so pragmatic for a horse and such a blooming tragedy for a human. How long do we suffer? Why do you get to decide how long is long enough when you damn well the answer is forever.

Deep breaths, Bridget. Deeper still.

Joel came and tried to apologize. Tried to dismiss, tried to excuse, tried to repent and I sat silently staring through the glass into the woods and he touched my hand and I flinched and PJ jumped to his feet and Joel had the nerve to ask him if he could leave and PJ said nope and then asked me if I wanted Joel to leave and I didn't answer him either. I just kept watching for bears and for lights eventually as they flickered on one by one, powered by the sun, programmed to come on as the sun dropped below my horizon, as the bottom fell out of my universe and I found myself floating in space again, pinned to one of Saturn's rings securely, hanging by my hems.

It's dark and lovely and quiet now and Joel's voice has disappeared. PJ is no longer there and I open my eyes and find Ben staring down at me. I raise my eyes and Loch stands by the window, staring into my woods. He names the lights, the stars, the planets for me and I commit them to memory that we will strengthen with the glue made of time in our endless late summer when all the things we thought would come together mostly fall apart.

Ben smiles gently and tells me he heard I fell asleep midsentence and that doesn't happen so often and I reach up to touch his cheek.

Tired, I tell him and he nods. Close your eyes, Bee. We won't let the wolves get you. 

But everyone's a wolf, I promise and I'm in the dark again, where Loch unpins me from the ring and throws me clear into the sun.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Shape-shifting dates and comfort boys.

Forty-five days of sobriety and I catch Duncan sneaking in the front door this morning. He looks fucking thrilled and tired but sober and I grin in spite of myself.

Great. Probably the very last person I wanted to see first. 

Wow. Let me go get my phone so I can document your walk of shame here, Poet. 

It might be a rare thing, better do it quick, Bee. 

That good, huh?

I expect girls to be mostly different and usually taller versions of you but instead they're all dripping with makeup and hairspray and questions that seem to lead to whether or not I can marry them tomorrow and buy them trips. 

Where did you meet her? 

One of the AA guys had a sister. She's in recovery a few years. Has her shit together okay but just..trussed up like a fucking peacock. 

But you...managed. 

I did. Then when the sun came up I got the hell out of there because I didn't want to see what she'd morph into in the daylight without all of her decorations and...and....I just realized this is destroying my mythical reputation as a lizard king if I tell you this stuff. 

What, that you're afraid of cosmetics?


I won't tell anyone. 

They already know. I have no need to impress them. I was still hoping to be the cool one around here in your eyes though now that the dust has settled. 

Did the dust settle? You haven't spoken to me in ages, Duncan. 

He scratches the back of his neck and looks so sheepish I want to alternately nail him to the wall and let him off the hook. Bridge, I don't think I want to add any more drama to your life. Caleb seems content to look after that. I also don't want this to be weird. Let's just pretend we're the same as ever. 


It's good enough. I miss you, Bridge. I'm trying to get my shit together again, if you can forgive me for everything. 

I'm sorry I make things hard for you. 

Oh, God. See? There you go with those words of yours. 

I realize my double entendre and burst out laughing. He laughs and rubs his eyes wearily. PJ walks in and smiles when he sees we can't keep it together but we are together at last.

What did I miss?

She don't hate me, Bro.

Sweet times, Brother. But I knew that already. 

Can I have a hug then, Duncan? It's been a while. (I reach up for him without waiting for his answer.)

Yeah it's been a while. Come here. You're going to need an extra pair of arms when that skeleton of a horse drops out in the driveway anyway. 

Wow, thanks. 

Oh, Poemgirl, it's going to happen any minute now.  Sometimes the Devil is right, you know. You can't save anything else until you've saved yourself. I'm learning it, too.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Threats to nowhere.

Can you please make him leave now that you've got what you paid for?

Bridget, you need to learn to coexist with your critics. 

He isn't a critic, he's a fraud and since I don't plan on ever speaking to him again you'll be wasting your time keeping him in your corner. 

I only want you in my corner. 

Tough shit. 

It is, surprisingly. But you're doing great and I want to see this continue instead of the endless backsliding. 

Then take me off guardianship. And leave all of this to Ben because he's done more for me than any of you ever have.

Demonstrate actual change. And Ben has the weakest character of all.

I've been running your stupid shit for a year now. If that doesn't qualify me as independent I don't know what does. And say one more disparaging thing about Ben and I'm gone.

I cosign everything you do. And Ben admits his flaws freely. I admire him in case you think otherwise.

So stop signing. 

It's my money. 

I thought it was my money. 

It's for you. 

Well then take it all back and I'm not signing another thing. 

Then you'll never be free, as you put it. If you don't continue to make progress with me then I can never approve the removal of those orders. 

It's been six fucking years! 

And you're still talking to ghosts and running off and fucking things up every chance you get. 

I don't know how to do anything different. 

I am teaching you! 

No, you're not! You're only making things worse! 

It's better to keep things the way they are with regard to our legal arrangements.

Then I'm clearly too young for you if I'm a child in the eyes of your system.

You always were. Do you think that ever stopped me? You're missing the point, Bridget. You're not well, You probably never will be. I love to watch you test your limits and muster your courage. I like to watch you pretend in front of me because I know at any second I can rip away your transparent little facade and see my girl. At any second. 

Then you just contradicted yourself. 

I don't really care.

Well I do. 

Then tell someone who can help you. Maybe Batman is up for the challenge. Oh, wait, he didn't turn out to be as helpful as you had hoped, now, did he?

I don't need his help. 

Well, Pyro certainly isn't going to help you change. You think I like to keep you young and helpless? Where the hell do you think I got the idea from?

You don't disparage him either. 

I can do whatever I want, Princess, in case you hadn't noticed.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Pedal backwards.

While I was off eating Cartem's and walking a techy floor show yesterday Joel was presenting Caleb with his notes on me. A followup, if you will, six years late. A condemning account of how I'm doing well but it's all a front, fake and put in place because I am spoiled and coddled and protected.

Oh, I didn't realize I was supposed to be drafted to the wolves, but he says I am enabled to within an inch of my life and that Caleb is possibly the worst offender, furnishing me with all my heart's desires save know, anything I've actually asked him for. Not sure I get that part but Joel seems to take special offence to the power Caleb gives me with his money and with my own in the form of the credit card.

He also took offence to Ben's generosity and said I was being set up to have my heart broken again.

Last time I checked, that was called living. If you take the leap you take a chance and you might end up okay but apparently I should be alone, working to provide for myself and getting regular heavy counseling because that's the healthy way. Instead I made a commune, threw myself into a plural marriage and take too many fucking risks!

Because YOLO.

Because dammit, Joel, you aren't qualified to judge me.

Besides, I'm still under limited guardianship, if you want to be purely technical here. I'm shared three ways legally between PJ, Caleb and Lochlan. And I don't frankly care if the greater world sees me as a fully functioning six-year-old. The greater world never did anything but pay money to stare anyway.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics And Interactive Techniques Conference swag.

There's a mouthful, but sometimes I get to go to some mighty interesting things. Today I got my first walking teapot from Pixar! Also seventy billion pins, some of which are storm troopers! I'm very popular at home right now. HUZZAH.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

There, but for the grace of God (go I).

Be my reminder here that I am not alone in this body
This body holding me, feeling eternal
All this pain is an illusion
Maybe by his own recognizance, maybe at Sam's urging, Batman wants a barometer and I'm having none of it. Where was he a week ago? Where was he when I've been hiding in the garage or the library watching my mind squeeze through the cracks in the floorboards and soak into the bedrock?

I've destroyed Caleb's work, I've failed at being trustworthy and oh, yeah, I found my Lateralus CD under the seat in Daniel's car. Because I had to move the seat up all the way to reach the pedals and I saw it when I was getting back in. So I still haven't grown any and that's just the last straw, I tell you. 

Batman puts his hands in his pockets and laughs nervously because when I get going he doesn't know what to say and I know he liked me quiet and easy to lead. He isn't used to strong personalities, he's very unassuming, able to step back and blend into his environment and that's made for an easy time for him here. Sometimes I wish he'd go home. He wants to be my conscience but that position has already been filled by Sam, who reminds me daily that I need to think before I say things and not do so much damage when I spread my moods over the collective like thick warm butter, suffocating every living thing for miles.

If you want to come in and save the day I think you need to start sooner, otherwise maybe you could be my friend? My nosy neighbor? Part of my storied past?

Indeed. I don't want to get involved without being invited but I think sometimes you have resources that you forget about, that would make your life easier. 

I snort. (Easier? Naw, I'm going to do this the hard way, gunning her straight through.)

So I'm here as a reminder, that's all. 

I'll keep it in mind. 

Better yet. Let me deal with him. 

I can deal with him. 

Yes, I see that and I see how poorly you come out as a result. 

I'm fine. 

He shakes his head and stares at me. You're never actually going to let me in, are you?

It's my turn to look away and shake my head. I've got a lot going on. 

Nothing's changed, then. 


Then can I extract a promise that if you need anything, be it money, muscle or just a hug, that you'll come to me? If I can do anything. I feel helpless here, Bridget. 

Don't. You live in a beautiful spot. The view's not bad either. There's New-Jake, shirtless in the driveway cleaning the bike and I gesture at him. Batman smiles.

It's a waste is what that is. 

Maybe he'll be only unscathed one here. But then Jake sees me and hurries over.

I doubt it. 

Me too. 

Thanks for the vote of confidence. 

If I had any confidence in you being able to weather these years relying solely on your own stubbornness, I wouldn't be here right now. You're tough, Bridget but you're no match for this. 

Sure I am. I'm here, aren't I? 

Only because they won't let you go.

I'm right where I'm supposed to be. Right here. Right now. You worry too much.

Monday, 11 August 2014

That time Monday turned from black to green.

(So many things have been altered to bring this to the page, forgive me if it seems simplistic or glaring, it was the only way I would be permitted to write about it. Also dealing with big important expensive things makes me cry. Like everything does.)

Caleb's independent board is all but dismantled, thanks to a huge undertaking on my part to offend, disturb and anger each one of them, independently.

They didn't like the fact that I am using de facto household budget logic here, that I pointed out they sign their name on things quarterly, making decisions at random but mostly following the herd and for that they are collecting big fat paychecks.

I slipped in four different caveats and finally Caleb caught the last one, having missed the previous three. It said, "And if Bridget wants to buy all the golden sheep in the land in order to spin their fleece into chains which will hang from the necks of any musicians she encounters on her trips to the New York studio, she will have carte blanche to do so."

They ALL initialled that and Caleb yelled WHAT THE FUCK? so loudly in the boathouse that I heard him from my kitchen, over the sound of the time machine, sans hearing aids, no less.

I texted him immediately. I KNOW RIGHT?

So he called a meeting.

I'm pretty sure you could hear him tearing strips off people. Confirming what I had been telling him all along. All five who initialed the release? Relieved of their positions. Two remaining who did not see these forms but seemed to be so easily charmed? Reassigned back to the legal team where they belong. This isn't a company, this is a family and if he ever listened to me he would keep his fucking money in the bank where it belongs, instead of paying people so he could talk about his board and his capital and his ventures and his seeds. I'm so fucking done with this shit. I've never SEEN so many people waste so much time on so little work.

After things calmed down, after the room was cleared, Caleb turned to me, hands on the table.

Tell me what you're thinking, he demanded.

I'm wondering how in the hell you've done so well for yourself without ever paying attention to what's going on around you. I'm wondering how much you threw away. 

He burst out laughing. You should be counting how much I'm going to save now that the board will be dissolved. 

Depends. Is it a finder's fee? And the board was supposed to be dissolved last winter, you lazy fuck.

I'll ignore the namecalling because your addendums were hilarious. And you're possibly the best money manager I've ever utilized.

Do you use them all?

Only the really pretty one. His eyes flashed and he came over to where I stood, at the other end of the table. He put his head down against mine, pressing his cheek against my temple.

I'm sorry, Bridget. I'm sorry for trying to hurt you, I'm sorry for not softening things. I'm sorry for not being my brother's keeper. You've been instrumental in directing this project and I need to pay better attention. I need to listen to you. I need you to help me.

Three things, Diabhal. Firstly this project is my family and secondly, I already decided I'm not going to believe you. Cole was a lot of things to me but I know damn well he loved me and you can't take that from me. Thirdly, stick the money in the bank and leave it there. Stop trying to stretch everything. Stop risking, stop wasting.

I wouldn't dream of it. Forgive me. His lips are against my forehead.

I want to go. Let's pack up. I step back and his eyes swim back into focus.

Breakfast? (He is desperate to spend more time.)

Only if it's in paper. (McDonalds. Five minutes to order, ten minutes to eat.)

Yes, fine.

He walks back down to the other end of the table to collect his things. I pick up my bag, stuff my phone and my doodle-covered papers into it and walk out. I take the elevator down alone and stand on the sidewalk, breathing the hot stale air of the city, realizing I really surprised myself in not being intimidated by people who are supposed to be so much smarter than I. Relief makes me burst into tears.

Skateboard Jesus slowly rolls past me and he says, What have you learned this morning? 

So many things I can't list them all. 

Good for you. You make Jesus proud.

No, I made Bridget proud. 

Same thing, he says and he picks up speed, disappearing into the crowd.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Enabled, disabled, humbled and done.

Lochlan has abandoned both his man-bun and his razor and says he's going to become wild like the bears. He growled and chased me up the front steps and then told me to go dress for a bike ride. The sunbeam was parked on the front walk. This is a test run at a slow speed through the neighborhood. Yeah right. Half the time we wind up in Maple Ridge (and get to visit his mom, who makes us slushies and tacos) or Whistler (where we can buy tacos for mere hundreds of dollars) so I knew to bring all my stuff in my backpack and wear all the gear, not just the drive down to the Ferry Terminal gear (where you can get chowder! For hundreds of dollars. Damn. I used to buy hot chowder from a guy with a thermos near the public wharf. He charged a dollar a cup.)

And I am right. Seven hours later, two tanks of gas and we are back, with only eight near-misses and two missed exits thanks to Sunday construction and a decidedly distracted Juggler, who's now working on his unicycle skills, entertaining Ruth and her friends and Aurora too.

Because PJ yelled at him when we got home and then Ben did too but not too harshly, just hey, if I can't travel overseas alone with her, then fuck off with your amazingly poor motorcycle skills, okay?

Except that I'm sure Loch's skills are fine, he's just ridden enough in his life that the law of averages kicks in and his odds of drama increase due to miles logged.

Or something like that.


We didn't get any tacos today or any slushies. Just lemonade from the 7-11 and then a melted granola bar from his pocket that we shared before finding a little hole in the wall diner in Burnaby somewhere that I forgot the name of that had really great french fries just like the ones in Shediac.

Or maybe it was Halifax. Summerside? Martha's Vineyard. Brigantine? I can't remember anymore. I think the helmet is making my neck shrink, compressing my brain onto my shoulders. Just what I need.

(He just said the fries were just like the ones at that truck at Casino Pier. Yes. That's it.)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Maybe a month, maybe two.

Three hours of Skyping with Nolan this morning and ninety-five minutes of the vet's time and I am now broke and we are hospicing a beautiful older-than-I-thought horse, but not for long.

(I had just decided I would be the headless horsewoman for Hallowe'en, too. Flaming pumpkin and all.)

There are worse places to be if you're in your final days. Caleb remarked that I should have stayed out of it instead of being all upset over the mud or the number for a name and let the professionals do their work. I've had it now. I threw a clean plate at his head. He swore back and I lunged, caught by the braid from a very on-point Sam, who apologized profusely for managing to pick me up off the ground by my hair and also for inserting himself in what probably would have been an amazingly fair fight for once, seeing as Caleb doesn't want to engage in physical altercations and seeing how strong I've become living outside in the sunshine in a surprisingly nostalgic summer thus far.

Ben won't even go see Aurora. He doesn't want to get attached. Same with the kids, though I think that's more PJ's doing so they don't fall in love with her too.  Loch gets attached to everything and will bear the weight. I'm going to be crushed like a bug, sending a horse up to heaven so Jacob will have one to ride since it's been a while.

It's fine if she has an ocean view and a warm salt breeze on her face when she goes. I certainly won't be asking for more than that when it's my turn. 

In the meantime we all get extra snuggles and carrots too.

I want to cry but it upsets her. It upsets everyone but sometimes it's a tap I can't turn off. I asked Sam why I gravitate toward all things that aren't long for this world and he said maybe it's not me finding them, maybe it's them finding me.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Love at first light.

Caleb stood in the front drive this morning, watching. Hands in his pockets like always, face set impassively, expressionless as he remarked on the fact that this isn't what he pictured when he decided to build the stables, figuring we would find a couple of young, well-behaved horses for the children to ride and keep me happy.

I pointed out that she keeps me happy.

She has only been here for a few hours yet. You can still change your mind, Princess. 

No, I'm good, thanks. (I'm still technically not speaking to the Devil).

She was grunty and gentle this morning when I went out to feed her and give her a bath.
She stood well for me, though John was two steps away and she was well secured and had distractions. I never ever want to be kicked by a horse so we went very slowly but she was great save for when I tried to scrub her hocks. I didn't push and she settled again.

Then Lochlan came in and she nudged right past me, crushing me against the wall as she turned. She stuck her muzzle right in his hair and rubbed the top of his head very hard, snorting really loud. I asked him to go outside and I would lead her out to see if it was a fluke. Nope. The moment she came outside she saw him and bent her head and did it again. Harder still.

I went and got a banana for her and when I tried to give it to her she stuck her muzzle against my chest and pushed against me, snorting as if she were laughing. I almost fell over. I think she's starved for companionship and I don't think I'll be changing my mind about her anytime soon. Not if she keeps doing this. I can't wait to see how she reacts to the rest of the boys.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The tiny collector of quickly-beating hearts.

This is Aurora. She's eighteen or nineteen. Her teeth are shit. Her back is shit. Her attitude? Also shit. Her old name was a five-digit number so I chose a new one. I hope she likes it. She lived in eight inches of mud in the blistering sun.They were going to put her down. I know she's going to break my heart but I brought her home anyway.

She's going to be therapy for a bit. She's going to be loved.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

My apologies but I'm not sorry.

Ben cheered me up this morning, waking me with his bagpipes as he stood on the platform where we set up the new telescope. It's like a mini-stage so he has a perfect vantage point from the highest point of the cliff, directly on the line where the old crumbling rock wall divides the two main properties. It's far enough back from the edge that I don't worry if the kids play on it when the telescope isn't outside and it's more than perfect for Ben's piper moments.

So there he is in his boots and kilt and nothing else, playing laments and war songs and dance songs and some original work too. I finally took my coffee outside when I realized he wasn't going to stop any time soon and I stood at the beginning of the wall on the grass, still in my pajamas, holding my cup up to my face with both hands. Smiling even. Boats were coming nearer to the bottom of the point, a few speedboats, a sailboat. Some windsurfers. Then some locals in their zodiacs. Then two more larger sailboats, their decks packed with people enjoying a perfect day. Ben got to the end of Scotland the Brave, turning a slow circle on the final notes and when he saw me he yelled out JESUS, FINALLY! and put his pipes on the platform.

He ripped off his kilt and mooned the waterside crowd. Then he left the kilt, picked up his pipes, and went back inside, pulling me by the hand.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Smiling's just a phase.

Look at us now-
Are you happy with the way that things
Are going around here?
Are you happy now?
Opened my skin, made a claim of revolution
Then you let yourself back in
I want to tell you about new music out but I'm afraid there's just too many surprise haymakers, chokeholds, corners and long quiet conversations going on here to just blissfully immerse myself into molten melodies. Too many words to sort through. Too many accusations flying as the Devil makes a blatant grab for a brass ring that's already been claimed.

I liked him better when he was subtle and mean. I liked him better when he existed within the confines of my nightmares, within the bonds of our arrangement and not like this. Don't vilify Cole any worse. Don't make this any harder. I don't write about Cole but that doesn't mean I don't think about him so much. Sometimes I wish he would help me with things, take care of things, look after things. So many middle of the night calls when I would be leaving work and our shitty car wouldn't start and he would get a drive over from one of the others, screwdriver in his pocket and he would tell them we'd be fine, that they could leave and I would always ask him why, what if he can't get the car started and he would smile and say I shouldn't worry about it and he never failed to get it working. Never even once. And he never let me accept a ride home from one of them so that I would be home safe because he always said if he was there, I was safe. He lied too but that's okay because I didn't know any better, because I existed in a weird space where I thought when he said I love you that it meant something and I'm actually sure that it did and I'm sure now that his big brother is forging ahead with yet another phase of this plan to destroy whatever he can't have. I'm sure that the total eclipse of the sun that was Jacob simply slowed down something that maybe should have played out already and now his frustration is showing, he's running out of time. Deprivation didn't work, neither did satiation. What's left? I don't know. There will be no white flags here. I'm not giving in. I was so close to happy I could taste it, breathe it in. Things were getting better.

Amazing how easy it is to control a fortune and how hard it is to control one single little human.

Just amazing.

Monday, 4 August 2014

After I weakened your relationship with Loch I paid Cole to put himself in the line of fire, so that you would be close. I continued to pay him right up through when you left him. That was such a surprise. I didn't actually expect that. You were so loyal to him for so long. I actually thought it fairly uncharacteristic when I discovered you weren't loyal to either one of us.

He didn't love you. He was a placeholder for me. While I went and made something of myself so that you would eventually have security, stability. Money. Basically all of the things I knew Loch would never be able to give you. I couldn't be in two places at once and I knew it would take time for you to forgive me for the sins of my past so Cole was the perfect solution. But don't think for a moment that he loved you. He didn't care one way or another. But he found the whole thing more difficult than he anticipated and I think the pressure drove him to treat you poorly. 

(I want to note 'poorly' doesn't cut it when you're having your head slammed into the floorboards while he violates parts of you that are so off limits they're still technically criminal but I'm still stuck on the 'he didn't love you' part.)

I was busy becoming better than Loch so I could one day come back and take over. So that I would shift back to being the good brother. The way our relationship started was necessary and I am sorry for terrorizing you but I had to do something drastic. You and Lochlan were so determined to be together. I couldn't let that happen. 

But it did, Cale.

But it did, Princess.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

He had a voice that was strong and loud and I
Swallowed his facade 'cause I'm so
Eager to identify with
Someone above the ground
Someone who seemed to feel the same
Someone prepared to lead the way and
Someone who would die for me
I slid down his knees until we were nose to nose and he frowned and said he would miss our close talks once I hate him again. He put his drink down and put one arm around me. With the other he ran the back of his hand across my cheek, tucking my hair behind my ears, telling me I am beautiful, telling me he never meant to cause so much damage inside my head.

He wants to talk.

I delayed as long as I could, lying on the quilt, watching him watch my eyes for approval as he moved against me. So strong. So full of regret. So evil. So sweet. He kept my hands anchored tight in his fist, held against his chest and with the other hand he held his weight as he drove into me. It wasn't his usual style. His usual style is rough and surprisingly painful. He usually doesn't listen. He usually doesn't seem to notice there's a rest of me. He's usually a monster, disguised in a three-piece suit and when my toes curl up my brain shuts down. But it's awake now. It's curious and unrelenting as I wait for him to begin.

Ask me questions, Neamhchiontach, and I'll try to fill in the blanks and put your mind at ease.

Are you really going to spend the rest of your life obsessing over me? I lick my lips and steal his ignored drink. We're sober otherwise, straight and false.

His medium-blue gaze burns a hole right through. Yes. I've got the most important aspects of you well in hand.

Which are?

Your soul. Your youngest child. Your welfare. Your boys. Your heart.

I finish his drink, watching him pour another with one hand. The tears begin to roll down my cheeks. Or maybe it's bourbon. I have a stuffed up nose and I drank it too fast. Yes, it's probably just bourbon pooling in my eyes. No wonder they sting, like my skin again, tonight from razorburn and not from the sun.

Speaking of Henry-

He's mine, Bridget. I would not play games with the heart of a child. Every minute of every day I am grateful for him. And for you. 

He frowns at me as the bourbon leaks out more quickly now, flooding the moment until it floats up and turns over, bloated and logged. He mistakes my relief for disappointment as I try to picture what life would have been like trying to stretch Henry's strong little heart over someone new. Henry could do it but I don't think I can.

He wraps his arms tighter around me, pulling me in, kissing me briefly, snot, tears and all. Caleb hates germs so this is either an inability to let an opportunity pass or Henry really has changed him. Maybe in the same way so much has changed me.

Then what else is there? I ask him as his teeth linger against my lower lip. I put my hands up to hold his face as his eyes meet mine. He pulls back and stares at me, weighing his words. He drops them on me in spite of the fact that I can't lift them off and I bravely face being crushed.

Cole never loved you.

Oh, see, now that's where you're wrong. I was with him every day of his life right through his last breath so I think I would know a little more than you-

Bridget, I paid him to hold my place.

I try to fight to get off him but he won't let me. I stop struggling and just sit there, head down, defeated. I can't meet his eyes. This is humiliating and unbelievable. This is bullshit.

He did. He loved me, Diabhal. But Caleb isn't smiling. He says nothing. The bourbon pours all over the floor. I swallow hard and nod. You're right. I hate you.

He pulls my fists up and puts them against his eyes.

(It's not a lie. It's not a trick. Jesus Christ I don't think I'll survive this one but I am and I need to go now before I explode into a million little pieces because I loved your brother and I tried so hard and this one would have been something you really should have never told me because I would have been better off hearing anything else at all. Anything but that.)

Saturday, 2 August 2014


Don't let me play Call of Duty with you.We were troubleshooting one of the xboxes last night and I'm notoriously eager to run with the big boys (as always) and also completely incapable of actually doing that. I started a single-player campaign and all I had to do was follow the two cinematic dudes, jump a log and then break into a sprint up a path to my right.

Nope. Couldn't do it. I couldn't even manage to look straight ahead let along figure out the controls for sprinting. Then that message would fly up on the screen and make me feel horrible. Just horrible. So I kept trying but I could only ever make it over the log and then I would get left behind. Ten times. Fifteen times. Twenty times and I threw the controller onto the couch and got up and left. Talk about post traumatic stress from being eight years old and too little to keep up when we went up the path through the woods to get to the baseball field.


Matt's new nickname is The Sandman, for he made me one of his specialteas after dinner and I promptly grew chest hair, sprouted a thick European accent and then passed out cold on Lochlan.

I woke up this morning sans accent, chest hair AND sunburn-pain. I ran downstairs, down the hall through the doors, down the other hall, through the den into their room and kissed a sleeping Matt on the cheek. His eyes flew open and he laughed. What?

I don't hurt!

Good, go back to bed, Doofus. It's seven on a Saturday.

I look over and Sam is facedown in a dream, one hand up on Matt's pillow clutching his hand deathgrip-style and I smile and whisper goodbye before going back, closing doors as I tiptoe out.

Aw. Also whoops. Sometimes they stay up all night watching movies and I forget. Sam is such a morning person, I miss him if he's not already up when I wake up.

I go back up and crawl up the center of my bed and then halfway back down under the quilt. I lie on my back and embrace the absolute lack of feeling in my skin.

Loch wakes up and he's all curls and mouth and and naked shoulders, leaning on his elbows. Where'd you go?

To thank Matt for the tea. Nothing hurts.

Oh. Thank fuck. He flops down on his face and throws one arm out to pull me in tight underneath him.

But he doesn't go back to sleep.
There's a memory of how we used to be
That I can see through the flames
I am hypnotized as I fantasize
Forgetting lies and pain
But I can't go back

The ashes call my name

Friday, 1 August 2014


Lochlan has absorbed his burn, channeling the heat and pain into pure energy. He is back to normal, but with bonus freckles and hair lighter than ever, tinging on the color of watered down Orange Crush and me, well, I'm still pink, swollen and too hot to touch or I will scream at you and then burst into tears. My skin stopped feeling the ache of the slow steady burn and has graduated to icy crawling. It's amazing how much this hurts. Aspirin and cold packs around the clock for me and blue balls for the rest of them I guess because even a kiss is a little above my skill level right at this moment.

And the Russian non-doc says, for goodness sake, stay out of the sun. 

Oh, okay. Yes I know this. I was so excited to be naked outside again sunscreen was the last thing on my mind.

PJ put a huge bottle of it on the counter and also on the patio right by the door. John brought me a cowboy hat to wear in the sun (his brown one, it's my favorite) and Ben gave me a really quiet lecture about looking after myself first. No matter what.

He did comment on my hair. It's almost white again. It's straw again too, but so is everything that touches me, even the softest jersey cottons.

I haven't actually slept. Mostly I keen and walk the house through the early morning hours. The doctor left some better painkillers but I don't take those kinds of drugs but I hid them in the cupboard for when I feel more destructive than I do now. Right now I would like to preserve myself or perhaps lie in the deep freezer for a little while.

I watched Caleb at dinner though. I watched him crush on Sam and on me and incubate his truth by sitting on it and I watched him curate his lies like a good devil should and I wondered what's next and then I realized he was as anxious as everyone else when he asked me if I thought I'd be better by Saturday. If I thought I would be able to be touched without flinching.

But not if I needed anything.

I would have an answer if he had asked, because that lobotomy would be good right now, then if I felt pain it wouldn't be so fucking familiar all the time. It would be new.

I can give you new pain, he promises.

Can't wait.