Sunday, 31 January 2016

Rock, paper, fingers.

(No church today. The floors are being redone.)

Caleb comes over this morning with a stack of receipts and a breakfast invitation that was cancelled on my behalf, because I was upstairs still sleeping with Lochlan who wouldn't let me get up before nine.

Sometimes Loch is all-play, ditch the day, hideaway fun too, you know.

We finally consented to get dressed and show our faces only to head out for a long rainy drive in the truck that ended in the instant magical pizza place. We took Ruth book-shopping. We bought Krispy Kremes. I need bigger skinny jeans. Maybe just-right jeans or post-pizza and donut jeans. But not mom-jeans, because I'm horribly offended by that label, as if you have children and suddenly lose your sense of style. You don't lose it, exactly, it just gets buried for a while in all the other stuff and then when you unearth it again you find you don't care as much as you once did.

I care but if it doesn't have a thousand buttons, some ruffles and come in all black I don't exactly want it or plan to wear it, most of the time. The only thing better than that is naked, I think.

Naked is good. It's a style too, if you're being picky. We could have probably been a nudist colony if not for the children present. Maybe once they grow up and leave this feathered nest we can slowly shift into one, except then when Caleb would show up with more work for me to do I'd have papercuts all over the damned place instead of only on my fingertips. Ow.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Tiny little Saturday things/My Little Flyer.

I was woken up at four this morning, thought the room was on fire, because the fireplace was on and Ben was all Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii Can't sleep let me molest you half to death okay shhhh and he did, pulling me right out of the dream when I saw Lochlan's face after my first practice on the swings and I don't mind one bit though I feel a little sheepish for maybe not being fully awake to reciprocate sufficiently. He smiles this morning and says he doesn't mind either as he pulls the quilts back up over my shoulders and Lochlan's too as he slept hard and hasn't let go of me much since five or so. We slept in for hours this morning. Much needed. Profoundly appreciated even though it meant waking up to cat vomit all the way down the basement steps that Sam somehow missed? Or tracked? Or something and other assorted fun items like a standoff between Duncan and PJ over the last cup of coffee in the pot, considering we...forgot to buy coffee on Friday on the weekend snacks/bank run.

Oops.

Ben, still all smiles, fixed that before it got out of hand. Crisis averted. Duncan gets his endless coffee pot and I get..New Jake to accompany me to the church to pick up Sam, who probably still has cat vomit on his shoes but no car because it's being detailed as per the old schedule Matt set to 'treat' Sam and just left because the half-year was paid for.

I am not permitted to drive yet until I suss out how the pills are going to work for my inner space cadet, who's a lot like Ben in that she's all Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii let's distract each other when I should be staying on my side of the road and actually going at green lights and such.

But none of that matters. What matters is when I opened my eyes after eight this morning (the barest luxury I would actually kill for, no joke) Lochlan was there with his arms around me and we weren't fighting and I didn't wake up in flight mode and I didn't know about the lack of coffee or the cat vomit but the bed was still warm in Ben's spot thanks to the heavy quilts and it was just..

Perfect.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Junk drawer.

When PJ passed my my Friday coffee this morning it was half Irish cream. I said nothing save for thank you and I'm sure no one else noticed. I love this man, truly I do. It's Friday, after all and I'm hoping for a weekend with endless pizza and maybe a screening of The Revenant. I'm hoping to sleep in. I'm hoping for a little less rain and a little more sunshine and I'm hoping for a little peace and quiet the likes of which we haven't seen in several weeks running.

The pot light is ticking like there's a grasshopper stuck in it. It will burn out within days. The dishwasher sprung it's springs and has been fixed. The rain turns everything to mush and the darkness is pushing away from five o'clock like a little kid on a swing. Yesterday I saw tulips busting up out of the ground in a neighbor's garden and I have all of our tax receipts out and organized by hard-sided folios, one for each, including Ruth, who now has to file taxes because she's got a job too.

I need a job.

I also saw that Sephora Canada now sells Anastasia makeup-makeup and not just the eyebrow stuff so I really need a job though I have a drawer full of lip products and a definitive problem already that precludes me buying any more until I use up some of what I have.

Sam is being a prince of a guy to take up the case of me finally again now that the dust has settled between him and Matt. Barring their emotions they have remained friends, even going out for lunch together yesterday so Sam could give Matt some photos he wanted him to have. Argh. If only the rest of us were so civilized but we aren't. We're heathens. We're feral. We're lurking in the woods, dirty and damp to chew on the first person to cross our paths and we hardly listen to reason most days.

Bear with me while I try and find a way around or maybe through the fog. As usual I'll do my best. As usual, you prefer me at my worst.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Glacial Awareness.

There is nothing that I would not face
With vengeance and annihilate
Sever off the hands of fate
If it were to keep you safe
If a million reasons came my way
None of them could take your place
You will never be alone
I will never let you
Let you go
Pinned watching the old man flick his newspaper to his lap every time the young children across from him yell and run down the hall. One lady is knitting a sweater in the corner with round needles. She looks unhappy but satisfied she is using her time well enough. The young woman with her phone buzzing incessantly transmits every movement, thought and feeling into it for validation and the man beside me is wearing shoes and carrying a bag that belies his young minimalist approach to life, highlighting maybe a trust fund or merely a comfortable upbringing. You can tell a lot about a man by the shoes he wears, both size and make. I don't know why that is but I'm bored and constructing life-stories of those around me, based on flash judgements, based on nothing.Weighing as much as these clouds but no more. You can't put any effort into something so light.

My headphones are on very low. I'm listening to songs I love. I'm ignoring the words in favor of the near-dark around me. The grit and damp of early January. The cold/warm, sun/rain, wind/still sort of dirt-filter that hallmarks winter here in the rain forest. No one seems to notice how strange the sun seems after a week of heavy rain. No one notices my sketchbook or the flowers I'm drawing from memory. Not a lot has changed in my waiting in twenty-five years. I can wait for hours, weeks even, as long as I have headphones and a pencil. Lochlan once said one of those days we travelled I was going to be left behind in a bus station somewhere in New Jersey because I would tune out the world so easily. I knew that wouldn't happen because he was there to make sure I went with him when time was up.

The man to my other side shifts his legs and checks his watch. His pockets are stuffed with stolen memories. They fall out and people leave shoe-marks on them, a travesty under any circumstances. These are not his and so he pays them no mind but the person who belongs to each one would most likely ransom their own soul to have them back.

But then I remember that they are all mine, and that I have no soul to use for collateral to get them all back. In fact, Sam assures me I won't get them all back anyway and the ones that I do may be altered in order for me to be whole enough again for people to make judgements about my shoes or my waiting-style or the number of bracelets going up my left arm because that's what people do. He doesn't care that I worry about some of the bigger ones that get dented and roll away into corners and he doesn't worry that I care that he might miss something. He sits and waits with me, reading his notes, highlighter in hand, sheets of cheap paper balanced on knees. Just like Jake except for the fact that it isn't Jake, its Sam and maybe that's what he meant by changing memories. I don't hate it, exactly. It's easier even though somehow it weighs more than the other parts of the day. I guess that's part of my New Abnormal or whatever Lochlan called it last night when he told the story of the time he left me on the bench, caught up in my brain-music and drawings while he got on the bus, just to see if I would actually notice.

I didn't but he didn't take it personally either.

What if the driver had refused to stop to let me on? Sometimes they don't, you know. Sometimes they have a schedule to keep and no patience for teenage pranks.

He was an old guy, Bridge. Had pictures of his grandchildren taped up all over the sun visor. I knew he wouldn't leave a young woman in a deserted bus station late at night alone.

Risking my life with his own weightless judgements wasn't something I want to repeat, so now I make sure I look around in between each song, at the very least.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

144/106

Another doctor visit, another smoothie reward from PJ, a little banking and the tiniest bit of tax filing this morning before Lochlan lost his nerve and called me in. Caleb went from looking so content to looking fierce, agitated and unamused as he escorted me out to the driveway where Loch was pretending to clean out the truck. Loch is in that sweater and his favorite jeans that hang off his butt and make him look too thin but somehow it's how I know him best and I smile as I make my way down the steps. He comes to the bottom and holds out his arms in case I go ass over teakettle again but it's too warm for the steps to be icy.

My smoothie was lunch. Breakfast was leftovers. I'd like to paint but I don't know what. I'd like to finish listening to Strawberry Swing, the song that was on when I left Caleb's house, and I'd like to have a nap in front of the fire because these pills make me a little drowsy and my blood pressure is still way too high for anyone to be happy. I was told to call immediately if I have any fluttering or pounding or faintness when I get up suddenly so I've become a little blonde turtle with my sudden movements, where before you would whip around and I'd be gone and you'd say Where's she go? It's how I managed to steal so many wallets on the midway back in the good old days. Though the ones I steal nowadays have far more money in them, that's for sure. I have to keep the boys on their toes and my own talents fresh, as it were. When we came back inside I put Caleb's wallet on the counter just inside the door. But not before taking all the money out of it.

I'm buying dinner for everybody, I think. Wow.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Penny to his Medusa.

Last night's whiskey and courage went long past dark and into wavery, drunken, dangerous territory for some of us. Including the Devil, who watched us closely, me and Loch, proclaiming us adorable more than once. We sat quietly by the fire sometimes, and sometimes danced and sometimes laughed at the radio play on the stereo. We went outside to watch the rain and we almost gave in to his invitation to extend the night when somewhere we found a crumb of self-control (learned so recently but maybe not) and politely declined.

Tomorrow I'll come by and we can swap Henry things and look at the taxes. It's almost February. Time to do up T4s for the locals. I catch myself trying to make things up to him to soften the blow.

Or just stay on.

Sorry. Not a good idea.

On the contrary.

Nothing changes, does it?

Again, on the contrary, Lochlan is learning to roll with it if you step outside of your boundaries.

No, he isn't.

We should test him. Better yet, bring him with you.

And let you eat him alive? Never again.

Caleb shows his teeth briefly and then the levity is gone in a flash. Sam is standing behind me. I can feel it.

Bridge, come back in. Loch, you too.

I'm having a great time being talked about, Sammy. Loch is lit from within. He's in slow-motion, liquor is mud to him. It paralyzes and calms him like nothing else.

Let's go.

Ah. I should give you a stipend for being her keeper now?

If no one else is around, maybe. August and Joel have gone home. PJ made sure the kids were ready for bed and then crashed in his room. Duncan is watching TV downstairs with Ben. No one would have saved us, truth be told.

What is she worth to look the other way this evening?

Far more than you might guess. She's been working hard. Don't try and mess with it right now. The newness of it has barely worn off.

Sam, the newness of you hasn't. This is dogma. She belongs with me.

She belongs with them.

I was first. I'll be last. You shouldn't stick your nose in where it doesn't belong.

Bridget, you ready to go inside? You've got to get some sleep. You too, Loch.

We nod but continue to stare at Caleb. I always wait for the figure as he tries to buy his way in.

But he doesn't. Not tonight. He's right, Doll. I'll see you tomorrow. Get some rest.

Sam looks relieved. I reach up and kiss the Devil's cheek and burn against the stubble. Oíche mhaith, Diabhal.

Neamhchiontach, coladh sámh.

Lochlan snarls mildly at Caleb on his way past but says nothing. By the time he thought of something, he'd be upstairs anyway and saying it in a language near no one can understand. The midnight ramblings in English/Gaelic/Romanian/Scottish Outrage are usually broken and lose their efficacy quickly when pickled.

Caleb smiles. Still adorable, he tells Loch. See you both tomorrow. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

He never is happy when I'm out of his sight.

(Back to business on a Monday morning and damn. These drugs though.)

It's Robbie Burns Day which means Ben has been interrupting this day with horrifyingly regular recitals with his bagpipes out on the telescope platform and PJ and I spent half the morning procuring haggis and finally found some thanks to the creepy butcher who said he makes extra for the last minute types like us.

Huh?

I'm not last-minute. I swear I remembered just after breakfast instead of three weeks ago like I should have. I went and got some fresh scotch and some fixings to go with the haggis. Like steak because..well, haggis. It's cooking now and it smells delicious. I just don't...well, like eating the parts you're supposed to throw away. I tried to negotiate down to veal-stuffed pasta but he wouldn't budge.

Daniel and Schuyler went and offered magnificently to lead the dinner after I abandoned the procedure halfway through last years Burns Night on account of the overbearing thought of having to eat this meal when for me, eating turkey is a feat of courage only reserved for the most special of occasions, like Easter and Christmas. I also had the flu last year this time. Go figure.

But this is a special occasion, he insists. Lochlan is so excited. He put on his kilt instead of jeans first thing and is already coming up rash, more red than usual thanks to the rough wool. I won't go near him or I'll be red too but I will cook this if he wants it and organize this night to rival what I hope will be an equally exciting and revered St. Patrick's Day later this spring. The war is on.

My girl, she's airy, he begins.

Oh, shut up already.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Overwhelm.

I've reached that stage of exhaustion where it takes a supreme effort not to sit slack-jawed and vacant-eyed at the dinner table or in conversation or when I'm sitting by myself.

Nolan is gone. Claus went too. The old Russian doctor came by this morning and gave me some probably-not-a-good-idea pills for my headaches and thus it seems this week will be shrouded in fog. Even the ghosts are disappointed as the Devil is elated at how things turned out. How well I stood my ground. How well I balanced on the edge of life, good and bad, between the past and the future, between the buried and me.

Between Ben, Loch and Caleb.

I'm not sure Caleb is going anywhere. This wasn't supposed to be a magic fix, it was a beginning, a shift in the wind that might lead to a smoother existence down the road or maybe nothing will change. I don't know. Half the time I couldn't hear what anyone was saying because it rained so hard it drowned everything else out. And now both Nolan and Claus are gone again and yet Sam, Joel and August remain. I'm trying to figure out how to keep everyone happy while living within Lochlan's limits, protecting myself from the Devil and still being permitted access to my ghosts. Then they get all mixed up and I wind up living within the Devil's limits while protecting myself from the ghosts and being permitted access to Lochlan.

I do it to myself. I know that. I never said I had it all. I never said I had it all together. I never said I understood why the forbidden is so attractive or why it's so easy to ignore the danger Caleb brings but some things are just meant to be figured out over time. Even if time sometimes skips, drags and runs flat-fucking-out.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Bridget Reilly versus the world.

Sickening, weakening
Don't let another somber pariah consume your soul
You need strengthening, toughening
It takes an inner dark to rekindle the fire burning in you
Ignite the fire within you

When you think all is forsaken,
Listen to me now
You need never feel broken again
Sometimes darkness can show you the light
I'm a little overwhelmed, both at the support around me and the vehemence they share towards this collective, up close where you can see the dents the words leave in their souls. I regard their souls with such fascination, since I don't have one of my own to inspect, turning them over in my hands, exclaiming at the reflections, the imperfections, the uniqueness of each one. Each one is a work of art. Each one is so beautiful I want to cry. Each one is tethered here on chains. Each one seems completely, one-hundred-percent sure of this even on days when I say we should take it all apart again and walk the fuck away. They say it stands. No matter what.

Is this your favorite song? Ben asks on the fifteenth play through in a row.

Yes.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Fuckit.

She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
I would rather be blind than deaf.

Lying on the floor in the dark this morning protected from the torrential rains, I've actually got a studio version of Lochlan playing Hallelujah and singing along. He sounds nothing like Jeff Buckley. His voice is softer and more clipped. Deeper. Slower. Accent in force. Guitar hesitant and he messes up in three different places but it was a sound test from last week and I grabbed it before they could clear it off and do something else. I fall in love with voices before I'll even notice anything else. That was how I imprinted on Loch. He yelled first the night that stupid hockey ball knocked me down and changed my destiny. I was eight. I didn't know any better. They should have. This is a mess.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

If you love someone set them free. If they come back to you, they're yours.

He didn't take the hat off until late last night when it tipped itself off his head as he bent down to kiss me, framed between his elbows, pinned by his weight. We don't like it when people pull apart our relationship, picking through the flaws in our love and judging our choices when it comes to each other. It feels too private, too invasive, as if they're right there watching as he pushes me down into the quilts and smiles softly when I bite against his lower lip, mewling against his skin. His hands are so tight, embedded in my skin, searching for my heart. When he finds it he flips the helmet down and welds it to his hands.

There. No going back now, Peanut. I said you were mine and I meant it and if this is what it takes then it's done. 

I closed my eyes and drifted along in his dream until the alarm sounded and I opened my eyes to daylight and comfortable chairs of the war office, AKA the library. Claus was asking me if I were to have a normal life, what it might entail.

Oh, dear. first of all, what in the hell is normal? Second of all, I think it would look like this. But I'm a soccer ball in a deathmatch. I'm a prize. I'm a shooting star that you wished for all night long and I'll be the biggest regret of your life. I'm Pluto, once the destination of every astronaut who ever dreamed of space, now stripped of my status and destined for obscurity. Except that they came back to me and saw that there was life. And where there is life, there is hope.

When I tried to move away from Lochlan, stretching his rules, finding my limits, it hurt. It hurt a lot and so I came back in close and remained there.

I told you that would happen. That's been the feeling I get when you leave me for the past thirty years or so.

I look up at him in surprise but he's put the hat back on and this is no longer open for discussion.

Ben sits back in his chair, resigned. For him this is a risk but when I asked him about that he only quoted me a song. Or maybe it wasn't a song but it sounded like a song to me.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Like trying to stuff an octopus into a net bag.

Don't mistake this. I'm not only spending a week trying to fix everything. The first week is just going to be a more intensive kick-start. In-house. All hands on deck. Everyone's home, everyone's here. The Devil even cleared some time to rage and glower in person. He takes this personally even as I remind him it's not about him, it's about me.

And how did you get this way? Right. It's all MY fault. 

Lochlan takes my hands and pulls me in close to him, away from Caleb. Don't listen. He'll have his chance to help. He looks up over my head at Caleb as if he expects Caleb to jump right on board and start furling sails.

Caleb nods and looks at the floor for a brief moment and then he leaves and all I can think is HE'S LONELY! LET ME GO! but I don't move. I don't say anything either. I just stand with my face pressed against the flannel of Lochlan's shirt, balling up the fabric against his back with both fists.

Once this week is done they're going to gradually step back and watch us try and implement all of their directives under our own willpower. Without ghosts and threats and drama and yeah, I don't think this is going to work either but I'm giving it a shot because I was the one who said I wanted things to change. I don't know why I said that.

Step one is to elucidate what we want.

I'm not sure I even know the answer to that.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Radio violence.

So don't talk to yourself and don't talk to me
There's the river running through it
The Devil's not my enemy
Yeah yeah
It's pouring and dim though I can see bits of blue where the sky is trying frantically to rub away at the clouds blocking her view. She'll fiercely turn her sun onto them to help disperse everything and then all will be right again but quite inconsequential because after living in a rain forest for five years where my roses bloom all year around anything save for rain looks like a stranger.

I've had three cups of tea this morning while sitting with Claus. He got in late yesterday and is absolutely incensed at my behavior yesterday and lately, overall. He's spending the week here, staying next door in the guest room at Daniel and Schuyler's. He loves it here. He doesn't understand how I can rail against everything in the face of such beauty. I tell him it comes at a price. He knows.

We're going to have a busy week, Bridget. Reinforcements arrive tomorrow. During this week there will be no drinking, no pills, no extracurricular friendships, no refusals to work harder than you've ever worked before, and no escape. Joel will be watching and learning. I am in charge of you and Nolan will take care of everyone else.We're finally going to do all of the hard work we had only just begun with Jacob's support. Sometimes I think he's the only one who was ever good for you, all told. 

If you come in here with a bias or a chip on your shoulder it's probably not going to go very well. 

If you come to the table with your continued bad habits and denial it's going to go even worse, Bridget. I'm going to begin with your relationship with Lochlan and work outward from there in a radius. I'll deal in terms you are familiar with and we'll work with learning these boundaries Joel set but didn't enforce and we'll work with everyone on this point to make sure they support you instead of sabotage your efforts to be whole. 

I don't even know what that is anymore, Claus. 

Then you'll love it when you get there. 

You're so optimistic. 

Onward and upward, Dear Bridget. 

Oh my God. He got it from you. 

Pardon me?

Jake. Jake always said that. I didn't know he got it from you. 

On the contrary. I think I took it from him. He was always so hopeful when it came to you. He wanted to give you the world but any time you get a big enough piece of it you simply throw it back. If anything, do this for him.

Against my best efforts I burst into tears. I hope his optimism is contagious. I could really use it. I may be sporadic posting this week. Just cross your fingers for me, would you, please?

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Flocking.

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It's been a year since I've worn my hearing aids and a month since I last slept with the Devil, not for lack of wanting to, however and so for that I will atone but for nothing else because I don't apologize to God. He did this to me, he can watch and weep.

I am met with predictable silence because God doesn't take kindly to sarcasm, and Sam is too busy to play Catholic priest today because he's got his hands full being a Unitarian minister. It is Sunday after all and on Sundays I like to begin with surprise for breakfast.

When was your last confession, my child?

Probably a week ago when I bit down against the shoulder of New-Jake and his arms tightened around me so hard I thought I needed to hang on for the ride to heaven. 

Did you die? 

No, I'm a tourist there. When I die I'm going straight to hell. 

What makes you think that? 

The Devil told me it's true. He keeps my soul. He stole it ages ago. 

How do you exist without a soul here on earth?

Good question, Padre. I was hoping you could shed a little light on that for me. 

Is New-Jake the Devil you speak of? 

No, he's just a friend. A friend I rode from one end of last week right into the this one. I'm not exactly sorry because I have issues but my collective thought I wouldn't do something quite so reckless so they're reeling a little bit. Besides, I told you already. It's been a month since the Devil touched me.

Is the Devil one of your friends as well?

You should know. Don't they pass out mugshots in seminary school so you know what you're up against? 

We work to spread the word of God as love, not as vigilantes to fight evil. 

That's too bad. I was hoping to do some recruiting. 

You sound as if you have men of the cloth close to you? Perhaps another minister? Someone in your family? Few speak as candidly in my presence. I'm a messenger of the Lord and so usually I am met with more...reservation. 

More tact, you mean? I'm sorry. And yes, I was married to a minister and then the Devil made him fly and his progeny I can now count among my closest friends. 

I thought as much. Can you not speak to him? 

I light a cigarette and scratch my eyebrow with the hand holding it. No, he's not as impartial as you are. I just want to know if I'll ever be alright. 

I can point you to resources if you need help-

I don't need help, just an answer will be enough. 

I deal in faith, not in absolutes. For a definitive answer, my child, you need a fortune teller. 

I was afraid you were going to say that. 

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Not hyperbole in the slightest (postscript from a rainy early Saturday).

I was summoned out to the front porch after breakfast where Lochlan stands looking out into the woods, top hat in place for bravery and authority. The Ring Master. My Alpha. He turns and tells me not to get my goodbyes in order quite yet, that this is part of what they're dealing with. My need to rescind everything I agree to the moment the Devil instructs. That it ain't happening this time. That Joel will remain the house guest of a willing August in the gatehouse until Lochlan says he's done here. That some reinforcements are coming because Sam is failing, Ben is failing and I am forever stuck in limbo between the living and the dead, between good and evil, between night and day. Claus is coming and so is Nolan and we can sort this out and get some help on the light/good/living side for once instead of being swallowed by the dark that craves me so badly.

I always thought when we were older it would just be easier to tell him no, that he would have no influence over you once you were grown up, that you would find things easier to deal with when it came to him. But you didn't break evenly. So many rough edges and little pieces. If only I could find them all. We could put you back together and live out our dreams instead of remaining in this nightmare where I can't save you from him. This is my show and I don't plan to let him run it, Bridget.

Notes from a little loser on a rainy early Saturday morning.

Oh no, I see a spider web
And it's me in the middle
So I twist and turn
Here am I in my little bubble, singing out

I never meant to cause you trouble
And I never meant to do you wrong
And I, well, if I ever caused you trouble
Oh, no, I never meant to do you harm

They spun a web for me
They spun a web for me
They spun a web for me
I'll make him furnish his own transition, seeing me through the abrupt absence like a benevolent spirit watching over. Maybe beside Jake but unlike Jake I can't see through Joel. I have to look around him. I cut him off at the knees last night, dispatching him to care of my memory thief for the next two weeks because no one told me how bad off he is. Sam didn't admit a thing, preferring to watch the fallout over New-Jake from afar. Hands off. Uncharacteristically distant. It's like expecting a fireworks show and being handed a sparkler. It was muted, dulled by the rain and the time of year and the sheer weight of life bearing down on our collectively broad but frail shoulders.

So if something goes wrong with my brains or my unruly emotions because of Joel's absence he'll be here to fix it even as he has one foot out the door, bags packed and ready to leave the point finally. Ready to leave my life again, hopefully on better terms this time around. Batman made some calls and Joel won't be hurting for work and that makes me feel better.

I feel like once again the Devil comes in and razes everything we've just spent forever building and turns me around to look behind me at what once was everything and reminds me that it's familiar and habitual and that means safe even though it was never safe at all. I feel like he wins no matter what I do, where I go or who I align myself with. He's the puppetmaster still, always. He's the Coldplay fan, the hard runner, the financial wizard, the seasoned lawyer, the boogieman. My monster. If I look under the figurative bed, there he is, grinning back at me as I shriek in surprise.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Ruffles and Rages.

And don't deny me
No baby now, don't deny me
And darlin' don't be afraid
The dress was Alexander McQueen, a similar one to the one I adored in Nordstrom over the holidays. Something I can wear more often. I can't wear a Valentino to dinner, after all. It's a little over the top, even for me.

(Fun fact: I once showed up to dinner in a bright pink leotard and full face paint.

Actually I showed up like that every night that I didn't attend the meal in a black tutu and halter top, also with full face paint.

Welcome to the show. Dinner break was a seventeen-minute affair between the afternoon and evening shows. Once the regiment of the circus was over the freak show was a languid affair with dinner falling sometime between midnight and morning, after we had run out of whiskey, cigarettes and stories to tell. Out of drugs to do. Out of life to live.)

Except I probably wouldn't eat in this dress. It's too fancy. I would need a bib. A poncho. Maybe a full drop sheet. But it's beautiful nonetheless and it fits so perfectly it just confirms that he is the devil. He knows my body better than I do. I looked at the size and was surprised. This is my size? 

In McQueen it is, he says, though I've already had it altered for you for length.

Oh. Thank you. 

Just wear it until the spring and enjoy it. 

It's a rental?

No, then you get a different one. Then eventually you have enough nice things that you can rotate. 

I have nice things. 

Nicer things then. 

I dropped the subject. We had a toast to successful trips and he mentioned letting Joel go as his usefulness here has been exceeded. I asked if it was because Joel rarely agrees with Caleb. He smiled tightly and said maybe, or maybe Joel brings up more pain than I need anymore.

He's trying to fix me. 

Maybe he's simply making things worse for you. 

No pain, no gain. 

Bridget, sometimes it's good to bury the past. You did better when you did that. Bottom line. Watch your last game this weekend and throw a party, he'll be leaving next week. 

To do what?

That's up to him. He knew this would be month to month. 

Then I get two weeks more and then he can leave. 

Fine. But if you get worse I'm holding him responsible. 

Like he holds you responsible for the same thing?

He said nothing, taking a sip of his whiskey and looking out at the water. But I hit bone, I'm sure of it.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

"Oh, and stop listening to Joel", he said to me. "If he knew what he was talking about, he'd still have his credentials."

Lost all innocence
Infected and arrogant
You burn all your life
(There's no telling you)
No deliverance
Consumed by the pestilence
Of hate, you're denied
Deep in your heart does it still remain?
Do you think you can bring it
Back to life again?
Is it still in your soul?
(No saving you)
Where's the deviant
The unholy remnant
That has made you this way?
Made you fall for this hate

Tell me now, who taught you how to hate?
Because it isn't in your blood
Not a part of what you're made
So let this be understood
Somebody taught you how to hate
When you live this way you become
Dead to everyone
Deep breath. Closed eyes. Take it easy. Don't panic, Bridget. Don't show him how scared you are. Just be normal.

Wait. What? I don't know how to be normal. I don't even know how to put on a poker-face. It's always inside out or blank or I find out there's a huge hole in it from where it caught on my teeth. Same pep talk since 1983 and it hasn't worked once and how does this self-confidence thing work again? I'm supposed to lie to myself and then I'm expected to be believed? That doesn't make any sense. Besides, if I don't even believe me then no one else is going to believe me either. May as well stick to brutal honesty.

I'm too short. I wear too much black. I don't pay attention to much except music and cheese and sex and I'm more than a little confused that I can be in love with someone who frightens me so much, though if you ask me outwardly I will say I hate his guts and I'm only kind and accommodating because we share a son. But you won't believe me because I'm lying. I don't even know how my brain turned abject terror into sexual tension. Joel said it was an unconscious coping mechanism. I think it was an escape route. Same thing, he says casually as if this happens every day but it doesn't. Everyone else has their poker faces on straight. I see them. No rips, holes or stains. No crooked seams. No abnormal thoughts. No fucked up love hexagons, because let's face it. Triangles were left back in high school.

I try to keep my eyes from welling up as I turn but they're going to defy me. I'm so scared. So scared. So afraid I start to shake as I turn around to face him, a formidable, handsome enemy also dressed completely in black, also as far from normal as you can get, and in no need of a poker face because his black magic never required one.

He's looking down at his hands, which are holding the most beautiful bouquet of black and white roses. White roses with their edges painted in silvery blue dyes for a special wow.

For a special girl, he tells me, reading my mind. She's not too short. I don't care what she wears, and I never wanted normal but I do want to address the events that took place while I was gone. 

I wonder if this is the part where he kills me.

There would be no fun in that, he tells me.

Stop reading my mind, I tell myself without speaking.

Sorry. He says it out loud but he's laughing.

I stick my tongue out at him and he laughs more.

Bridget, why couldn't you manage a few days?

Six. It was six. 

Well, I'm home now and I brought you a dress if you would like to come and see it. 

My eyebrows go up. The poker face is shredded anyhow. You could see me right through it all along. I cut him off completely. He gives me my children. I sleep with one of his targets, he buys me a designer dress. Joel said this is how monsters work. They hurt you and then they tell you you're beautiful. They damage and change you and then buy you presents. They don't let you out of their sight for very long and then they come back and take over your space. They invade your brain, control your every move and rip your poker face right off your head so your hair gets static cling and you get a scratch from a rough seam along the bottom edge of your jaw.

You can wear it tonight. The reaffirmation of his own monster-status alleviates my panic completely. As long as he's mean I'm comfortable. I know what to expect. I know how to behave. Not like it matters. Just listen and then comply. Shut out everything good so the inside is as black as the outside. Ball it all up so that you are smaller than ever. But don't forget to breathe.

Wait, wear what? The poker face or the dress?

Both.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

3-2.

I lost another two hundred dollars to Joel tonight when the Leafs lost to Columbus.

And Caleb is still in New York. He was supposed to be home yesterday and didn't show. And didn't call. And didn't message me. He messaged Henry so I know he's not in trouble. He's just extended his trip a bit. Or so he said.



(The cold reality of what we're thinking.)

Stop, look and listen
Maybe that's the way we'll know
Running this morning with PJ and Joel. I'm mostly trying to ignore them, listening to my headphones. Army of Anyone today and hey, I have a thought. If Richard Patrick isn't doing anything, since it's been a couple of years since the last Filter album, and I know Robert and Dean DeLeo aren't busy because Scott's dead and Chester left, and they can probably convince Ray Luzier that any supergroup is better than Korn and get back together and make their second album. Would you guys, pleeeeeeaaaaaase?
We've got a long way to go
Joel is adamant that I face my fears of being labelled and stop taking the label of monster or slut over victim. Fuck victim. I'm no one's victim. Payback is well underway to the perpetrator and it's been thirty years in the making. Joel says my behavior has also been thirty years in the making because of him and blaming myself and allowing others to blame me is just as dangerous and dysfunctional as seeking out a friend who lives three houses over and sleeping with him out of the blue.

Is it though? I like to think that I'm a cold, calculating seductress and I went and got what I wanted. When I tell Joel that he doubles over laughing, out of breath and patience.

Bridget, as soon as you admit the truth and stop sugarcoating everything in your life you'll be on your way. 

Sugar lubes everything I want to fuck. I'm already on my way, babe. 

I tell him this in my Gemma Teller voice and he just keeps laughing before PJ's face makes us stop fooling around and get serious with What To Do About Bridget This Time.

You gave everyone the Sparks notes on what happened. It's time they read the novel. 

I didn't write the novel. 

Bridget, stop twisting all the words and listen to me. Okay? 

He's right, Bridge. 

(PJ knows everything. I didn't sugarcoat it for him. That's why he made no moves when I showed up in his bed that night. He tried to save face and be all manly about it but really he saves my life on a regular basis.)

FINE. What should I do, master? Oh, and the worst idea of all is letting you run my show again.

Start by making sure Caleb is very clear on his role in this and how it has defined you. 

He doesn't define me. 

Bridget-

Fuck this. I pick up speed, jam the headphones back in and run far ahead of them. It's not slippery this morning so I can go as fast as I want. Of course the minute I do, my knees and ears begin to ache from the cold. I slow back down and the boys catch up, one on either side. PJ is content to let my brain outrun my legs but Joel is back with a fire I haven't seen from him in a while.

I'm going to talk to Caleb. And then I'm going to talk to everyone else in your life, Bridget. They'd rather help you than take advantage of you but you don't give them a choice. And yes, I know that from experience and I'd like to finally make things up to you for good. I can't stay here and babysit you forever. It's time to grow up now.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

'Your history isn't so horrible' says the internet.

You can say that because as I remarked in my title from today,  I haven't told it to you. Idiots.


Neamhchiontach/Stories I won't tell on the internet.

Can you imagine a piece of the universe
More fit for princes and kings?
I'll trade you ten of your cities
For Marion Bridge and the pleasure it brings

Out on the Mira the people are kind
They'll treat you to home-brew and help you unwind
And if you come broken you'll see that you mend
I wish I was with them again
Batman returned this morning. He let Jasper go, he asked why I didn't go to someone (I was too far gone and wait, I did go to someone. It just wasn't someone I've gone to before) and he said that Joel had already talked to New-Jake, Ben, Loch and everyone else involved and if anyone got angry with me I was to let him know.

What are you going to do, fire them?

No, I'm going to educate them. They sometimes only see Functional-Bridget. I think sometimes they forget. Especially Caleb, who would love to forget except I don't plan to let him. 

I nod. He was always particularly horrified by my history. He's even more horrified at my behavior since. How much I love the wrong people. How easy it is to step to the side of what is supposed to be clearly defined boundaries and do whatever I want. How scarily aloof I become afterward, as if it isn't me and I don't know what you're talking about. Are you mad at me? You're not leaving, are you? 

And on and on, ad nauseum.

Joel and August once again explained it in detail, eliciting sympathy instead of rage for me, reminding everyone why I'm the way I am, how things manifest, how I cope, factors that hurt, factors that help. How I am brave in that I refuse to excuse myself and instead face it full-on, opting for honesty instead of appearances, grace in the presence of horror.

I smile weakly. This isn't graceful or honest or excusable. I see Lochlan's eyes and I know how awful all of it is and yet he is strong enough to stay. Strong enough to push it all aside and try that much harder. Almost as strong as me.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Needed proof.

(In the dark he looked a little like Jeff Buckley.)
Maybe there's a God above
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
And it's not a cry that you hear at night
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
I woke up at seven in New-Jake's bed. Jasper was standing at the foot of the bed scowling beautifully at us, the cat that eats the canary, swallowing her bones whole while she screams. He asked if I wanted to eat some too, with a crowd to watch or if I preferred to buy his cooperation. He's an industrialist, he's a walking opportunity. He's a tight, burning asshole to me twenty-four seven and he figures he's finally hit the jackpot.

Batman is away so I went to check on New-Jake at four this morning (Because I'm up. Because I wander. Because I said I would try to stop it but I can't). I never came back. He was alone. He was lonely. Because I'm a sucker for a beautiful man and a magnet to a man with flaws, be they obvious or hidden, I stayed and we talked for a bit except Jake doesn't really talk, he smiles slowly and he watches and he listens well and he removes clothes with a finesse I would never have expected from a man who lives alone. He told me he doesn't like girls or boys better, he just likes certain things about certain people and he told me not to expect this to become anything more than a single dark rainy Monday in January but it was already too late. I fall in love so easily. I fall asleep more easily still. I let him touch me and I touched him back and then I curled up and wrapped him around me and the best part, the part Jasper will never get through his shriveled-up burnt little vainglorious brain is that I'm allowed to do what I want. As long as I initiate I don't need to apologize. I can take the advantage but no one is allowed to take it of me. The rules are easy. As long as I don't choose dangerously I don't need to come clean. I can come dirty, downcast my lashes, bite my lip and ride out any mild malcontention with eventual understanding.

Usually I don't capitalize on this because it's disrespectful, unfair and sometimes downright cruel. Sometimes it's payback. Sometimes I'm helpless. Sometimes I'm helpful, if someone needs to hurt out loud. Sometimes I can soothe without familiarity. Sometimes I have to pick the least of all the evils. Batman will be unimpressed with me for sure, but with Jasper he's going to be downright furious.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Deep-fried, medium-hot with blue cheese on the side.

The relief in the end of this week is tangible, palpable and there's nary a hint of suspicion or alterior motives or even future-grief. We slept so hard last night Lochlan had to pull me out of my dreams by my fingertips, a tenuous grip on an imaginary girl. Reality-Bridget isn't me, I am fantastical-Bridget in the burgeoning light.

He kisses up my throat, arching my back up off the warm bed, into his arms. His fingers are in places I don't discuss and when I cry out, Ben lands a hard, lingering kiss on my forehead before leaving. I reach out for him to stay but he won't, though he won't be far.

He said one night in passing that trying to share me at once was akin to trying to eat the same chicken wing. Lochlan laughed out loud forever when he said that and now every time someone suggests we go for wings they elbow each other and laugh again.

Sigh.

(Fun fact: up until a couple of years ago the boys would remove the bones from chicken wings for me because I don't like meat with bones still attached. Thankfully I've become a savage since then.)

I truly wonder if I were six feet tall if things would be easier for them. But I'm not, I'm five feet tall and they get what they get and it's kind of funny that I'm game now and they're not, when it used to be the other way around.

And just like that Ben is gone and my focus shifts back to the red curls as Lochlan hooks his chin against my shoulder and takes me into his arms. I forget everything. My name. That I was cold a moment ago. That there ever was a life in between the Midway and now. I hope there wasn't. I hope it was just a dream and this is the reality I will fall back into, a whole-life fantasy hinging on a magician with a wide-open heart and a penchant for telling me to eat my chicken because I'll need the energy to stay up all night with him and make so much love we won't know what to do with it all.

Yeah we did. We gave the rest to Ben. He comes back and I am given to him like an offering and he takes me whole. When he eats a chicken wing he eats it bones and all. I never expect to come out of this bed in one piece but that is maybe why the magician sticks around. It's a trick. It's an illusion.

It's exactly where I want to be on a Saturday morning. This place between dreams and real.

Friday, 8 January 2016

On keeping his word.

You'll be loved you'll be loved
Like you never have known
The memories of me
Will seem more like bad dreams
Just a series of blurs
Like I never occurred
Someday you will be loved
Lochlan's parenting style is overly-emotional, death-defying and fraught with danger and second-guessing. For his ease when he's with Ruth, without her he feels the weight of the entire world balanced on his shoulders. He abhors the thought of making a mistake or somehow choosing wrong, a decision which would then clearly open a Pandora's box of change that would lead her down a road he isn't comfortable taking, or some such disaster in the making. Any concern he's ever had for me as I grew up on the amusement circuit is magnified by no less than a million. He parents like a trooper. He worries like the best dad you ever saw. And there's never enough time, money or love, it seems. Sometimes he gets so rattled by the efforts he puts in that I have to remind him to relax, that Ruth is half-me, and therefore very resourceful.

Great. Just what I need, he groans. And I am relaxed. Can't you see?

Caleb, in contrast, has a cool collectedness about him. Henry is the greatest asset in Caleb's portfolio and he is managed and disbursed as such, filed in the roster with a value of infinite. Caleb takes his disciplinary cues from Lochlan, figuring if Ruth can do x at y age, then Henry can too. He does not worry because he's well-insured and there is always enough money to buy time and love. For his ease when he's with Henry, sometimes he gets so wrapped up in being who he is and ruling the world that I worry that one day the time is going to come when I will have to remind him that Henry needs him, possibly more than Caleb's other assets and projects need him, also that Henry is human, and half-me, that he needs limits and direction and love without distraction.

Great. Just what I need, he laments. Also, you will never have to remind me.

But they were both reserved and honest with our parenting coordinators this morning, who officially signed off on us at Caleb's request, as a show of good faith to me that he plans to keep his promises. We're wasting their time at this point anyway. There weren't actually many hiccups once Caleb ceased trying to use Henry as a weapon. We've had separate court counseling as well to address our habit of using litigation to sort out our personal problems, Caleb because that's what he knows and me because it was the only way I could garner his full attention. It's been recognized that we don't put the children in the center of our personal conflicts. We're just high-conflict as humans, not as parents. But now that the money's in place, the schedule is in place and we have resources close to home that allow for in-house care anyway (Thank you August and Sam), we don't need to do this anymore. We're in agreement with each other and with Lochlan. And other people need these resources more.

It was just wonderful to hear that after five years we figured out how to maintain this, and that as thoroughly unorthodox as our environment is, they turned it upside-down and inside-out and finally admitted it's not unhealthy or detrimental to the upbringing of the children, something Caleb liked to capitalize on every chance he got, something I never believed for a second. This is Utopia, and now I have proof.

He's trying and now I have proof of that too.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

One week in and it's tax season already.

I spent all day on the living room floor at the boathouse sorting last years receipts and now I'm semi-drunk and loving every second of it here at home on what is the final bottle (so proclaimed) of Lochlan's birthday scotch. He passed it around once and we get to keep the rest and now all ninety-eight pounds of me is beautifully lit from within and I can't feel my legs.

Or my eyes. My eyes are tired. I wore my glasses and still the bright white paper and tiny printing does me in faster than it used to. Thankfully I'm incredibly organized and Caleb follows my instructions to keep things that way. My taxes are going to be complicated this year. So are PJ's, frankly and New Jake's and Lochlan's now too. I like straightforward things. I like sober, easy fill-in-the-blank things.

I like this warmth. And I like the warmth from Lochlan too. He's not straying so far tonight. I'm not sure if it's a desire to keep me safe from the other wolves or if he just missed me today. I don't care which answer it is, I just like it. I'm spinning. I have to go be warm and content and not look at anything with numbers on it.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Benproof.

Bleeding I'm
Crying I'm
Falling I'm
Bleeding out
Ben and I had a takeout picnic last night downstairs in his studio. He played me some new things and I ate a little (still not much of an appetite) and then I put my head down on my arm in the new big egg chair that hangs from the ceiling that he put in so I could spin and listen to music (Disturbed) on the bluetooth headphones he bought for me the day after the chair arrived because the first time I pulled twenty feet of cord across the room to that chair and set it in motion I couldn't get back out afterward. I had tied myself up.

God forbid.

(That ain't my job.)

I fell asleep. It's kind of inevitable when I stop moving. I'm not very good company after about ten o'clock at night to be honest. It's the narcolepsy or the endless exhaustion but I was out like a light.

Until Ben turned me back on because he couldn't see.

I woke up to Numb thundering through my skull and all of my weight on my shoulders, which was the only part of me left in the chair. Ben had pulled my hips down with his hands and was holding me off the ground, my dress shoved up over my waist, my thigh-high socks still on, boots still on, underwear God knows where. I haven't found it yet.

Glad you're awake. I didn't want to start without you. He grinned in the dim light from the board as he drove himself home, finding a very easy bounce-back from the swinging of the chair, with just enough leverage to shove me back hard into him every time he pushed me away.

Oh my God.

His hands were holding my hips so tightly I thought my bones would snap. I thought the chair would snap. I thought Bridget might snap. He finally swore and took me right out of the chair, settling for the floor. Still sitting up, my legs wrapped around his hips but he wouldn't let me up to meet him, keeping me flat on the floor with his hand wrapped around my neck, fucking me so hard my eyes watered as I settled for holding on to the sides of his knees.

He smiled and finally bent down for a kiss, pulling off the headphones for me to be met with stark silence.

You okay? 

No, not yet. I need more. 

Something in his eyes changed, softened, and he reached down and pulled me up into his arms. Finally. I used my knees for leverage on either side of his hips to show him what I could do, and he reached up to my head with both hands and kissed me so hard I couldn't breathe and when I stopped moving he took over again, pulling me in and away, in and away until we couldn't get any closer together but we kept trying just in case we were wrong. Faster. Harder. Rug burn on my knees. Razor burn under my jaw and across my shoulder. Bruises already forming on my hips and my neck from his grip.

More, please.

Come on, Bridget. Show me what you've got. 

And I put my arms up around his neck and I hung on for dear life and I showed him my world and he rocked it for good measure, making sure it went back to upright when he was done. He lifted me up in his arms as he stood and dumped me back in the chair half-dressed, smiling at me.

What?

I love you. So fucking much. And that chair. I love that too. And that outfit. 

I love you, Benjamin. 

Don't wear anything else. 

I can't find the rest of it to put back on.

That's fine. It doesn't need anything else. 


Ready to go upstairs? 

Two hours until breakfast.

What? What time is it?

Four-thirty. 

Why did you let me sleep so long? 

Because I was enjoying watching you, and because I was trying to figure out how to work that chair so that it wouldn't come out of the ceiling with you still in it.

He shuts off the rest of the lights and unlocks the door, holding it open so we can see. We can go up and doze with Lochlan until six-thirty. You ready? 

I nod. I'm ready. I'm going commando again here but I'm ready. He kisses the top of my head as I go past him, keeping me there for just one moment more.

I want this
More than you know
I need this
Give it back to me

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Hob-snobbing.

(So cranky when I'm sick.)
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me
Motherfucker
This morning I realized that I'm still not fit for public consumption after the simple act of putting on a dress and heels and sitting at a boardroom table with a pickup truck full of cute but far too young lawyers nearly did me in. They were comparing Starbucks orders and talking about getting Coachella tickets and Caleb kicked me under the table four or five times for laughing.

It's okay though, I was laughing at them, not with them. Because I'm old and I care not for complicated coffee orders or festivals showcasing bands I've never heard of.

Okay wait. Going to look at the list. Yes, I've heard of three of the names. I used to like Guns and Roses, right up through Use your Illusion and then I left them for greener pastures, or heavier metal, as it were.

I know who Ice Cube is. He's in 21 Jump Street.

I know who Halsey is only because Ruth is a Twenty One Pilots maniac and squealed for days when she heard a rumor that Halsey was dating the drummer. She made me listen to her album and it's not all that bad though everywhere I went for two weeks afterward seemed to be playing her over the sound system. When they're not playing Twenty One Pilots, I mean. Why aren't they playing Coachella?

And I don't know what an iced half-caf venti three-pump sugar-free dolce soy skinny latte is. It sounds complicated. It sounds terrible. I'm guessing it's cold, bitter and only marginally caffeinated? Probably drunk by lawyers. Very young ones.

When we left the offices, the Devil asked if we could talk.

That's all we've been doing and I still haven't had a cup of coffee which would really help soothe my throat. 

I can fix that, he said.

His coffee comes with valet parking and is ordered with two words.

Coffee, please.

 Beat that, Mermaid.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Routine.

I want to tell you about my dreams and
You don't know the half of me
And there's nothing left to save me now
Nothing to save me now
Three days left of antibiotics and everyone has pitched in handily to help dismantle the Christmas trees and decorations and the house is back in order (almost) and we did a huge grocery shop this morning to replenish the food supply, only I wasn't permitted to do much more than make the list and make sure my shoppers stuck to it, as Ben and PJ, when left to their own devices will come home with crates of pizza pops and froot loops, ice cream and...guitar strings. Which you can't even buy at the grocery store but that's okay, they took a run in to Tom Lee or Long McQuade and didn't have much time for groceries as a result but this will be okay, won't it? 

No. Sadly. You can't run a commune on ice cream any more than you can run it on love, as I'm finding out. I test waters and get burned or frozen out and then wind up trying to find my way back to comfortable, tepid, or lukewarm with those I love most.

Duncan got torn to shreds by Lochlan and then by Caleb too and he looked at them with his perfect mix of cool annoyance and said he didn't need this shit. That he didn't do anything and so if they have some sort of issues with future plans or the intentions of Ben or Bridget or both of us than maybe they should come and talk to us.

Duncan is telling me this out back with contraband coffee under the patio heater because I refuse to acknowledge the snow lest it get familiar and want to stay a while.

He laughs bitterly. At least if I'm going to get ripped open it would have been nice to have the goods before I do the time, you know? It's like going to jail for thinking about robbing the bank. Which is no good unless it gives you money to spend, right?

I'm sorry. They're trying to protect me.

I am the most harmless person here, I think, Bridget. Me and Dalt are anyway. So they're barking up the wrong fucking tree. 

Who is the most dangerous, do you think?

Loch. For sure. 

Really? I would have said he's the least. Why did you pick him?

Because not only is he smarter than the rest of us, he has the most to lose. That's a deadly combination. 

How is he smarter?

He somehow managed to channel enough patience and planning to steal you from Caleb for good. I didn't think I would ever see the day. 

It's not a competition. 

Maybe not to you but to them you are the fucking Olympics. 

Great. 

Except that everyone knows the IOC is corrupt and the games are rigged. 

So what are you saying? 

Don't ever assume you guys are in the clear and that Caleb's going to give up on you. You are the only thing he wants and no way in hell is he going to let some gypsy juggler with no assets take that away from him. 

So for three minutes I felt better and now I feel worse again, Dunk.

Hey, you and me are fine. Aren't we? And Caleb and Loch are the same as ever. 

That's what bothers me. 

Don't let it. They're just two little boys in the sandbox fighting over the best toy, and while they were doing that someone came in and took it. That's Ben. No one gives him enough credit. 

I do. 

Make sure he knows, Bridge.

I try to. 

Try harder. I think he gets lost in this testosterone shuffle sometimes. It's why he hides. 

I thought he was writing. 

Same thing, Poem.


Sunday, 3 January 2016

Bridgeburners.

All of the shoulders Lochlan is giving to Ben lately are ice-cold. He's angry. Even though New Years Eve has traditionally had a short memory and a long forgiveness period it's clear nothing has changed. The Devil is hungrier than ever, Ben's own cravings never cease and we're going to enter into 2016 like she's a reluctant bride on her wedding night.

(Oh, I didn't coin that phrase but it made me laugh because I'm crass and was raised by wolves.)

I hope they make up soon. We need a united front right now to provide support for Sam, and for Caleb, both of whom seem to exist in perpetual midlife crises these days.

Sam and Matt have filed for divorce. Uncontested. No children, no joint assets and a pro-rated, retroactive separation date achieved with advice from my good lawyers and a lot of travel on Matt's side. This seems cheap and harsh to me, as if marriage can be boiled down to a few pieces of paper, some dates and a judge to sign off, eventually. I wouldn't know, though. I've never made it to that stage of life, if you want to be technical. I offered them my lawyers paid time but they're going to DIY. I offered them anything they needed and I tried not to cry but when I did anyway I got to be the meat in a Matt and Sam-wich and that was nice, at least. They're walking the high road together and I maintain we could learn more than just a thing or two from them, even though I wish they would keep trying.

Duncan finds all of this inevitable and sad and maintains this is why he refuses to indulge in relationships. He said it with a huge smirk, though.

That look destroys your credibility, Poet. 

Almost bagged you, Bridge. 

No, you did not and any embellishment on New Years Eve can be kept to your and Ben's collective imaginations. 

You never ever want to see those.

Right, I don't.

What happened to the Curious Miss Bee?


Good question. Oh, Batman's here. Great.

I need to go help Sam.

Bridget, can I have a word?

Sure. How about no? No is a good word.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

The specialist.

No change, I can change
I can change, I can change
But I'm here in my mold
I am here in my mold
But I'm a million different people
from one day to the next
I can't change my mold
No, no, no, no, no
The New Year exploded dramatically with the pop of a champagne cork and a burst of fireworks lighting up the night sky over the water. We celebrated on the beach in the cold because we're smart like that. Smarter still was slow-dancing with Duncan in the living room and then Ben telling me if I wanted to go further that I could. That he would run any interference that I needed and I nodded that I understood and then I went out to the garage. I wrote about that yesterday.

But you didn't write about when you went back inside. 

Because there's nothing to talk about unless you want a graphic description of my dreams and the drool on my pillow. Trust me, nobody wants that. 

Did you sleep with Duncan, Neamhchiontach? 

No! Jesus Christ. Give me some credit here. I told you, I'm not going to risk or ruin anyone else. 

What about Sam? 

Sam is already ruined, but not by me. He is the architect of his own demise. And what does he have to do with any of this? 

I see things no one thinks I see. 

What if there's nothing to see at all? What if it's just smoke or darkness? 

I see right through that. I'm the Devil, remember? 

***

Lochlan and I are making pancake-faces and talking quietly. No one is up yet but early mornings have always been our favorite time, before the world gets busy, noisy and crowded.

What are your resolutions this year, Peanut?

To listen to more metal, eat less junk and walk more to keep my knees from seizing. To paint more and talk to ghosts less. I look at him quickly, seeking approval but he's closed-cards this morning. And to depend less on you for behavioral cues because you've become everyone's favorite table-flipper (but I don't say that out loud.) What about you?

I'm going to quit drinking and try and not be so hard on you. He reaches over to pull me close but I'm busy-busy flipping pancakes and trying not to let him see my eyes flood over.

It's fine. I'm not easy. 

You're impossible, he says it softly.

If I'm so horribly flawed why are you still here?

Because I love you. You're part of me. 

You love me in spite of the way I am. 

Yes. 

Than stop trying to change it. 

That's the plan, Peanut. I'm just going to give up on our dream of the perfect life, because that's the only way I can do this. 

I throw the spatula down and turn and stare at him. I don't know where this is coming from. I didn't do anything. The pancakes start to singe but we're so used to burning smells we don't react until the fire alarm starts wailing and the room fills with smoke and people. People who are really concerned and want the smoke cleared out before the sprinklers kick in.

OH SHIT.

When the dust settles and we have our breakfast (now with all the windows open freezing us both to bits in penance for such an irresponsible argument, or as Lochlan put it, We know fire! We weren't going to let anything happen to a house full of sleeping people! Jesus Christ! Give us some credit! And Ben looked at him and said No. Then he said we would eat the burned pancakes too.) we resume our quiet fight, slinging words, hitting targets. I finally find the key.

Are you really that angry about Duncan?

What? No! I know damn well you're not going to sleep with him. What I'm worried about is that the Devil will wear you down. That's how they get to you. They control you.

Teach them everything you know, did you?

He looks out the window. Why is everything a fight?

Because you're not my keeper.

I love you!

Everyone does! You're not special.

He gets a bottle and drinks a quarter of it, slams it down and then sits. Defeated. Eyes closed. Body on fire, probably. Finally he speaks. Thought I was.

You are! The most! But I can say things to hurt you right back. Let me just learn from the best here, Lochlan!

He laughs and passes me the bottle. Take some. It cuts the burned taste. 

Thanks. 

We're not so bad. Are we so bad?

We're awful. 

Terrible. 

The worst. 

Can I be honest? 

Why not?

I really thought you were going to go with Duncan. 

And what would you have done?

I would have killed him. And then Ben. And then probably you. 

Wow. Okay, so good choice in staying put. I'll drink to that. But don't be scary, Lochlan. 

Can't help it. It's the only thing that gets your attention. I just want our simpler life back. You and me. When things were boiled down to comfort and adventure and it wasn't this big complicated mess. 

Well, be patient because I think it's coming. Maybe sooner than you expect. 

The Devil is going to break you. 

I'll break him first.

Friday, 1 January 2016

The jealous ghost and the new year.

A little drunk I am, but I'm never nearly drunk enough for this.

Happy New Year, Preacher. 

You should watch how much they give you. Duncan is circling you like a shark. 

Funny how the Devil is twisting my life up in knots and yet they worry about the poet.

The poet is a more immediate threat because you'll use him to deflect your fear of Caleb and to distract them. 

Shhhh. Stop telling all my secrets. Or maybe start telling some of yours. What is he going to tell me?

I wish I knew but I don't. 

Bullshit, Jacob. 

You can trust me. 

No I can't. That ship sailed when you did.

He stares at me from the dim edges of the room while I stand bathed in moonlight in a square beaming in from the windows high up in the garage door. He's still so big unlit. He still looms so large in my heart as he takes my hands and pulls me in close to dance with him to silence.

Bridget, you need to find out what he's hiding. 

Will it change anything?

I don't know but it isn't fair. The truth is the way. 

Life isn't fair, Jakey, and sometimes the truth hurts. 

Where is Ben? He can get you sobered up here. 

He's busy trying to engineer an evening with Duncan I think. Sorry. He loves to watch. I cover my mouth when a half-laugh, half-sob escapes. He's too fast even for me, sometimes.

Maybe you are better off with Caleb rather than the two of them. 

Never, I tell him. Thanks for the dance.