Friday, 24 March 2017

A little reminder because it's getting harder to read your emails again.

Pallbearer's Heartless came out this morning, in the wee hours and is a fucking MASTERPIECE. Best listened to on a windy rainy cliff with good headphones or in a car with a good sound system, driving down the highway in the darkness.

It's one of those kinds of albums and it's perfect unlike your dear Bridget, who may have broken the mold. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to, it just happened when I woke up and couldn't move, so I cracked some pieces, not realizing that it was too soon. I wasn't finished. Wasn't ready. Wasn't complete or whole or as perfect as the rest of you, the rest of them.

From down here your horses are too high, your derision cuts too deeply, your words hurt when they should bounce off, and that's how I know. My skin should be thicker, my brain should have abilities it doesn't even understand, like pronunciations, map-reading and navigating mean people. I should be able to function as more than a comfort object, more than comfort, period. I should be independent and free. I should be smarter. I should be capable. I should be better. 

I should have waited a little longer, but I was curious, like I'm always so fucking curious about every little thing and so I went exploring and I keep getting burned, cut and flayed alive on things that would be a scratch and then on the other hand I can accept very hard, very difficult and very bad things with a grace few people possess. So I've heard. So I know now in a way I didn't before.

So I'll take my gifts (and massive, unforgiveable flaws) and you take yours and don't read anymore if all you're going to do is try and pass judgement on a life you actually know very little about. This is my world and I'm happy here. Go find your own.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

A classic.

Outside in the sun today. The bike was loaded onto a truck. Screw rail freight, it will ship singular, covered in a larger truck all the way to New Jake. It's insured up the wazoo and GPS-chipped as well which is new to me but Batman assured me no expense will be spared. 

Bye Sunbeam. Bye the biggest personification of New Jake that ever was. I'll miss the bike but I'll miss the man more. 

Stop wingeing. 

Stop telling people what to feel! I glare at Loch and walk past him into the house. 

He's mad because I was at Caleb's yesterday and he will forever be mad because he's Lochlan and that's how he works. 

That's fine. I'm too tired to deal with things today. Only I recognize what the crushing exhaustion means. I see it coming from a mile away. So I blow a kiss at the shiny pale green bike and exact another promise that it's going to be just fine and that's how that story ends, with a flatbed disappearing through the gates and a scowling redhead on the patio steps.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The princess of diminishing returns.

I think the rain shortcircuits my brain. This could be a good thing. Or maybe just a temporary thing. Either way I'll take it, along with this morning's steady diet of coffee, whiskey and Devil, a sleepy handsome man who decided when I was getting ready to leave, that hell, no, you're not going anywhere and offered up a lazy breakfast if I promised not to put my dress back on.

I countered that I would stay another two hours if he put on a fire.

Done, he said, but he didn't take his eyes off me.

Caleb is back in control today. Last night after the hard feelings had been softened and the house was rightened he admitted he was a bit stung, that I've hardly seen him, that August gets all of my free time that Lochlan doesn't use and that I've all but ghosted Caleb as of late. He was gracious in accepting my protests that I've been busy, that it wasn't on purpose, and he's seemed to temper his possessiveness again. It's never going to go away completely, it just comes in waves, knocking us down, dragging us out to sea before dumping us back on solid ground.

You hungry?

Starving, I admit.

Cheese toast for two? I'll get the bread, you go borrow some cheese from your house. 

How did you even run out? 

Neamhchiontach, I didn't know when you'd be back so I didn't buy any. It's been three weeks. 

Three weeks without cheese? That's like a national emergency. 

No, three weeks without you. 

You're keeping track?

Of course.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Guilt and company (Day won't last).

I was unconscious, half asleep
The water is warm 'til you discover how deep

I wasn't jumping, for me it was a fall
It's a long way down to nothing at all
Oh my God. They went from 'He was leaving soon anyway' to Caleb pointing out that Schuyler must have been watching me too, in order to see New Jake's actions. They started a shoving match in the middle of dinner clean-up and went to floor so fast I dropped my favourite serving dish in my rush to break them up. I went to block Caleb and wound up getting clocked on accident. Ben plucked me out of the fray and I ordered everyone out.

Caleb was back fifteen minutes later when the dust cleared, apologizing profusely. It's not his fault. I should learn not to throw myself in front of their fists but I always hope it'll help them find their self-control. It rarely works in time.

And I wish everyone would stop apologizing. First Sam for bringing New Jake here in the first place and then Batman for keeping him here. This blew up in my face. Truth be told I have moments here and there that scare me. I can't protect myself from them and they've taken advantage of that fact more often than not. Every. last. one. Starting with Caleb or maybe it was Loch and ending with Schuyler, who decided he knew what was best. He couldn't help it. No one can. This is what happens. And now we wade through the fallout and hope it doesn't poison us. Either way, they found their catalyst to finally get New Jake off the point. They'd like all Jakes off the point, in all honesty, while I go around behind their backs collecting more. I don't know what it is about men with that name or maybe men in general but as we all know, I'm not right in the head.

That's how Batman put it, but again, he was always jealous.

Of what, I don't know. I slept with New Jake ONE TIME, over a year ago. I've been sleeping with Batman off and on for twenty five years.

But that's not important. What's important is that someone crowded in on THEIR Bridget and God fucking forbid.

Same thing happened in high school when I tried to get back at Lochlan for breaking up with me by sleeping with the captain of the football team (Hi, Blake). They lost their goddamn minds and I was dispatched into Cole's care for the rest of his short life. I don't know how to live outside of the prison that the brothers made for me. I really don't.

In order to keep my sanity and my guilt in check and due to my need for closure at all times, I've opted to take on the role of sugar mama for a week or two. I've already drafted a severance package for Jake, as well as letters of recommendation from the boys, grudgingly or not, and I've pulled a few strings in his new (old) location that will see him get a nice cushy job being his own boss but for better people than us. I transferred some spending money to him and I said I was sorry to him so many times he finally told me to stop talking and that he was fine, that it's fine and he was indeed leaving soon because staying here was killing him.

That's how it works, I told him.

I see that now, he says, and he thanks me and hangs up.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Healthy as fuck.

Lochlan stirred my oatmeal this morning, alternating a splash of hot water with a few circles of the spoon until it was the way I like it. Solid but not dry. I don't like soupy oatmeal. He makes it perfectly. Which is good considering he won't let me make it in case I burn myself. Ruth and Henry have been making their own oatmeal for a decade.

Where is he? 

Don't worry about it, Bridgie. 

Working as a proxy and a partner for Batman, who is on his way home as we speak, Lochlan went and disposed of New Jake, who admitted under God knows what sort of duress, that when Batman is away, Jake quietly stalks me. I think Jake figured they would help him if he owned up to it right away. His mistake. Had he made up some shit about coming over and then hesitating when he saw my car not start, thinking I would think I was being saved preemptively they would have stood down but he didn't do that and now he's gone.

I'm envisioning concrete shoes and an undercover of darkness heave into the sea from the wrong side of the cliff or maybe the Russians driving up and he is dispatched into their trunk and taken away and probably chopped into little pieces to be fed to their enemies.

Such a waste.

Stop it. 

Hmmm? 

We sent him back to where he came from. 

We? 

Collectively yes. We. He was a problem before yesterday. He didn't fit in anyway. Outsiders don't fit in. 

Because we're incestuous. 

Yes, that. And remember not every person is a good person, Bridgie. 

Not every stranger is bad, either. 

By default? Yes, they are. 

He's probably safer than most supervillains. 

I'll agree with you on that. 

So what did you do with him? 

Booked him a month's stay in a flat, bought him a plane ticket and told him his stuff will be with him in a week, bike included. His flight left an hour ago. He is not to contact you or come back under any circumstances. 

Swift justice. 

I'm not Jacob, Bridget. People don't get second chances on my watch. 

I did. (I like to disarm them every chance I get. Don't you see that?)

He sits down heavily across from me with tears in his eyes.

Jesus, Peanut. Why do you have to start every day by bringing me to my knees? 

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sunbeam.

We were falling away
You left me with a bittersweet taste
But when I send my heart your way
It bounces off the walls you made
Ricochet
I was already late for church and so I told them all to go ahead and I would catch up with them. To save me a seat. I couldn't get the zipper of my dress up, couldn't find the earrings I wanted to wear, couldn't find a second shoe, slammed my finger in a bathroom drawer, couldn't keep up with text messaging Caleb, couldn't shake the headache and figured if nothing else I would hit the Starbucks drivethrough and then sneak into the sanctuary and sit in the very back if it came down to it.

But then my car didn't start and everyone was already gone. I gave it a little gas and tried again and then I got out and opened the trunk. It looks....well, it looks like it's not going to be something very obvious and my skills are completely limited to seventies muscle cars or seventies trucks anyway. I know nothing about a flat-six.

And all the trucks are gone. There's a motorcycle and a jeep in the garage and I have no idea on earth where the keys are.

So I try again.

I leave the lid up and try to turn it over again and nothing. Not a whimper. Not a gasp. Not a chance.

Well, shit. How come this only happens when no one is around? But then New Jake comes around the side of the house. He asks if I am having problems.

It won't start and everyone's gone. Can you jump it with your bike?

Why not just ask Batman for his car?

It's fine. I'll just message Lochlan.

No one's home?

Church started ten minutes ago.

Ah. What about August?

He's there too.

Caleb?

There.

Really.

Why?

Just wondering if you were alone.

My intuition abruptly snaps to attention. Your house full?

Batman's in London, remember? That's why I wondered if you would just ask him for his car. It's not being used.

Oh. Right. I forgot.

Or you could play hooky and come over for a early brunch.

I can't. Thank you.

You have other plans? He smiles, running his finger along his lip like it's a gun. Shoot me, please.

I ignore the question and stare at him.

I have coffee, he offers. Come over for an hour. Then go home.

It's a bad idea, Jake.

Those are the only kind I have, Bridget. He smiles again and I feel like the heat of his grin could melt steel. It probably does and I'm too stunned to notice.

He steps closer and I look up at him. Don't turn into trouble or they'll find a reason for you to go.

Not their house.

Their girl.

His eyebrows go up slightly.

You don't get to decide for yourself?

There's a hierarchy.

How do I get on that list?

Wait around a dozen years. Make yourself invaluable. Beg for me. I don't know. 

I'll beg if it means-

I got this, Jake. Thanks. Schuyler's voice cuts through the tension with a blade that's sharp and loud.

You're still here!

I have a blistering headache and I sent Daniel ahead with Gage.

I have pills for you if you'd like.

I would, actually. Bring one over? I'll make sure you get a coffee. He stares Jake down until Jake mumbles a quick exit and is gone in a flash. Meet me in five in my kitchen, Schuyler tells me, following Jake. I'm glad I'll miss whatever's next. Schuyler never suffered a fool for one minute in his life. Not sure how he ever dated Ben but it explains why they didn't last.

I run up and find the good stuff in the drawer. Percocet. Probably expired but something is better than nothing for Schuyler. They never did a thing for me.

Schuyler takes the pill from me gratefully, swallowing it with some cold tea when we get back to his house. Then he turns and smiles and asks me if I wanted to know why he came out.

Yes, actually.

Your car. When you tried to start it, did it turn over at all?

No, it just clicked. 

How would Jake have heard that from three houses away? 

I don't know, my hearing is broken. 

My eyes aren't. He was in your backyard watching you through the fence. And I fucking caught him. 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Bee Keeper.

You, you and I girl
We can share a life together
It's now or never
And tomorow may be too late
I used to sit in the front seat of the truck, doors open, dirty feet up on the dashboard, sweat running down my neck and back, trying to sleep in the shade while Lochlan worked in the hot sun setting up the foundation amusement rides (the wheel, bumper cars, haunted house). He could do some of it single-handedly but he liked the company. He would sing along with the radio. Easy-listening. I used to listen to him sing and wish my name was Amanda, after the song by Boston. Then I could be someone else. Someone who was so wanted they got a song written about them. A slow-dancing song. The bridge he sings with passion. It would be twenty years before he would helpfully point out he sang about us and hardly registered the fact that the girl's name in the song was different.

That's not the important part, Peanut, he tells me, wiping my face and neck down with a clean handkerchief when he comes over to check on me. Where's your water? I had a Tupperware tumbler with a lid with a spout. It was yellow-green. I lost it in the field somewhere an hour ago when I put it down and never saw it again for all the grass. Oops.

I thought you had it, I lie.

He frowns. You're getting dehydrated. He leaves my range of view and then comes back with all the problem-solving skills of a sixteen year old boy. Here. Drink some. I just opened it.

I take a sip from his can and make a face. Warm bitter beer. I can't have this. I'm eleven.

It's liquid. Finish it. I only need fifteen minutes more and we can go. 

I drink it all after he disappears again. It's got a strange acidic bite after each long swallow. It tastes like really old coffee. It's terrible. But then it's good. Five minutes later it's empty. Chicago is playing on the radio now and I turn and fire the can in his direction. It misses by a mile. I feel dizzy and weird and kind of crazy.

Hey! Locket! 

He looks up slowly, smiling under the curls. Three minutes, Babe.

I don't have three minutes. I have to pee. 

See those trees? He points to the fence on the other side of the field.

Yes?

Go over there and pee. 

Really?

Yes. No one's around for miles, Bridge. I'm it for the early set-up crew.

It'll take more than three minutes to get there. 

It's twenty minutes drive back. Add that in. Also, you're trashed.

Oh yeah. Thanks. You gave me that beer. This is your fault.

Be careful, then. I'll watch you.

I will. I weave all the way across the field and find a tree to hide behind while I pee. It involves taking my shorts and underwear off, because I learned my lesson years ago and have wished to pee standing up ever since. I thought it was something that would work when I got older but it's still impossible to do just pulling everything down. I lean around the tree and Lochlan is facing my direction but I can't see his expression. He's too far away.

I finish, redress and walk back. On the way I see a little hill with a row of tinier pine trees a hundred yards over from the path I originally took. They're only as tall as me so I head over to see if there are any robin's nests in them. I love finding the tiny speckled eggs. Usually I get held up by someone to see them though because I'm small.

I can't see much so I duck between the trees to check out the other side. Except that I can't slip through and instead run right into a mass of crawling feral bees that I didn't see in my rush to explore. I take a step backwards and trip and fall on my back, trying to get away from this huge buzzing cloud. I cry out and a bee flies into my mouth and flies back out so I clamp my eyes and mouth shut and put my hands over my nose so they can't fly into my head. I can feel them landing on my hair and my arms and my feet and then I feel air rushing around me and it's suddenly so much warmer than it was even with the afternoon sun. I open my eyes and Lochlan's waving his lit torches around me. He looks down and says Move, Bridgie and I get up and run. There are bees in my hair, bees in my clothes. Bees everywhere.

I run until I reach the truck and then past it to the dirt road. He's right behind me, torches held back behind us, just in case. He drops them to the dirt, leaving them to burn out and checks me all over, up my shirt, down my shorts. Under my hair. He's swearing. He's scared. I look into his face and the adrenaline and beer make me laugh. I start laughing so hard I don't know if I can stop. He stares at me in amazement.

Not a single sting. 

Nope. 

How in the hell, Bridget? You were covered. 

They like me! I gesture. It's genetic. (My grandparents had bees on their farm, but organized in hives.We wear gear around them. This is different. Vastly different.)

Thank God for that. I was trying to figure out how I was going to take a drunk eleven-year-old into a hospital, covered with bees. 

What a vision. 

What a vision indeed. I found your cup, by the way. It was beside me the whole time. Next time I leave you home. 

But I can't make memories with you if I'm sitting in the camper. 

We have our whole lives to make memories, Peanut and they'll be the best ones you have, bees and all.

They already are, I tell him and he kisses me. Harder than usual. I bet this is how Amanda feels. Who needs a song? I've got a Lochlan.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Underwhelming on purpose.

It felt like a Saturday today. Out of the ordinary. Unreasonably cold and mostly rainy with a few pockets of cloudy in between. I didn't leave the house. I didn't venture out of my comfort zone. I don't think I woke up, though I know I'm responsible for the half-pot of coffee that disappeared between eight and eleven, though it did nothing to bite into this headache and even less to eradicate the exhaustion. It's been a long difficult four weeks, truth be told, with one or two left to go. I would say that I need a vacation but no one wants to read that, so instead I'm breathing deeply, having an Lagavulin in honor of Saint Patrick's Day, turned down a few offers of company and am about to go put on my pajamas and share a pizza with Lochlan and Ben in our bed. 

Which is kind of perfect and exactly what I need right now. I hope to be asleep before ten. 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Ex-pensive.

You were indifferent
I was young
We were both drinking fiction with greedy tongues
You were waiting for someone
Something to happen
Something irrational
Climbing the walls and falling in love
He holds out a glass in front of my face. I'm sitting on the bench at the kitchen table trying to mend a hole in Sam's shirt sleeve. It's flannel so it's not a total loss but he doesn't want a patch so I'm limited as to what I can do. My repair will outlive the shirt itself, that much I know. It always does.

Here. For your broken heart. His voice cracks just enough and I look up into his face. It's not a happy face.

Lochlan, I-

I don't know what my defense was going to be but he cuts me off anyway.

Every day, Peanut. Every day I wake up and I put it all away and start fresh.

He wags the drink again and I take it. I take a huge gulp and let it burn me to the ground.

How do I teach you this? Teaching you to tie your shoes and drive a car seem so easy now in comparison.

If this was equal to tying my shoes, I'd be gold, Locket.

You already are gold, Bridgie. He runs his hand down my cheek. Like he's so proud and yet so disappointed all at the same time. I can't imagine how that must feel, to have the person you molded to be exactly what you want turn out to be a resounding failure.

I have to ban Preacher from the point. How do I do that, sweetheart?

Give me a lobotomy and he's gone. Then you get your golden girl back, fresh and new.

She wouldn't be who I love.

Then maybe it's you who has to learn to live with Preacher and not me, after all.

He takes my drink from me and finishes the whole thing in one go. Flames begin to lick out from his skin, pulled tightly over his soul. I can still see right through him. Always could, always will.

I can do that. He can watch. He puts the drink on the floor, lifting me up into his arms abruptly. No more talk, just kisses that smolder and spark. He takes us upstairs, kicking the door shut behind us. He undresses us both at once and then he pulls me back in tight without pretense. I cry out and he covers my mouth with kisses.

Shhh, Bridgie. It's okay. Hold on to me. He threads my arms up around his neck and drives against me, for he truly believes if we lose our love or run out of it, we can just make more. It's been this way forever. He is mine and I am his and that's just the way it's going to be, no matter what or who happens.

And I'm right, he says as he lets go finally. It's morning now and we've spent the night with abandon, with no way to pay it back.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

You bottomless abyss.

But You were faithful in devotion
You remembered me
Out on the telescope platform in the rain this morning. Wolves At The Gate's The Bird and the Snake (and also Hindsight) so loud I worry that when I take the headphones off there might be blood pouring from my ears. My whole head is ringing. It's a cleansing action, a way to shove something else into my mind, maybe someone else's pain, to eradicate my own, take the soft landing away from it, forcing it out where it can be soaked to the bone and then eroded by the fierce wind that undercurrents the rain, bringing it sideways. The sea loves this, she can show the pale teal depth that coats the back of each wave, a surprise hue that defies the grey of the skies today.

Jacob leans against the wall below me. You going to do this all day? He squints at the rain. His shirt is damp, his faded jeans are speckled with water now too. But he's smiling in that kind, concerned way he would reserve for the most broken. I want to crouch down and touch his hair, his face but I'm afraid if I do I'll never be able to come back from it again.

If I say no will you give me an Easter miracle? 

No, Princess. I can't and I wouldn't do that to any of them if I could. 

If you could they would understand. 

You think Lochlan would understand? 

Eventually. 

Bridget, just give him-

Shhh. This is my favorite part. Louder still. My blood pushes against my skull, my heart fights to keep its own beat, my fingers flutter so hard I think they might break and I abruptly rip off the headphones and almost fall, I'm so startled by the sudden stillness around me. 

I turn to tell Jake to fuck off with trying to engineer the hierarchy from heaven but he's gone again. 

And he keeps breaking my heart.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Just don't.

I don't know what kind of life you lead there but....begins many an email from you.

You're right. You don't.

I have no post today. Henry had surgery this morning for an old issue with his foot (third surgery! THIRD!) and is recovering very well but I'm a fucking mess, as usual.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Bridge & Olufsen

Choose your words
Choose them wise
For they will lead to your demise
Take my life
Take my faith
To stop the tears that run down your face
I played Flicker on repeat in Caleb's R8and sang along all last night as I drove. I hope he plays the dashcam recording back later, as I sing and yell out Motherfucker! every time someone demonstrates shoddy Vancouver driving skills in my presence.

Especially the part at the end when Donald Carpenter yells YOUR FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE for three minutes straight. I love that part. A lot.

When I got in the car Caleb had Best of The Fray cued up. Be still my heart. I was loathe to change it. He also left fifty bucks on the dash so I could get a bubble tea while I was out. Which is interesting, oddly parental and certainly detached. A bubble tea is five dollars tops, six-fifty if you get extra pearls.  I only have two flavors of tea that I'll get. Chocolate or pineapple and I always get extra pearls. I'm guessing that was the smallest bill he had.

I put the fifty in my bag and didn't stop for anything extra after all because as I said, it was dark and raining and I don't like driving anyway, plus I can't take my car at night because the headlights are terrible and I'm too lazy to change them out. I will soon, but nights like that the boys have a point when they say they really want me to let them take over driving because I shouldn't be out alone. I only still drive, in spite of my hearing, because driving through the hemlocks and pines by the sea it feels like it did back home.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

CHURCHMONSTER.

Lochlan calls Sam's brand of worship Unitard with a serious Catholic bent. Don't be offended. He asked for help once from God and was denied. I asked for help twice and the Devil stepped in to look after me. We've been running ever since because once the Devil smells your fear he won't ever let you go. Sam says once God knows of your love he won't either but we are suspicious and reluctant and trying all the same to be good Unitarians and also throw in whatever means are necessary (crossing, holy water, rosaries, and I'm considering Mormon magic undergarments) to overcome our wants and focus on our needs (only Him, says Sam). Only all of you, my brain whispers and then my whole body blushes in response.

(I guess at this this point if you're the type of person that would be offended by polyamory or patchwork religion you would't be reading here. So I won't apologize any more.)

Sam is trotting out the big guns today. I feel as if he's threatened by my offer to August to come join us sporadically or even regularly. Hell, everyone was threatened if you want me to be technical. Lyrically, I think they'll not put weight in worry until they see him stick around late into the evening. August has a long cold history of telling me when my time is up. He regulates himself like an army of one, a habit I admire all the while trying to break him of it.

Maybe I should have given up breaking them for Lent. That probably would have been better than giving up sugary snacks. It's been twelve days since I've had a cookie though, and Sam says that nothing logical has come out of my mouth (or my brain for that matter) during that entire time period.

Let's hope morale improves. Apparently God's going to fix that like he's supposed to fix everything else. I'm waiting.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Casseiopeia, chained to a throne.

That's what August called me as I swung where I lay when he got up to get juice and bagels for us. My head is almost hanging off the bed, hair wild, quilts up to my neck, feet sticking out the side. I grin and he laughs and asks if honey on my bagel is okay.

I nod. Please. 

We're not eating in bed, Bridge. I have to sleep here. I don't want to sleep in crumbs. 

So don't. 

Then grab my shirt and come sit at the table. 

No, I mean don't sleep here. Come sleep with me. 

He smiles ruefully and says he doesn't think Loch or Ben would like that, or Sam. How will Sam feel if he just shows up?

Sam isn't there every night. I frown.

Oh. I thought he was. 

Well, he isn't and I think three is always a perfect number. 

I think Lochlan is generous in a way I wouldn't be. 

(Pretty sure Jacob said the exact same thing about Cole once.)

Take advantage of him, then. I dare August but he catches on fast.

If you need me you know where I'll be. He comes back to the bed and gives me an upside-down kiss. No smile, just ferocity.

Would you change your mind?

Doubt it, Heartache. 

That's not a nickname. Please don't.

Offering your bed is not an option. If you need me you can come to me. The moment I come to you I've lost control. 

Oh. It's an ego thing. 

Everything is an ego thing here, Bridget. You think I'm so removed that I'm not impacted by this? I'm right in the middle of it. 

So what do you want me to do? 

Come and eat your bagel, he says, and smiles again.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Terrible boys.

Bridget, you've cultivated a lifetime of impressive romantic gestures from more than one admirer. Don't settle for an ice-cold peanut butter sandwich and some magic tricks as the best, because it isn't. It doesn't even register.

(I'm going to point out the fact that the Devil is jealous. And I'll point out that's all I'm going to say about it because if I actually open my mouth to reply to him directly, my face will come apart at the hinge and a million angry bees are going to fly out.)

***

It's sunny! I've been annoying everyone by singing Fireflies at the top of my lungs but in different voices all morning long.

So far I've been offered cash, a good hard beating and a...a....dick in the mouth to make me stop.

I'm still singing, for the record.

The dick offer didn't alarm me as much as the beating one. If you only knew what offer came from which boy, I think you'd be surprised.

I haven't had a cookie in ten days. I haven't had more than five hours of sleep across any of those nights either. I'm currently treading coffee and hoping to keep my head above the surface as long as I can.

But did I mention it's sunny?

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Peanut butter kisses.

I'll show you fire, he said.

I didn't think it was a reference to anything other than his temper, his frustration with Caleb. It might be easier for me to live with Caleb if I can forgive him but it isn't easier for Lochlan, who struggles constantly with this and I try to make it as easy as I can for him, considering he's now the one shoving me out the door. Get it over with, he says. Have your time and hurry up. I can't breathe without you here. 

And I'll walk across the driveway, trying to keep my heart from cracking in half along the way. 

But I didn't go recently. Haven't gone for a week and won't be going for a bit. The deal is a handful of times a month, and I get to choose. That's the only thing keeping Lochlan from suffocating. The rest of the time I am his. 

Last night he said he had a dinner planned for us. PJ looked after feeding the few who were around. The kids were both at friends' houses and after everyone had scattered back to their comfort zones, Lochlan told me to close my eyes. 

I did with a grin, because I just love surprises. I actually hate them but he's not one to give orders without a good reason so I listened. He bends down and starts to remove my thigh-high socks. I needed them under my dress. It's cold. 

Lochlan! Not in the kitchen!

Not what you think, Peanut. He laughs. I almost lose my balance but he's there to hold. A kiss lands on my mouth and then he struggles with something (his own socks, I learned later) and he takes my hands. Ready? He starts to walk, leading me down the steps to the patio doors and then outside and down the steps into the rain. We're walking in the grass, cold and slippery. He holds tight. I get warmer and suddenly the rain stops. 

Open, he says and I look around. He's brought the small patio table with the umbrella and the outdoor heater all the way out to the camper on the edge of the cliff. The tiny coloured lights are strung all over the place, as always and the table is set for two. 

It's pouring. 

Be right back. Leaving me under the umbrella he dashes into the camper and comes out with a bottle of pop and two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

The stove isn't hooked up, he shrugs. You always liked these. 

Still do. I tell him. We sit across from each other and eat, trying not to smile big peanut butter-teeth obnoxious smiles at each other. Then he goes back to the house, telling me to wait a minute. Stay put. 

The outdoor sound system comes on, flooding the backyard with an old ballad I love. He holds out his hand and I take it and he pulls me out from under the umbrella into the pouring rain. 

To dance.

He puts his arms around me and we sway to the music. No talking, just drowning in each other's arms in the rain. The music is loud. Everything is muted by the rain save for the music.

Except it's cold away from the heater and before the song is halfway through I'm shaking like a leaf, responding to his sparse comments with chattering teeth. Lochlan pauses the dance and heads quickly around the side to the garage. I stand in the rain holding my arms close around me with the music blaring in my ears, soaked to the bone and then he's back with the most spectacular sight I've ever seen. 

He's wearing his top hat and carrying a huge black umbrella. 

The top side of the umbrella is on fire

Safe underneath, he wraps one arm around my waist and holds the umbrella above us. It's warm, but the flames are on the other side. I don't know how long we have before it burns through but honestly I don't think I even care. We just keep dancing as sweet songs keep playing. I ever get a twirl or five, one hand high above my head holding his hand while he holds the umbrella out to one side. 

When we run out of time he dips me low, kissing me hard, tossing the umbrella to one side. There's nothing left of it. He says something, his lips pressed against my ear and I look at him in surprise before he pulls me back in close. We finish the dance as the sixth or seventh song ends before running inside. Rain has become snow, my heart has fused back together again and Lochlan has won the romance wars of my life.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

He gets me (take it any way you want).

The Pacific doesn't want to hear my troubles today. She's busy keeping level, keeping the wind threading through her waves, keeping the tides moving on schedule, keeping small blonde people out of her many leagues.

Little does she know that sometimes, if the wind is blowing, I can't hear her anyway.

Little does she know PJ's holding the ties of my coat today. Even if I got a running start I wouldn't get a drop of saltwater on me. Not today. Not anymore.

Lochlan threatened to bring me a bouquet of french fries today for International Women's Day. I scowled a little, mostly because dinner is already planned and now I can't stop thinking about french fries, but also because I'm not exactly a feminist. I get a little attention for being the female leader of an all-male cult, a female general of an all-male army, a queen bee surrounded by worker bees but all of that is an illusion. I don't run their lives, I stand behind them, letting them fight my battles for me. Sometimes with each other. I promise them things and they turn to each other for comfort when I fail to follow through. I use sex as a reward and attention as a bribe. I fall back too easily on helplessness. I'm not the picture of a strong independent woman.

I need a man.

I need a few of them. More than a few, even.

So if we're celebrating that, have at 'er. Bring on the fries.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Cap-Pelé radio special.

(Nine and fourteen respectively.)

Which way, Peanut? 

I turn and scrape my hair out of my eyes with my fist and with the other I hold up my sucker. My hair blows back, sticking to my sticky face. I have a root beer-flavoured sucker. The very best. Along with the radio playing loudly from the open doors of the camper this is a good day. 

I turn in the other direction and whatever hair isn't stuck flies straight back. I point out straight with my sticky-sucker hand. That way! 

What direction is that? 

Left! I yell. I'm so good at this. 

North or South? 

Um. How do I tell again? 

Use the compass. 

I take the compass but I can't open it. It's now sticky like everything. Lochlan comes over and takes it from me, opening it. He frowns at my sucker and asks why I haven't finished it yet, why I need to wave it around as if I'm a little Napoleon ordering my army over the hill into Moscow.

It takes me longer. I need to find out now who Napoleon is and how I can get my own army to order around. I would order it to answer all of Lochlan's questions. 

Look, here. See the needle? It points north. So we turn until we face north and now tell me which way the wind is blowing. 

Ummmm. I squint at the face of the compass. Then I look back toward the woods. South. 

Good! You need to know orienteering. 

Why? 

So you'll always know where you are. 

Where am I now? I don't get it. 

If you always carry a compass, you can find you way anywhere. 

That seems fake. 

You mean vague. 

Right. Vake. 

I'll teach you more with a map once we get set up. Why don't you go find a hose and clean your hands a bit. 

There's no soap. 

Use a tiny bit of the dirt here. Scrub your hands with it and then when you go rinse them the stickiness will be on the dirt and it will run right off. 

How come you know everything? 

I don't know. I guess I was meant to teach you. 

I want to teach you something! 

Okay. Can I pick?

Of course. Unless I don't know it. 

I wouldn't pick something you don't know. 

What if you suspeck I know something but I really don't and I've been fooling you all along. 

Suspect. With a t at the end. I don't think that's possible though. Why don't you tell me how you know the words to every single song on the radio. 

I listen very hard and I learn them. It's a hobby. 

Can you teach me? 

Sure. Do I have to learn more orange...orangineering?

Orienteering. Yes. These are life skills. 

So are song lyrics. 

Do you think song lyrics are going to save your life someday? 

Definitely. 

Monday, 6 March 2017

Schrödinger's princess.

Yesterday turned sunny and warm. Most of the snow melted, Lochlan only took Caleb to the ground once (okay twice) but again they worked it out, his time Lochlan reminding Caleb that he's only doing this for me, anyway, and Caleb said that was fine, he was only playing along until I see the light anyway, and they walked away from each other with a fresh coat of rage coloring the whole world red again. Red like the Devil and red like Lochlan. They're perfect for each other.

But today isn't red, today is black like the clouds above the point, especially the little cloud above my head, the blackest one of all. The snow and rain is coming now and there's nothing I can do to stop it so instead I will wait it out. I went with Duncan and PJ to fetch groceries this morning and we are stocked and ready once again for whatever mother nature wants to throw at us. 

I finished and filed and paid (fuuuuuck) the taxes for everyone and today I know how a helium balloon feels, floating high away from earthly constraints. Not even these dark clouds can keep me down since that huge chore is done. It's a relief like nothing else and every year I say I'm gonna hand it off next year but then I don't because I'm a control freak when it's something easy, even if it's tedious and maddening the way it is. 

I never learn, that's why. That's the reason for a lot of things but since this cloud is coming and some sort of freaky extreme weather is on our doorstep I feel like we should have dug a better basement while we had the chance instead of depending on this cool modern mountain chalet with a basement that's only half tucked into the hill, the other half being Duncan and Dalton's gorgeous little garden walkout. 

It's too late now. 

I feel like I should tell you that if you want to sob through the ending of a book, read Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, or Dean Koontz's Sole Survivor (not what you'd expect. A book that broke me.) I feel like I should tell you I had plans, but not what they were, in case the point doesn't break off and sink into an angry sea. I think I should tell you I loved them all so much but always Lochlan best even when we didn't get along which turned out to be fully half the time and that's all my fault. Every time it was my fault because I didn't listen and I didn't know I couldn't hear until it was almost too late. He says it'll never be too late so it's all okay but the damage we did still shows through if we stand in front of a very bright light. 

I feel like I should tell you some of you suck so bad I wanted to stop writing, but I didn't because as much as you complained at me, you kept coming back to read more and that gave me some sort of sick satisfaction I didn't expect. You can never get enough even as I refuse to give it all and I think that's awesome. 

I wish I had known that the song I love so much that Stevie Nicks does for Practical Magic was originally sung by Lindsey Buckingham and is that much better for that fact that I have copies of both of them singing it now. You knew that, you've heard it, Lochlan reminds me. I don't remember some things. I feel like I should have remembered that.

I feel like this is the last day of something. It's never been this dark and I was reading about the chances of a big earthquake and I feel like I want to run and pick up the kids from their school and bring them home and get Schuyler to come home and get Ben to leave his meeting early and fetch PJ from out on the wall where he's testing my theory that new metal songs sound best with headphones standing in the wind facing the sea. (Today the new Pallbearer single, I Saw The End came out. It's glorious.)

YOU'RE RIGHT, he yells to me from the telescope platform, and throws up the horns with both hands. I smile at him but then it blows away as I rush back to the house, where the lights are on and I've brought half the wood inside already, with help from everyone. They couldn't tell me it would probably be just a little rain because this is what it's like inside my brain and no one's ever been able to turn it off. Certain people soothe it, making me a little less frenetic. A little less panicky but sometimes nothing works at all and then they have to pull out the big tricks to bring me around.

Dalton smiles as I come back inside.

Hey, Drama. How about a lunchtime cocktail? 

It's only twelve-thirty, I don't feel like having one this earl-

Tough. Gotta slow you down somehow.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

One week to daylight saving time and I might not make it.

I opened the curtains this morning and yelled MOTHERFUCKER! at the snow falling in thick flakes all over the point. Then I turned to apologize to Sam who was finishing his coffee at the sink. He grinned at me and told me to accept what I cannot change and I said I'm going to move the patio heaters all around the yard today to melt it all. Ben laughed and asked me who was going to move them again since they are exceedingly heavy and hardly as 'portable' as they are advertised to be, and I told him he was. He frowned in mock disappointment and told me to wait a few hours, that the rain will follow the snow and wash it all away.

Oh, great! More rain! This is not mock disappointment from me, but despair.

Bridget-

I'm not complaining! 

Yes, you are. August laughs and then his eyes drop to study his coffee intently when I turn to look at him.

This sucks! I hate winter. I hate rain. 

Tell us how you really feel. Lochlan's going to gang up on me too. Hey, they treat me like a kid I can act like one. February and March are hard months to be a Canadian, probably not for most British Columbians, but I'm not a British Columbian, am I? And this isn't even normal weather for here. I'm beginning to think the snow just follows me around from province to province like a big white annoying shadow.

On the upside, it's light out for almost twelve hours a day now. Right, Bridge?

Did I mention PJ is my favorite? I nod, suddenly comforted. At least that shows me we are indeed still turning toward spring and not stalled out, a big blue ball stuck in space in an endless season all around.

There you go, he says. Stop riling her up, guys. 

We didn't make it snow, it does that on it's own. It's called weather, Ben points out unhelpfully.

Well, it needs to stop that, I tell him.

I'll tell it you said so. 

Thank you!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Thrall.

I am home. Home to sort recycling and turn back into a scullery maid. Off with the diamonds and the Lagavulin and the television that just plays whatever you want it to play and the man who agrees with absolutely everything you say because he had no stake in raising you and therefore is not worried about your manners or your emotional wellbeing or your fears and your dreams alike. Home to the one who worries about everything but who loves in a hard, visceral way, a permanent way, a beautiful way.

Home to a house without birthday cake or the fear that a mood might change or a word might trigger something buried deep underneath. Home where our monstrousness is right up front and we check each other regularly for attitudes and issues. Home is where I crawl back under the microscope, back in front of the two-way mirror, back to the future of the past. Home to relative safety from the demons.

Home.

My demon was very good. On his best behaviour but then at the last minute, this morning when his time was up he tried a half-hearted soft threat that I thought about and then didn't acknowledge. He did though.

This is harder than I thought, Neamhchiontach. Thank you for coming to spend my birthday with me. You are the best present a man could hope for.

I'm a world of trouble.

Not to me. I know how to keep you in line. 

I paused there, not moving, thinking about his words and all of the incredible history between us that between Caleb and Cole made me who I am today. I let it slide. It serves no purpose now.

I'm sorry, Bridget. I just want to keep you here and if you won't-

You know something? I had a wonderful time with you. Thank you for sharing your birthday with me. I kissed his cheek and left him there. This event is too sacred to drag all the mud in behind it. Let's leave it clean.

Friday, 3 March 2017

54. 321.

One of the significant things about Caleb's birthday is that he is the oldest out of everyone and so I spend a lot of time thinking about his age as a number, how he will forever be the oldest and what it will feel like almost a decade from now as I reach those same numbers. I used to think that this age would be old. Washed-up and infirm. Done. Now I think it's hardly started, precious, fleeting and solid gold.

He asked everyone to join him on the beach at sunrise in the pouring rain for a toast, handing out bottles of good champagne but no glasses and so we danced in the deluge and drank straight from the bottle (some had sparkling water) before quieting into a low rendition of Happy Birthday, sung by all. A day that starts off that special will be a good day.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Ice-cold turkeys.

Joel is staying with us for a few days, mostly because I can't seem to regulate the beat of my heart anymore. It's either frighteningly slow or thumping so fast I can't keep up. So I've either spent time crawling inside my own body to trying to outrun it and he's not surprised. That's why he was there in the first place, because drugs don't work for me in the way they're supposed to. They work, they just do it unpredictably and then I quit and coming off is suddenly an issue and I feel like this whole place looks familiar. Ah, there's the sign. It reads SQUARE ONE.

Lochlan and PJ got lectured for letting me once again run the show.

August got lectured for leaving.

Sam got lectured for everything else.

I'm still being lectured. But Joel is doing it graciously. I pointed out he's here under duress anyway because I've quit sugar for Lent and they thought quitting the drugs cold turkey was a bad idea, wait until a few more days without cake go by.

Or cookies.

Or Nutella, straight from the jar with a spoon.

Marshmallow fluff, Lucky Charms, Reeses, Three Musketeers, and sour patch kids. Licorice. I can't have any of it. I can't have a Shamrock shake. I can't have a Peanut Buster Parfait. I can't put sugar in my coffee. I have to face my cravings by praying with Sam, who practically implodes, shaking with silent laughter as he listens to me wax and moan to God that if His Son was so awesome, church would have a dessert bar, and it just might after Easter if we get to vote on the use of the new funding and I'm terrible, I know. I just haven't done this before. Recently, I mean.

But I'm mostly back on track now, just in time for tomorrow's festivities with Caleb, who will be celebrating his fifty-fourth birthday and the only thing he's asked for is the entire day with me.

Maybe someone should warn him.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW OTHER PEOPLE COPE WITH LIFE.

Everyone seems so organized, focused, disciplined, pulled-the-fuck-together and I feel like a haphazard blonde tornado made of anxiety instead of wind. 

CATEGORY FIVE, BABY. 

Fml.