Wednesday, 19 July 2017

#poly.

I woke up like this. Hair suddenly past my shoulders in big loopy waves. Longer than Lochlan's hair. Perfect for space buns or a braid even, though I mostly looked like I rolled out of bed at any given moment. Not a lie most of the time but still, I'm somewhat relieved that the pixie cut days are two years past me now and by Christmas or next spring at the latest my mermaid hair will be back in force. 

I only mention it because Caleb mentioned it this morning when I woke up. I think your hair grew overnight. 

He's not pleased or disappointed, he's well-reputed in liking my hair chin length or shorter and so I promptly said Good, I can't wait until I can sit on it again and then I got the expected grim set of his beautiful mouth as he doesn't choose to have a poker face sometimes either. 

He lobbied hard for a brief escape for me yesterday out of the blue and won, exchanging a date later in the month for last evening and so we watched horror movies and sipped Lagavulin until our eyes were heavy and our hands useless. Then I slept. A full eight hours without a single interruption before he woke me at six thirty, pinning me beneath him, one hand around my neck, one eye on the clock as he had a meeting downtown. I was walked across the driveway when he was dressed afterward in a full suit of regret, as he said there is nothing more awful then leaving me in his bed if he can't be home and so I had to go and I pouted just for him, as he quickly found out I wasn't doing bunny ears at all the other day on the beach. 

He kissed my bottom lip and said he loves that too and that maybe he'll be over for dinner tonight, that he'll let me know how the day goes. He left me in Sam's hands and I feel as if I'm being passed around a lot lately when Lochlan's overly busy with things with Batman (whom he still claims not to work for anymore) and I'm not sure if it's just a coincidence or a direct result of Jay coming back. I just know that my dance card is full and so is my bed lately and I'm not sure I mind, exactly. I got my hand slapped for flirting with him on the beach and maybe it's shame or embarrassment that makes my hair grow faster. I'm sure I'll find out which soon enough.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

I'm just now realizing how much of their influence made me who I am today.

My whole life they've called me a reverse-vampire, loving the light, up with the sun, disappearing when the sun went to bed. Don't get me wrong, I adore the late-night lights and noise of the midway but I'm also holding my eyelids open with my fingers to take it all in.

I think that's all changed now. I still wake up at the crack of ridiculous, swim in the coffee pot until I think I can open my mouth to speak without a hundred different voices all screaming the same indignation coming out but I can't even be in the sun for a minute anymore. I'm instantly headachey, over-heated, under-hydrated and overwhelmingly miserable.

I didn't swim today. The minute I opened my face to complain about the heat Duncan threw me off the cliff. There I remained, floating on my back, trying to teach him a lesson without getting too nervous doing it. It's difficult to turn your back on Bridget's Undersea Imaginary Creature Keepers.

Why's she so scared?

There's a Buick at the bottom. (GET IT? Cole made the acronym, I provided the fearful tears. There was actually an old car at the bottom of the lake when we were growing up. Well, there was until the early eighties when it was towed out, empty. It turns out it was only a frame with a couple of body panels bolted to it that a homeowner put in to practice his scuba diving and then moved away and left it.)

Really? 

Yeah. We told her it was full of people who are still there to this day, waiting for helpless souls to come close so they can grab them by the legs and possess their bodies to live again. 

That was fucking dumb. She's going to drown, trying to swim and scream at the same time. 

We'll save her. 

In a minute. 

They laugh, or so I imagine they did and I never swam without a buddy ever again. I still don't, honestly and that's why I have to wait here for Duncan to jump in after me. The creatures can't have my soul since I don't have one but right now I'd auction his off to the lowest bidder. Name your price.

And then Ben hits the water right beside me and I almost drown anyway, getting pushed under by the huge wave of displacement when he hits.

He brings us both up at once. I'm sure when he opens his eyes my face must have been a nightmare, an angry, bratty, waterlogged scowl of a nightmare when he'd rather see a smile.

How long would you have waited? Loch said something about a Pontiac. I had no idea what he was going on about. 

Buick. 

I don't understand. You're afraid of Buicks? 

Yes. No. It's a long story. 

It's a long swim back, Bee. Tell me. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Terribly good.

I walked on the beach this morning with Jay (Jacob/New-Jake, you know who he is). We took our sweaters, our mugs full of coffee and Caleb with us. No harm, no foul seems to be the rule of the day. They all want Jay here. They worked out their issues, somehow sure we're not doomed to repeat history and he's asked for Jay's help in keeping me 'safe'. 

The only thing she has to fear here is us. 

You. 

And a number of others. 

Right. 

Then what do you want me to do?

Not fuck this up.

Jay throws his hands up. If you're asking me if I can keep my hands to myself I can but if she instigates-

She won't. 

I bite my tongue and close my eyes so hard I see black spots and waver magnificently. Caleb puts out one hand and steadies me without even looking. 

If she does-

Then we'll deal with her. 

I've seen the way you deal with her and I think you're all fucked in the head and she's the sanest one here. 

I love you. I gaze at Jay and smile. His whole face breaks into a reciprocal smile and I forgot how cute he can be. 

She doesn't mean that the way you think, Caleb tells him.

I'm aware. I don't know if you've noticed but we've known each other five years now. 

That's the equivalent of an hour compared to the rest of us. 

What's your point, Caleb? 

I think you fit in here. I think you can hold your own. And yet you seem to been almost gleefully exploiting her weaknesses when we're trying to build her up. I guess I don't understand what you're doing. 

We get alone really great. She's a like-minded individual. We mesh. Hell, she's been great to me. I fucked up and touched her. I thought it was okay. I didn't realize only certain guys can. I won't do that again. I'd like to stay though. It's a good place to be. I understand the repercussions mean I leave forever so I don't want to have that happen. I learned my lesson.

But you're a time bomb. 

Medically, yes. But otherwise if I make you a promise I'll keep it. 

I frown and stick out my lower lip because I have zero chill and no poker face and Jacob sees me and laughs out loud. By the time Caleb turns to look at me I've fixed it and I'm frowning at him. 

What did you do?

Bunny ears. 

Ah. Glad you're taking your own future seriously, Bridget.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Jesus chores.

Worn out. Long day. I was handed a big glass of whiskey with ice and I took it. The ice is long melted but I'm still sipping. Three days away wasn't enough. I need a week or two to unwind but it's been hectic since March around here with precious few stretches of total calm.

Sam reminds me it's life. You handle what you can and leave the rest to Him. 

When he says this I startle as he assumes so easily that I know who he means and I fumble for a name. Maybe Lochlan. Ben? Caleb. Jacob the ghost. Batman. Uh. Oh. God.

Right. He's not going to pick up my slack and get the car maintenance done, buy new socks for the boys or get groceries while I'm busy tackling other things on the list, but if he is willing, tell him to text me and let me know which things I can delegate.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Albatross.

When I woke up I had them both in a head lock and my shoulders were screaming. I think that's what woke me up, the sound of my whole body protesting, having fallen asleep in a painful position that took several minutes to change. I had one arm around Ben's neck and one around Lochlan's and yet I was lying on my stomach so my arms were pulled back up and hard. They seemed content on their sides, arms crossed over my back, touching each other to make sure no one left in our sleep. And no one did, I made sure of it.

I had just stopped sleeping with my sling on for protection from my elbow that got pulled out again. This morning is now Vicodin laced with coffee for me and there are elves in the trees and rainbows shooting from my eyes but at least nothing hurts now. I mean I can't actually feel my arms or my legs or my teeth and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to bake Henry's birthday cake like this but I think I'll have a lot of help.

Daniel is coming over to help me this morning. The boys are going golfing. Danny doesn't golf. He and I have fucked-up shoulders, elbows and legs and actually I lie. It's boring as fuck and I hate it even though I'm really good at it. I scored a 97 on my last game of nine holes. I'm a natural, clearly.

Lochlan has promised not to throw any clubs. Caleb hasn't. Should I be worried? Ben said he wouldn't eat or bend any clubs and no one believed him. Then he winked and assured me he will keep Lochlan in line, though I think Lochlan will last about five holes before his own arm issues put him on the sidelines. That will piss him off too though, so I'm glad I'm not going.

After baking and decorating if there's any time left we're going to work on my outfits and gifts for Burning Man. SO excited.

Friday, 14 July 2017

All I have.

It was only after Ben moved off me, stretching out to sleep in the dark that he spoke, and I didn't even know he was there. I jumped right out of my skin. It was cold, sure, but at least it didn't have the sting of Ben's razor burn all over.

Of course my bones all fell to the floor in a heap. Teeth too, and my brain rolled away under the bed and so I couldn't think of anything good to say and even if I could have, I wouldn't have been able to say it.

You didn't wait for me. 

Lochlan's voice has a jealous tinge, a beautiful kelly-green shade that turns it thick, luminous-rich.

My finger bones team up, find my brain, pull out some words and run them through my teeth until sound comes out.

Sorry. 

Not her fault, Ben says from his dreams. I don't think he's noticed he's still holding my skin from where I leapt from it. I think he finds it to be a security blanket. It won't cover him though, if you stretch it out square I think I'm the size of a king pillowcase.

Good enough, Ben says. He covers one side of his torso with it and goes back to sleep. Sorry, he says again and my brain flexes in a cringe. Once Ben's out, he's out like the dark. He sleeps like the dead. It scares me but right now I have more important things to do, like stand here to juggle these hearts because God help us all if they roll away somewhere out of reach.

I was here waiting for you. More luminous slime pours from Lochlan and my bones rattle faintly as they shake.

You didn't say anything when we came in. My brain is doing a masterful job of finding words that fit together. It's a puzzle. One for ages 8+. One I probably couldn't finish if I tried.

My bones float to the surface of his ire, still jangling faintly against each other and he swallows me whole, chewing on my brain because it's tough and bigger than it looks. He chokes it back and swallows.

Now my teeth have nothing to read.

Sleep, Bridgie. We'll talk about it tomorrow. 

I close my eyes with the finger I can reach. It's like when someone dies and you reach out and press their eyelids down over their pupils because they're never going to see you again. I did that for Cole so he couldn't find me anymore. It worked too well. Sometimes I miss him too and then I'm swimming in Lochlan's green pool, while monsters from the depths of his soul reach for my legs to pull me under. I scream at the thought and his jealousy floods down my throat into my toes, filling up my skin, leaving Ben exposed, at risk of losing everything.

I piece together one whole hand to leave resting on Ben's heart. He'll be safe that way while I sacrifice myself. That's how it's done around here, or so I've been told.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Best listened to very loud with headphones on the edge of a cliff, I swear to you, but sadly my piano is inside.

This doesn't seem to be anywhere on the Internet so I'm putting it up for others. I'm working out the piano for it and I need to sing at the top of my lungs to do that, but the words were nowhere to be found. I managed to transcribe it myself, in spite of being deaf, so some of it could be misheard.

Behold, the lyrics for I Remember, by Les Friction featuring Emily Valentine. Well done. It's beautiful!

Some lies can live on their own
No need to assist
Some lies will circle around til love pulls it down
I’ve set a course for losing you
I’ve no remorse for what I do

We say nothing, holding it in
How did we travel this far
Knowing that our light will fade
Remember nothing, Let it all go
We’ll live our destiny alone

The truth is in a whisper, your life is in a kiss
Hands can’t be held when they’re clenched into a fist
Your eyes are a crime frozen in time
This prison is yours

Feel me Heal me
Feel me Heal me

I don’t want to remember
I’m moving to newer frontiers
I will build my own empire and banish myself from me there
I don’t to want remember the life I chose
I will burn our destiny
Because you and I will always be alone

Feel me Heal me
Feel me Heal me
Feel me Heal me
Feel me Heal me

I remember the reason I built myself
You and I can tear it all down and let the past begin to melt
I remember eternity, love I don’t
I will fight for our destiny
because you and I will never be alone

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

You've missed everything.

(Just a footnote from your friendly neighborhood masochist Princess: The beginning of this post features a decade-old memory as detailed here.)

He leaned his head against mine where I sat trying to read in fading light. Princess. Put your book away. 

I want to finish it tonight. 

Do that tomorrow. He takes the book, carefully marking my page, and places it on the side table. Then he pulls me to my feet. His pale blue eyes crinkle up into a soft smile. Tomorrow's a big day. 

No more training wheels. 

No more training wheels. 

Henry's going to try riding without them. And yet instead of a bribe Jacob got down on his knees and asked Henry to consider something that might make him feel even more excited than if he got a new toy as a reward for trying something difficult.

Like what? Henry is rapt.

What if you had all kinds of good feelings burst forth from deep inside, the kind that remind you that you're doing your very best? 

Those are good but I'm presently collecting Hot Wheels. Henry is as stubborn as his mother.

Jacob laughs out loud. Maybe we can arrange for both Hot Wheels and good feelings? 

Deal, Henry is firm. They shake on it. It's official now, can't go back.

He's ready, I tell Jake, who seems concerned suddenly.

You're right. Why are you so calm and sure with them and so unsure about so many other things?

No one's bribing me with Hot Wheels. I laugh and he purposefully flips open my book and moves the bookmark to a random page.

I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU JUST DID THAT. 

WELL I DID. 

He pulls me in close and I get a kiss. His beard is rough. His hands, rougher as they slide up my ribcage under my shirt. I'm almost off the ground trying to reach his face and I lean into him hard-

BRIDGET. 

I open my eyes. My memory thief is looking at me over his shoulder as he opens up his briefcase and then starts pulling drawers out, dumping them in whole. The briefcase is bottomless, and my memories disappear into the black hole.

Looks like I forgot a few. Sorry about that. 

What about the letters you wanted me to read? 

Those are instructions and reminders, not walks down memory lane. They can't hurt you. 

Neither can he. You are, though. 

No, I'm helping. 

This isn't helping. Leave me be, Sam. Please. 

He finishes the whole filing cabinet and instead of opening the next one he comes over to me. I make a note of which one is left. O though T. Got it. Bridget, we love you and we don't want to see you suffer. 

I roll over, pull the quilts in tightly around my frame and close my eyes. If I can drop back into this dream, I'll be able to breathe next time I wake up. Or at least I hope I can.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Bumblebees.

No sooner does the dust settle from school ending (forever ending for Ruth, who's going to University in the fall, having navigated graduation ceremonies and dry-grad dinner/dance with ease, having achieved a medal for excellence, a merit scholarship and honour roll on her way out the door, but Henry turns sixteen this coming weekend and I feel like the record of my life has suddenly spun up to 78 rpm and I'm clinging to it with my teeth.

This Monday I'll take him in to write for his learner's permit, and then the boys will begin to teach him how to drive. He swears he knows already, having played GTA, promptly failed the online practice test, and realized he has to actually read the book. Once he is reasonably competent I'll spend the next year letting him chauffeur me around town while I yell out the last-minute instructions he will be expected to remember (and utilize) for a lifetime.

Yeesh. Ruth just got her Novice license in February. It feels like yesterday. It was yesterday. Jesus. This is what happens when you have children less than two years apart in age. It's easier than spreading it out but also far more pressure all at once.

I'm busy as a bee today though, finalizing birthday plans, plotting surprises, wrapping like mad and like I said, just trying to hang on. It feels sometimes as if there's a birthday just about every weekend, and that's because there almost is. The balloon people know me by name, I buy wrapping paper in bulk, and my cake pans hardly ever make it to the pan-drawer, as everyone likes my homemade cakes the best.

No pressure at all.

Monday, 10 July 2017

He still asks the same first question every year when we go to the fair.

Fried cat tail? Andrew smiles and takes a huge bite of a corn dog. I'm seven years old, and we're back together for the summer or at least a week of it during midway season, which my family spent travelling all around the coast each year.

They're not cat tails! I'm scornful and bossy. We're equals in this relationship. He teases me and I call him out because I'm convinced I am smarter.

Would you rather have a candy apple? Those brown ones are rotten. They've been in the window too long. They give those ones out at night when people can't see so good. 

So well. 


Oh well is right. We won't be here that late anyway so we're safe. 

They're caramel, Andrew. Geeeeez. 

Nope. Rotten red. Old candy coating. It petrifies. 

Petri-what?

Petrifies. That means it gets hard and turns to stone because it has air circulation so it doesn't get moldy.

Oh. 

Why don't you know these words? 

I go to French school. 

Oh yeah. What about math? 

I do it in French. 

Are the numbers the same?

I think so. 

But what if you have a math problem in English? 

I'll have to ask someone to do it for me. Just like if someone has a French math problem they can ask me. 

But are you any good at it? 

No, not really. 

Then I'll buy you a cat tail to eat because I feel bad for you. And I got my allowance this morning. 

How much did you get? 

Five dollars. 

Wow. Lucky. 

I got a raise because I turned eight, remember? 

Yeah. Andrew?

Yeah? 

Do you think we'll still be doing this when we're grownups?

Of course. But we'll have way more money to spend. And I'll still be able to help you with the English math.

Promise? 

Of course.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Sheltering in place.

Lochlan put his hand around the back of my neck just as I stirred awake this morning, gave me a kiss that left me breathless and said he was calling in hooky to church this morning. Sam sat up and asked if he thought he might get caught and I laughed too because I think Lochlan forgot Sam was even there.

He was. We fell asleep last night whispering about all the things we love. New bars of soap. Campfires. Glitter. Canoe trips in quiet lakes. Finding unusual colors of sea glass. Marshmallows toasted just right. Friendly horses, friendlier owners. Very good lemonade. Long hard hugs. I fell asleep with the most beautiful thoughts in my head, and when I woke up, Lochlan was there with that kiss.

That glorious kiss.

Three of us called in hooky to church and set the tone for the whole point to be heathens along with us and not show up.

(It's actually okay. Sam's second minister was leading the service this week anyway.)

Dalton made crepes for us for breakfast.

What are crepes again? 

Think really thin pancakes. 

Like a thin-crust pizza versus regular?

Yes?

I'll pass. 

But they're full of whipped cream and chocolate.

I'm back in. 

Figures.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Another day, another...well.. God we fight a lot.

Today is quiet and warm. Twenty-eight and climbing and I've used up my chlorine-exposure allowance for the day too early, switching to the cliffs just before lunch, jumping off and swimming back so many times even Duncan got tired and begged for a break.

Once more then, and we'll stop. 

Jesus, Lochlan must have had his hands full raising you. 

Lochlan nods. You should see her begging for one more candy apple. Christ. It was like trying to bottle lightning. 

Good things shouldn't have a time limit. 

I agree, Lochlan says and my knees buckle.

There she goes, Duncan laughs, and grabs me up to throw me off the cliff. I shriek and he goes running and then I sail through the air, loving the first two seconds, and freezing for the last three before smashing into the water hard, turning my blood to ice, waking me up, forcing me back up to the surface where I fill my lungs again. The colors are brighter, the water feels solid, the world is a second-chance in that moment. That's why I do it. I give myself his second chance. Jacob hit hard, there was no surface to fight back to, no more breath, no colors, no Bridget after that.

I turn and lie on my back, giving Lochlan the thumbs up as Duncan lands in the water just a little further out. Yes, I'm fine. Am I ever fine? I don't do this because it's a thrill, because I love the feeling of falling, I do it to baptize myself again and I fail but I keep trying.

We climb up the steps and are met with fresh towels. Ready to go in? 

Yes, I lie. Hey, Loch? Can we get candy apples? 

Yes, we can. Just one though. He laughs and then is serious again. You okay? 

Not so much. 

I don't want you jumping off anymore. 

That's like telling someone not to breathe. 

No it isn't-

LET ME. 

HEY. He grabs my arm and yanks me back. I didn't say you couldn't. I said I don't WANT YOU TO. There's a difference, Bridget. LISTEN instead of reacting. 

WHEN HAVE I EVER DONE THAT?

Wish you would. He looked so sad suddenly. It was like I was looking in a mirror and my breath caught again in my chest. I'm sorry, Lochlan.

We're here. We're living. No one said it was going to be easy but it's better than THAT. He points to the cliff again. Fuck his faith, Bridget. You said I don't have any, well I have a hell of a lot more than Jake ever did, and don't you forget it. 

Friday, 7 July 2017

No spoilers.

I am older than I once was
And younger than I'll be
But that's not unusual
No it isn't strange
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same
It's early and it's not hot, it's simply beautiful out, a balmy twenty-two degrees in the wind, a Bridget Day if ever there was one. Today is a better day by far, one that I needed. One I fought for. I got the last croissant. I made a whole pot of coffee and PJ only stole a small cup, leaving the whole thing for me. I'm on my last cup now. I switched out tapestries on the tables in the house and out by the pool. I have dozens. In amongst them I found my old pants. Crazy wrap-around tie-dyed harem pants. Softest cotton ever. I put them on with an army green tank top and Lochlan laughed when he saw them.

I didn't think you still had those, he said.

I'm going to get five more pairs. These are the best.

Seriously? 

Well they're more fun than the endless parade of black dresses and leggings, aren't they? 

In a way, yes. But he is unconvinced. I think he's grown used to the little black cloud. It's okay, so have I. But when I'm not wearing black I'm wearing tie-dye, patchwork or some recycled sari concoction. I used to be so colorful. Sometimes I still am. Lochlan started that, too.

He kidnapped me last night and we went out front to the little grotto under the trees, now lush and private thanks to the ever encroaching forest around this house. It grows into a little green cave each summer, redolent with hollyhocks and the smell of cedar. Lochlan had the bluetooth speaker playing softly, and he brought the picnic basket with a late dinner and some champagne.

He talked for a long time. I watched him and ate and drank and after not all that long I was full and almost-drunk and very sleepy and we were square. Then he handed me off to Caleb for more concentrating under duress and Caleb made his amends as well and we're back to the square with the one on it and that's good. Or maybe it's late. Or maybe I had too much champagne and my eyes were beginning to flutter like my hands and I was brought back to the front door. Back to Lochlan. Back to Ben. Back to Sam as he's around again.

 We're good. Everything's good. Everyone's fine. The Collective survives to fight another day together. Not that it was in any danger but things are always better if we're all on the same page, instead of some people lagging behind while others read ahead.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Neon Lights.

We can go forget who we are
Jay looked like such an easy mark in the late evening sunlight so I kept walking, blinded by my own need to be somewhere that was different and comforting and safe and not with Lochlan or with the Devil either. Them arguing is hard enough, imagine trying to exist when they're getting along. They both get equal blame for how this started, before Lochlan grabbed my heart when Caleb wasn't looking and ran right out of the woods, off towards the lights of the midway in the distance.

I don't blame them anymore though. I just feel strange when they get along very well. They got along so well Caleb ended up having a two-night sleepover at the big house and I got a little overtired and a lot overstimulated and was thinking about building a treehouse because we have everything else and it unearthed a memory that doesn't change anything save to paint Lochlan as the one who stands idylly by while Caleb feasts on my bones.

That was never the case and it isn't the case now and I find myself with a opportunistic ear in August, who is home, all the lights on, the fan on the ceiling making a lazy loop and music on the stereo. enjoying a cold beer and some watermelon besides. A quiet evening I'm about to ruin with my fountain of words. Just as you think they're finished they cycle back around and pour out again, over the top to the pool below.

Want one? They're non-alcoholic. They're not even near beer, actually. It's more like ginger ale if you made it yourself. 

I take one and he cracks the tab on it for me. I take a sip. Stupidly sweet. Good enough.

Can I fix you a plate? 

I'm fine. I just want to be here right now. You don't even have to talk to me. And if you had plans just continue with them. I won't be in the way, I promise.

I was going to have a bath. With my fake beer and music and everything.

You can still do that. I'll go. 

I'll delay it for an hour. How does that sound? 

No. I don't know. Yes. Can I just sleep for a little bit? 

Yeah. Sure. Help yourself. He indicates the bed on the ropes and gives it a gentle push. I'll wake you at eight to go home? 

Okay. 

Do you want to talk it out first? 

Not really.

Then goodnight, Bridge. He takes the can from my shaky hands, kisses my forehead and heads down the hallway. I climb under the top blanket and am asleep in precious few seconds.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Sorry. (It's back. Fuck censorship. Fuck respect too. It goes BOTH WAYS.)

I had a post today but it's gone now. I thought it was fine. It's my brain, not theirs. My memories, not the parts of life they'd like to whitewash, diluting them until they mix into some other memory, forgotten entirely. My history as it pertains to me.

I wrote about a summer early evening a very long time ago when I was ten in which Caleb and Lochlan took me up to the treehouse so I could see it, as I wanted to see it and climb up to it and it was for the older kids. They didn't like me writing about it.

It wasn't anything bad.

It was supposed to be, it could have been, but it wasn't. But I was told to take it down and out of respect to both of them I did and now I'm left with nothing for the day to write about. Caleb has gone back to his side of the property at last, having remained here with us for a few days. It was really nice but then I reminded him and everyone else that he is the Devil so now he's gone again and we go back to being at each other's throats or whatever it is I'm supposed to be here.

I'm not allowed to work things out. Not allowed to bring them up, not allowed to make anyone feel bad, though it's okay if I feel bad, I guess. I'll just jam it back down there in the dark with all the other uncategorized, unexamined memories where they can fester and ache and I'll promise not to make them feel bad.

Ironic. And now, just like that night when I was ten and they gave me beer, my stomach hurts and everything feels weird.

The first emotion, or so they say, is curiosity. They shouldn't have said that.

(Trouble finds you, Bridget, and then it walks behind you, darting into the shadows when you sense something, turning around to call Who's there? It stalks you and it sets you up and the sad part is you never even heard it coming.)

***

Teenage boys have really bad ideas sometimes. Sometimes they don't outgrow them even as you'd think they ought to.

***
I don't know what to say
But I'm going to want you till the stars evaporate
We're only here for just a moment in the light
One day it shines for us the next we're in the night
He uncovered my eyes. There's a tree in front of me, wider than I can hug, with boards nailed in a makeshift ladder up the trunk. Surprise.

The tree house? I can go up?

Sure.

But you said it was too dangermouse.

Dangerous. We made it safer.

I climb the ladder gingerly, still managing to scrap my knees and elbows on the edges of the wood as I make my way up. When I get to the top of the ladder I climb through the hole and I kneel on the floor of the treehouse to peer back down but Lochlan is right behind me. There's a few candles, half a case of beer and a blanket spread out nicely, like for a picnic.

This is cool!

Lochlan cracks open a beer but doesn't offer me any. Because he's sixteen and I'm not yet. I know. I think he's in a bad mood though. He sits back on the blanket and pats the space beside him. Come sit.

When is Caleb coming?

Soon. I don't know. Just as he says that Caleb calls Lochlan's name. Lochlan hollers back down the hole that we're up here.

Caleb makes it to the top in record time and then sits down hard. He wavers as he unloads his backpack. More beer. A portable radio. Matches. Candles. I think he's drunk.

What are those things for? I ask him with my ten-year-old curiosity.

Us. So we can have a nice evening. He is drunk. His words are running together and I can't understand him very well. Lochlan frowns as they smash beer cans together. Cheers, brother.

Lochlan rubs my back and acts very territorial. This isn't a first but it's weird.

Did you bring anything for me to drink? I ask Caleb, who stares unsteadily at Lochlan all the while pulling a beer off the stack.

Here you go, Baby.

Lochlan takes it first, opens it and hands it to me reluctantly. I take a sip. It's warm and a little bubbly and not sweet like pop at all. I put it down. I'll just pretend to drink it, I guess.

Caleb finishes his beer in what seems like five seconds. Come here, Bridget.

I listen to him. He's the oldest, at eighteen. I always listen to him. I slide over beside him and he puts his arm around me, pulling me in close. He holds my face up with his free hand and kisses me solidly on the mouth. Then he pours beer into my mouth. Just a little.

Good girl.

I swallow it and sit with a thrilled feeling in my stomach. Caleb is cute and he is the oldest and if he's interested in me instead of Bailey then this. is. magnificent. Everyone loves Bailey. No one has any time for little goofy Bridget.

Speaking of the Devil, I hear a group of people arrive at the treehouse. It's deep in the woods between the lake and Blueberry Mountain. None of the grownups come out here. All of the kids do.

Bailey pokes her head through the floor of the treehouse. Ah. It's occupied I see.

Yeah, we've got some beer.

Shit. We were going to smoke up here.

Come up then, Lochlan seems relieved suddenly that our picnic is ruined. He slides over to my other side and holds my beer, which I go to take from him before realizing he isn't handing it to me.

Are you giving my sister beer? She's ten! Bailey's mad and jealous. She's almost as old as Lochlan. Beer is for the older kids.

No. Don't be silly. She's ten.

Then why is she here?

She wanted to come with us. Caleb lies and Lochlan nods.

I think I'll take her home. Bailey eyes them both suspiciously.

I'm just hanging out, Bay.

Not with these two, you're not, Bridge.

I'll be home by nine.

She stares at Lochlan. He covers easily. We're just having a beer and showing Bridget the treehouse. I'll make sure she gets home by curfew.

You'd better, or else.

Don't worry. You can trust me. Lochlan grins at her so easily I get a weird pang about that too. My stomach hurts now. Great.

She finally looks at me for a long time and then they leave in a big group and it's back to the three of us.

Caleb's eyes and his teeth glitter in the half light. He looks like a wolf in the dark. Finish your beer, Bridget.

I think she's right. I should go.

I'll take you home, Lochlan says quickly while Caleb shakes his head and swears at the sky.

Bye, Caleb.

Bye, Princess. Come again soon! He laughs and tilts his beer up. I'll just go fuck myself I guess.

What?

Nothing, sweetheart.

Lochlan punches him in the arm and then goes around me, halfway through the hole. Back out and climb down the way you climbed up. He has his arms around my legs, making a cage as we go down.

It's on the long walk back to our neighborhood that he tells me he's glad I wanted to leave. I thought he meant so he could be alone with me to talk on the way home.  Which is far cooler than any attention I can beg from Caleb, honestly.

It wasn't until a few years later that Christian told me they bragged that they were taking me up there to mess around but no one took them seriously because of my age and it was soon after that that Lochlan came clean and admitted he didn't really want to but he knew if he wasn't there I would go anyway. Because of Caleb. Because I could never ever leave well enough alone and have put myself in his sights even as he's painted a big target on my back.

Nothing's changed, Lochlan says as he wakes up. I have my arms around him, my head against his chest, and wrapped around my back holding tight is Caleb, who slept hard again last night. He's been here for days. Nights. Things are different since. That night at the treehouse Caleb dodged a bullet that would hit him square in the heart a year later when Lochlan wasn't there to save us all from this future we haven't escaped yet, even as we run as fast as we can.

At least it's no longer wrong to touch me, I tell Lochlan.

Depends on who you ask.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Literally translated, it means Whore's Spaghetti.

I wore the ballet flats.

He noticed but said nothing, and rattled off the menu for dinner to me in short order, handing me a glass of wine as he did, with a smile.

We're having Spaghetti alla puttanesca. Are you hungry?

Starving. He seems to be on his best.

Can you wait a half-hour or should I do up a plate of fruit in the meantime?

I'm fine to wait. Will there be garlic bread?

I have a baguette. Would you like to make some?

Sure. I kick off my shoes, put my wine glass on the island and get to work sawing the bread into slices with the giant serrated knife he keeps in the block. When I'm a third of the way through I wrap the remaining loaf, tuck it into the fridge and pull out the butter dish and minced garlic.

I enjoy cooking with you, Neamhchiontach.

Come over any night of the week. I'm there same time every day.

Except tonight.

Except tonight.

And most of last week.

Did you want to talk about that? You and August are vying for Most Put Out. 

No. No, not really. I just wished you kept in touch while you were gone.

Oh.

A call or something. Just so I can hear your voice. He drinks his wine in one swallow but I heard it. His voice cracked ever so slightly.

For what it's worth, I did miss you.

Then next time, call.

I will.

Let's get the bread in the oven. This took no time at all.

Soon we are eating outside at the little bistro table in the far corner of his patio, jutting out over the cliff. Usually I'd be hesitant to remain here on the frightening part of the cliff but this is my third glass of wine and I have no fear of anything anymore. I always try to front-load my courage for Caleb. Dinner is delicious. Tiny olives pop between my teeth. I eat everything on my plate. So does he.

I rise to clear the dishes.

Sit, Bridget. Not a suggestion, it's a clear order.

I sink back to my seat. He softens.

I'm sorry. Can we just enjoy this? How are you? Not too warm? Too cold?

I'm fine.

You're tense.

No, I'm just...what is it?

I just want to enjoy dinner with you and then I'm afraid I'm going to have to send you home.

Did I do something wrong? Panic builds. I need things. Where are they?

On the contrary. I made some beautiful plans for tonight with you but I'm afraid you'll have to come back another night. I'm very tired. I'll walk you home. He stands and come around to take my chair.  Take the wine with you. He brings the bottle to walk me home. You and Lochlan can have a nightcap.

Once across the drivewat at the door he hands me the bottle of wine and gives me a lingering kiss. I'm sorry if I wasn't able to give you the night you were expecting.

Come in with me. 

As I said-

We'll go to sleep. We can have a nightcap with Lochlan and go to sleep. You said you sleep better with me, this should help. 

Did you ask Loch-

I don't have to, remember? It's in the rules. 

Why are you doing this for me? 

Who said I'm doing it for you? 

Monday, 3 July 2017

In with my already bloodshot eyes.

One of the biggest joys about being in the pool is that I can't hear a thing. I feel the underwater speakers but I can't hear the music and if someone needs me they have to physically get in the water and touch me as I swim endless laps back and forth across the widest part.

Maybe I meant biggest drawback, as instead of reaching out to touch the edge my hand lands on Caleb's chest and he pulls me up against him in the deep end.

Hello, Neamhchiontach. 

Cale. Morning. I smile at him awkwardly. My eyes sting so badly. He doesn't care.

Nice form. He winks.

Thanks. I'm trying to be perfect. (Are we still talking about swimming? I don't think we're talking about swimming. I'm sure not.)

Shall we race? 

No. I would lose. 

No, I think you have a chance. I can always go slow. Or get lost. Or have a cramp. He laughs and his eyes flash. God can drown me now, really it's fine. He's so handsome.

Okay. 

Really? 

He counts down and we're off across the pool. He makes a comical show of doing a poor backstroke, then foundering as if he's unable to swim, and then finally he stops swimming and pretends to walk in slow motion, but he's still really fast and he grabs me, spinning me back toward the deep end, not letting go but reaching out to touch the edge. I win. 

Wow. 

Fair and square. I gave you every opportunity. Something less cheerful flashes across his eyes and we're definitely not talking about swimming any more. All of history is now floating among us, crowding us out, pushing us under.

Tomorrow I get a rematch. 

Of course you do. When we get up. 

When we get up?

Yes, when we get up you can have your rematch. You'll be with me. 

Run it by Loch-

I don't have to do that. His rules. Go get dressed. Wear a pretty slip dress and the pink shoes. We're going out to dinner. 

The pink shoes make me almost as tall as he is. I can't run away in those. I can hardly walk in those. I look like a deer on stilts in those.

I have pink ballet flats-

The heels, Bridget. 

What time do I need to get ready? 

Now, I think. He had you far away for many days straight. I think he can handle one entire twenty-four-hour period without you at all. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Jesus Driver/Cineplex sanctuary.

We might have bailed on church again for the better offer of specialty coffees and Baby Driver at an empty theatre. Don't worry, we brought Sam with us, as Holiday Weekend Church is usually empty too. We brought everybody, actually and holy, what a sleeper of a perfect movie. We've already made plans to go see it again. It's SO good, and you really have no inkling of how good it is from just the trailers. Trust me. Go see it. I was expecting some sort of teenage car-chase sort of fun movie but holy DAMN, it was so much more than that, stylized in a way that made it never stop. Now it's in my top ten favorite movies and I have to figure out which one drops off so it can have space.

That good.

Yes.

Go.

(P.S. When you get home buy the soundtrack.)

Saturday, 1 July 2017

While I patiently wait for someone to trade Miller to the Ducks, you can read this.

Oof. Ben wasn't the only affection- or maybe it's Bridget-starved person here. I've been dodging men, feelings and drama since we landed.

***

Caleb thinks the whole trip was a personal affront. He's challenged Lochlan to wage love on home turf and see who emerges victorious. I can't wait for the jousting at sunrise. For fucks sake. Lochlan, to his credit, reminded Caleb of the umbrella on fire, that he has it covered, thanks, but that a mental and physical getaway is important and Caleb can stuff it.

***

The entire rest of the house thinks Lochlan is throwing up a human shield, himself to be exact, to keep me away from Jay, who's been fresh back a whole week and I've hardly talked to him besides. I tell them they're jumping to conclusions and they remind me that I don't have a man's mind so I wouldn't know.

Ah. Mansplain it to me, Dunk.

No point. 

Gatekeeping, then, is what you're doing. Seriously. 

God, why are you talking like Yoda, Bridge? I think you left your brain on the coast.

Oh, I totally did. I'm fine with that.

***

August thinks I was away too long.

It was three days. 

Four. 

Three nights. 

Right. 

What? 

I worry about you. 

With Lochlan? That's something you need to fix.

But he doesn't get it. Lochlan isn't any sort of threat to anything or anybody. He's been in charge of me since I was in the single-digit ages and I'm still alive, I have perfect manners and I can fend for myself. I'll scream the whole time I'm doing it but I'm capable. But he also hobbled me emotionally and I can't exist without a metric crap-ton of doubled-down weapons-grade affection or I hit a wall and dissolve. Yes. Explain that one. Child- and Teenage-Bridget adores him for it. Adult-Bridget can't even figure out how it all happened, other than imprinting being the best explanation I've ever heard.

Soulmate as a definition is a distant second.

Fate a shadowy third.

***

PJ shoves a list across the counter at me. You're behind. 

I think it's time for you to have a vacation. Also, my chores are supposed to be absorbed by the rest of you if I can't do them. Slackers. 

Yours were. These are new.

Great. 

Hey, you just came back from not having to lift a finger. No sympathy from me. 

I don't know what kind of vacations you take but in my universe it's only a location break. We cooked. We swept constantly to keep sand out of the house-

I thought you had cereal. 

Still have to pour it in a bowl, pour the milk in, dump in a cup of sugar-

I'm glad you're home though. 

Are you? I am too. I missed my guys. 

Me the most though, right? 

Uh. Yeah. Right. You the most.

You're even cute when you lie, Bridge. 

Thank God for that.