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.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Is endarkenment a thing though?

Big teeth ate all of the big bread and came back for more. It's gone now and tonight is the annual Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner from hell in which I try to feed twenty people pancakes and sausages and by the time I'm dishing up the last few plates the first few are finished, cutting in line for seconds. It's sort of like being a pancake machine and I've threatened more than once to send them all to McDonalds for hotcakes because in case I haven't made it crystal clear, they serve breakfast all day now.

And that's really wonderful.

I organized this Friday too. Made sure I planned ahead, not stepping on any hearts or fingers or toes in the process and it's mildly begrudging anyway and I'm watching that. Caleb's birthday. During Lent. Everything old is new again and then it will be Easter, as soon as we navigate these next forty days of rain. Build me the ark and I'll sail it all the way home, floating on a tidal wave of my fears and daydreams, held back from reaching shore not by a lighthouse but by a net floating free, made of the strong arms of all of these men, who took the bread last night and broke it with their hands, dipping it into the gravy of the stew, talking with their mouths full, rolling their eyes at the comfort of such a meal, content to be together around the big table where there is hardly enough room and yet tonight will be even more crowded still.

What are you giving up for Lent, Bridget? Sam asks. He asks every year as if it's his personal duty to see that you make a worthy sacrifice for Jesus and stick to it. No heathenism on his watch.

Not this, I think to myself but out loud I say Sugar. I've never been able to do it. I love sweet things. Cake. Cookies. Chocolate. This time I have the pantry stocked with protein snacks and the fridge is stuffed full of fruits and vegetables. It's the least I can do, I think. Surely I can navigate forty stupid days. Besides, I'll probably save my own life in the process and be so much healthier-

But then I realize he thinks I mean the other kind of sugar and his face falls before he catches it and rallies round.

That so?

Actual sugar, Sam.

The relief is there behind the mask. That's a good sacrifice, Bridget. I'm proud of you.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Jesus loves you more than you will know.

Poor PJ. It's all Simon & Garfunkel here today. I've got three crockpots going full of beef, potatoes, carrots and garlic and there's two loaves of bread rising in the oven. We'll have beef stew on homemade bread with last summer's pickles and call it supper.

They're positively hovering for this meal hours ahead of schedule and yet Lochlan put on his choice for music today and PJ let him because they all crush on Lochlan and he asks so nicely for things. Ridiculously formally.

(That's a holdover from busking days. He was never that polite on the Midway circuit. He would damn-near goad people into spending money. Provoke them until they suddenly felt they had to prove him otherwise. He was a bully.)

His arm is a bit better. Bone bruises fucking hurt. Hot compresses and pain pills and very little activity are helping. There won't be any wood-chopping, bat-swinging, fist-throwing or holding Bridget up in the air with one arm in the middle of the night either for that matter.

That's okay. Dalton's looking after the woodpile, the bat was hidden ages ago, Caleb currently is on his best, and Ben can hold me up just fine.

I don't think the bread is going to rise. I'm hovering too.

And it's snowing again.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Carnies are better than angels.

Jacob put his lips against my forehead, whispering a prayer as I slept, or pretended to. When he was finished I threw my arms around his neck to keep him there.

Ach, Princess. You're breaking my back. 

Then stand up. 

He laughed and pulled me up against him and then stood up fast. It made me dizzy and I shrieked. He walked us over against the door and slid me up until we were eye to eye. His pale blue eyes were laughing at me.

Now what are you going to do, Piglet? You're stuck here.

I have some ideas. 

Oh yeah? He leans in and kisses me. Nice and hard. I can't breathe. It's just the way I like it. Share a couple with me. 

I think we should have a vacation. 

Where? 

On a beach. 

Which beach?

Any beach. 

Tropical beach? 

No, Canadian beach. 

Why? He laughs.

They're cold. It's what I know. 

This is true. But what are you going to do in the meantime, while you're trapped here? 

I'm going to bless you. 

Okay, I'm ready. 

I reach up to his forehead with one hand and draw a cross on his forehead and I say In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

Thank you, he whispers.

Then a hand gently moves across my face to wrap around my head and pull me to the side and I lash out hard, fighting to stay in the moment but then I open my eyes and Lochlan has me pinned against him so I don't hit him.

Nightmare, Peanut? 

No! I push off from him and sit up.

What was it? 

Nothing. I was just sleeping. Why did you wake me up? 

It's getting late. I thought you might be hungry. 

Won't kill me to miss a meal, Loch! 

It might. Are you even over a hundred pounds? 

Maybe you should keep better track if you guys are going to pour drugs into me that make me have dreams like that! 

Like what? You haven't said anything. You just woke up murderous! 

I'm sorry! I'm just pissed off! 

Then I won't wake you up anymore. 

It's not that! 

Then what is it? I can't fix it if you don't say. 

Stop with the drugs. I don't need to be sedated. 

You panic and-

And you know what to do. This isn't it. I can't take it anymore. 

It's only been a little while, Peanut. Stick it out? 

I can't. It's like my personality has changed and I feel so mad and frustrated all the time and the dreams are killing me and-

Okay they stop right now then. Maybe you won't chew my face off anymore. I just want to see you happy. 

You make me happy. 

I'm so glad to hear that. Sometimes I think the only people you pay attention to are your angels and your devils. It's nice to know I'm in there somewhere. 

His relief made me cry but his hug made me strong. It got tighter and tighter and never stopped until I asked to breathe.

Better? 

I nodded. Yeah. So much better. 

Stick by me? It'll be worth it. He smiled and broke my heart.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

No in-between.

The dead reign in the Godless dark
He wants the pedestal and he's lucky if he gets one night instead. I don't know what he gave me but I like it. I like trying to worry and not being able to. I like not being afraid. I like the sharp clarity of my daydreams and I like that I slept for seven hours straight, here and then woke up without feeling like I needed a running start just to open my eyes. There is noise I can hear save for light rain on the skylights and his quiet, even breathing.

He left a fire burning so I'm not cold this time. No more slip-ups. No more pink pajamas and helpless child-Bridget. No more abject disapproval from the rest. Mild distrust remains and now the only argument fought is over time. It seems as if there is too much. I get into trouble. I can work myself up. I think too hard. I can't distract myself from within boredom. I have too many hours to fill and then suddenly I blink and it's Saturday and there are civilized negotiations (She isn't going to August. I'll burn the loft down and you can take the blame for it but she isn't going. Not today.) and not a moment to breathe.

My tension awakens him and he moves closer without opening his eyes.

You never sleep, he says.

(Observation is the purest form of obsession, I guess.)

No, I say simply.

Why?

Death frightens me. 

What else? 

I shouldn't be here. 

Where should you be? 

Looking after Lochlan. 

He's sleeping too. He needs more sleep to heal. This is a good thing. 

His logic is unarguable. I close my eyes again and he pulls me in tighter. His skin is warm. He tucks his face down against my cheek and my cheek reddens from the razor stubble on his face.

Ow. 

So fragile, he says in almost-sleep.

Grow a beard! I complain and he laughs.

Maybe I will. But then I have meetings and I feel like a savage. 

Savage in a three-piece suit. It's a look, you know-

Aaaaaannnd she's awake. 

Inevitable, Diabhal. 

Like the tides, Neamhchiontach. Run along home and nurse your Dóiteáne back to health. I'll come visit later and bring him some treats. 

French fries? 

What? No. What is with your McDonalds love?

I don't even get fries any more. They have breakfast ALL DAY now, did you know that? 

Yes, you've told me eighteen or forty times. 

Because it's AWESOME.

Friday, 24 February 2017

In the woods by the sea.

(Nothing here is new.)

I'm trying to deep-breath it, trying to find the way back when my mind takes off running down any road that leads to Jake. Trying to separate the man who is here (August) from the man who is not (Jacob) and the extent of what pretending has done for my mental health thus far.

I've been absolved of what they thought was some sort of attempt to drown myself. I just wanted to feel the cold, feel the rain, be near the sea but there's in or out and I screwed up.

And no, Andrew and Christian's little surface love affair (or so they make it out to be) didn't set me off. Something else did. And that's okay. That's going to happen sometimes. I'm going to reel and yaw from things I can't control, things I find, things people say and do. It's how I react that makes the difference.

And I'm a runner.

Flight. I turn and take off. That's the plan. That's been the plan since I was young and it was drilled into my head:

If you get caught, Peanut, break free and run. 

If you feel scared, run and find me. 

If you need me, run and fetch me. 

And then later:

If you feel overwhelmed, running is good to clear your mind. 

And on and on. Now there's only so many places to run, and I am housebound and mostly feverish with cabins and claustrophobia and the general weirdness of being packed into the side of this hill with the parking lot out front and the houses peppered across the hills like afterthoughts and most of the time the beach, the ocean is the only release from that but it's not enough here. I can go down when I need to and survey my flat watery kingdom for miles and then I turn and everything catches up with me.

I made August into a clone of Jacob. I put him up on a pedestal and I demanded things of him he shouldn't have had to deal with and yet he keeps me in check. He pushes me away. He leaves in perfectly healthy intervals and it somehow destroys me, dredging up all of the heavy weight I'm always trying to shrug off so I can just keep running.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Charm and timing too.

On the upside, it wasn't a bone sticking out of Lochlan's sleeve, but the shredded sleeve of the white thermal long-sleeved shirt he was wearing underneath his flannel shirt. His sleeves were mangled as his arm hit the overcropping rock on the way in.

On the downside, he sliced his forearm open quite significantly. The doctor is more worried about infection, concerned as Lochlan holds at 103 degrees and I tried to tell them that's his resting temperature, that he's fire and the doctor just looked at me strange and upped his meds again. Lochlan refuses to get xrays and says his arm is just sore. It's probably broken again so we'll just wait him out.

 I'm being observed as it is because I lost consciousness under water (new personal best). Also I have eleven stitches in my shoulder and three at my hairline because of the same rock.

No one gave me any drugs though. PJ gave me a shot of vodka in the kitchen and then poured one over each wound as he stitched them himself. He asked me twenty questions and decided I didn't have a head injury but in any case I'll be watched closely. PJ should have been a crack ER doctor. Or maybe he is. Really good under pressure. I offered up duct tape and then the staple gun as alternatives to his sewing skills (my skills are better in flesh and in fabric) but he told me to shut the fuck up and take it like a man.

Indeed.

The beach from the driftwood house to the breakwater is off limits to me for life, Sam has been deemed completely compromised (I'll fight this later. It was Dalton who absently told me Cool when I told him I was going to the beach with Ben, who wasn't even home at the time or he would have gone with me whether I wanted him to or didn't) and August says he should have stayed on the East coast longer, as it's so much calmer than this.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Kites.

(Blame was laid thickly yesterday. The shouting carried across the water, fists flew, opinions were shoved to the floor and trampled on, kicked and beaten down. When the breaths came more ragged and the limbs were sore from the fight reason prevailed.

I am the only one at fault. Earn enough trust and become the only word necessary when I tell one that another will join me in my explorations, that everything is fine, that I have my world under control when in truth I'm clinging to the edge with whitened fingertips, feeling pure terror as it speeds up.)

I just wanted some time to myself. Maybe I still had my pride wounded by Christian's stinging words, maybe it's worth more to be able to think for five minutes without someone asking how I am. Maybe time isn't up, maybe there is no measure of time and there doesn't have to be improvement. Maybe I can wallow. Maybe I can just look out at the water and miss Jake without anyone trying to fix it.

I climbed up the rocks to the top and looked out over a roiling grey surface. It's raining. I wobble once and then before the alarm can even register I'm in the sea. On the wrong side of the breakwater where it's deep. I hit my head on the rocks beneath the surface, never even having time to register that I would never be able to defend myself against this. That they would think I did it on purpose. That I probably would have, save for the fact that I can't.

Lochlan hit the water at a thousand miles an hour, they say, drowning his flames, landing directly on me, knocking out whatever breath I had left, lifting me up out of the water with his bad arm before realizing he broke it again on the way in, smashing it hard on the same place I smashed my little head. August took me from Lochlan and then PJ pulled Lochlan out. That was the cold damp flannel. The voice I heard. It was August bringing me back to life while I continued to fight to swim to wherever Jake was, except he isn't there anyway and it was a wasted rescue. Lochlan finally can't take it anymore and shoves in to cradle my head. My eyes are cloudy and red. My throat aches so bad. My limbs feel like concrete. He clutches his arm against his side. There's a bone sticking out of his arm, right through his sleeve. He's bleeding everywhere. PJ swears. Lochlan laughs and swears back. Then he looks down at me again. He isn't laughing.

Where were you going?

I shake my head. It doesn't matter what I say. There's no right answer. Nothing I can say that will save his heart from breaking. Nothing we can do to prevent this inevitable return to form in spite of best efforts. No amount of time is fixing this. Everything is a distraction. Eventually the glare returns and I squint at reality. I can make this Utopia virtually bulletproof and Jacob still kills me every single day.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Life among the dead.

It was the smell that triggered a fresh wave of heartbreak, a nostalgic ache that brought me to the ground where I remained on my knees, wet earth soaking into my skin, no desire to keep moving, no light to do it in.

I sank down into the water as it rose, rushing across the crumbling concrete, bringing with it waterlogged leaves and matchstick branches, washing over the moss in a torrent of spring.

I hear Sam's reminders in my head but they don't mean a thing. These are my tears. I'm going to drown. I can't control this. I can't catch my breath. Can't move. Can't recover. Can't talk myself out of it. Can't wait to die. Can't cope with him not being here. Ashamed of myself. Desperate. Ruined.

I squeeze my eyes closed. It's raining so hard now. Everything is blackened and dim, muted by the storm I made as I lay down with my cheek against the hard surface. My blood pounds against my broken heart in a bid to run but it's rejected out of hand. Water rushes over my mouth and nose. I close my eyes and give in. It's not so cold when you stop fighting. Air is relative if you can't breathe on a perfectly sunny, warm day so what difference does it make if you can't breathe here either. The torrent of water is welcoming, blocking out the rest of the sound and then the light too. Maybe if I wait here long enough I can see Jacob. Just for a minute or two.

I am lifted out of the water violently. I gasp and start to cough and hands pound hard against my back. Jacob is shouting my name. Eventually I stop coughing and all of the water leaves my body just as the shivering kicks in. I am turned back against Jacob's chest, resting my head against icy cold, damp flannel as he asks in his accent thicker than this water, thicker than my blood, why I didn't call someone for help.

Because I wanted you. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

Can't charm them all.

I've known Andrew since I was three years old, and Christian since I was almost as small (since I met Lochlan, Caleb and Christian all on the same night at the street party when I got dinged in the head and ruined someone's street hockey power play.)

The two of them caught up with me last evening. These days I'm probably closer to Christian than to Andrew overall. Andrew exists on the fringe and never says a thing about his love life. I've often worried that he might be turning monkish. Christian has always made a point that his love life was off limits. He said decades ago he wasn't going to mess with me because I'm too much trouble and that he would always and forever function as a big brother, nothing more. He's gotten in trouble for pranking me and he never lets up. He's hard on me because no one else is and silly me, I thought last night might be an exception.

This is none of your business, Bridget. 

Two of my best friends in the world are in love and it's not? We should be celebrating. Also how am I the last one to know.

I just told you. It's none of your business what I do outside of time with you. I live here. I pay rent. That doesn't give you a free window into everything I do.

So we're not friends. I'm just the landlady. 

I didn't say that. But you don't need a front row seat to my private life. 

If you don't tell me you're dating another good friend but the rest of the point knows, then it's withholding on purpose, just from me.  Why? 

Because you romanticize everything. 

Because it's romantic! 

What if it isn't? 

You're going to stand here next to one another and tell me you're casually hooking up. You're going to dismiss all of the attraction, the emotion that put you together in the first place. 

Sometimes it is what it looks like. 

It looks to me like you're falling in lo-

Bridget, stop it! Accept that people just do things. Like you and Duncan. Are you in love with him? 

Of course I am. 

Then you're different than every other person on this earth.

He tried to soften the whole thing with a hug but I was a stiff as a board and in tears. I don't know what's wrong with me but apparently it's wrong. If it is, I don't ever want to be right. Also it really really sucks to be on the outside.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Closet Jesus.

Must be Sunday, and I'm still somewhat surprised.

At Sam as he's gone from an emotional riptide sort of person to centered and together. Calm. Methodical. relaxed. Oddly fine. Gone is the vunerability, the shakiness, the heart on his sleeve. He's just Sam again. Like he was in the beginning. A mystery. A kind one, mind you but somewhere after Jake he let me in, let me see everything, even right through him sometimes and now he's the voice of reason after being a liability for years. Interesting. He gave a rip-roar of a sermon this morning but I was looking out the window at the rain and thinking very hard and missed the message for you.

Lochlan made a few great guesses about things like sexual orientation, second puberty and midlife crises, maybe it was a combination of all three but as much as I love blown-apart Sam for his honesty, I adore in-charge Sam because I have a thing for authority in God form.

I guess that's what you'd call it. I don't know. I tune out sometimes when I should probably pay attention to things going on around me.

After we got home from early church I went over to give Andrew a game that he wanted to borrow from Henry's playstation. Bloodborne or something I think and as per tradition, I neither knocked nor rang a bell. I let myself in with the key they gave me, announced myself a few times as the house was quiet and went upstairs. I knocked on Andrew's door twice softly. He never answered so I opened it, intending to wake him up (it's after eleven and he is not a sleeper) and leave the game on his nightstand. I've known Andrew my entire life, from diapers but apparently I didn't know him at all.

He wasn't there so I left the game on his perfectly-made bed and came back out, closing the door again behind me, just as Christian's door opened and Andrew came out in his robe.

AH. Hey, Bridget. (Too bright.)

Morning. I left the game for you. It's on your bed. Sorry, I thought you'd be up by now. 

Oh. Yes, I am. I'm up, I mean.

Then Christian comes out behind Andrew in his robe too. He won't look me in the eye for a long minute before he says good morning. He doesn't need to. I think I understand.

Okay then. Holy shit.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

On the phone with the Devil on a Saturday morning.

Had a brain skip this morning, attributing a piece by Blake to Burroughs. Lochlan snorted (he taught me all these words that I love so) and then apologized because I was still under the influence. I told all this to Caleb on the phone, as I slept in and was loathe to move.

Of whom? 

Huh?

Who's influence were you under? Lochlan's or maybe Sam's? 

Drugs. It was the drugs. 

I believe your drugs are men. 

You aren't wrong but I can't take a man to get a good night's...oh, wait. You're right. I can totally do that. 

Why is Sam taking up space meant for me? 

There's enough space to go around. I mean just look up. So much of it is empty. I mean, when you think about it, the stars are fairly small so it's just....well...space. Empty space. No air, right so...space. 

Bridget, what is wrong with you? 

Well, if I had taken a man or two last night instead of those stupid pills I would be able to think properly. 

Where on earth is your husband?

Sleeping. 

He does that a lot. What about Ben? 

He was working downstairs. 

Sam?

He's not here every night, you know. 

I wish I had known. I could have entertained you. 

I told you, I was drugged. Or rather, I took something to sleep. Well, PJ gave it to me. I had to ask. Then it went to a committee vote. 

What a waste of a night. 

Oh, no it wasn't. We need more sleep. 

You could have come over before it took effect. 

No, because Lochlan sleeps with his arms..well, I mean, I'm..I can't get away from him in his sleep. He holds on very tightly. I love it, actually. 

Being trapped and drugged by your husband? 

You make it sound so awful. Someone giving you a sleep aid and holding you close while you both sleep is the most romantic thing in the world. 

Until I do it. 

Yes, until you do it. Then it's a sinister kidnapping adventure. 

I'm sorry, what did you call it? 

Nothing. I said I should go now, I have to call my sister.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Lightyears and longhauls.

Sam put a Jesus fish sticker on my Porsche.

(Caleb was unimpressed.)

I woke up with a fourth today as the horizontal parade renews itself with some sort of merit-based system that finds the baby preacher in the big bed upstairs..more often than not. His huge wing is sort of upstairs anyway (well, halfway between the top floor and the main floor) but you have to go all the way to the other side of the top floor, through a set of french doors, down some steps and around a corner. Our room has it's own wing with closets outside the door and inside the room too and then past ours the children share a wing with yet another bathroom between their rooms.

Sam has been a security blanket since the day Jacob left and now with August away too I'm holding on so tightly he wasn't allowed to do anything but come with me. We have room. They love him too.

He mentioned something about Grace in the dark. Grace is an excuse. I keep thinking it means to act up now and make up later with no recourse because God still loves you even if you're a big jerk. He keeps telling me it means God loves you in spite of your bad choices and you should work to earn that love. To be worthy

What does that make this? I ask and he asks if we can not have this conversation right now. Instead he kisses my shoulder and puts his head down against mine. Lochlan stirs in his sleep and Sam reaches across me to rest his hand against Lochlan's shoulder. Not so much a romantic gesture, more of a spiritual one, blessing him so that Lochlan will be as open with his faith as he is with his wife and his bed.

(I'm not the prize here, I'm a means to an end. Or maybe I'm the end of his rope. I was hoping I would be the apple of his eye and then God would notice me.)

Sam's going to save everyone. I know it. It's why Jacob left him for me. It's why I can't make him leave and instead he's becoming such a huge part of my life it's hard to see past him. It's hard to separate the message from the messenger. I don't think this is a bad thing. He holds back sometimes because he thinks it is. It causes arguments and ruffles feathers and turns freaks into ascetics and vice versa but at the same time at the bottom of this hole, at the end of the long dark night it's necessary, but it's not evil in nature. It's a foundation we were looking for, one we destroyed and one we're trying to learn how to rebuild together. Even Ben likes having him here but Ben likes having everyone here as long as it makes me feel better.

Maybe he should put the Jesus fish on my forehead. It's shiny and I'd get noticed for sure and maybe even get a little Grace for myself.

You have it already, Sam says sleepily. Twenty bucks says under those lids his eyes are rolling.

Liar! I whisper.

Lochlan stirs in the new day. Shhh, Fidget. Sleep s'more. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Maudlin baby bright.

The running joke around the house these days is that English is my second language. Fun fact: it actually is, in written/read form. Who knew?

Well, everyone here did but you didn't. I learned to read and write in French before English. I pronounce many words rather creatively as a result and can't spell a lot of words that I should have no problem with save for they're in English and needlessly complicated. I also have good working use of several other completely useless but crushingly romantic languages from which to choose though most of the time I'm a mumbling, silent and mostly completely oblivious little shit.

(That last part is Dalton's depiction of me. It's not wrong so in it stays.)

The joke came from the fact that something's happened at Apple and we can no longer text each other with ease. I think it's from the last update but I used to be able to mash the keyboard and it would spit out exactly what I needed to say without me having to spell or fix a thing. Now it just sends gibberish. It's so awful it's become funny. Caleb implores me to go back to the Blackberry but the iphone is still more fun overall, even in spite of the virtually unusable keyboard. And I have tiny fingertips. Imagine the boys with their big paws.

This isn't even the main part of my post and I'm already rambling. Christ.

***

This is how I know he's not going to work with them. He's going to hold his own instead. 'His own' being me.

He slides a small box across the table after our plates have been cleared.

Diabhal-

Neamhchiontach, this is how it works. If we are in a sanctioned, public relationship, I'm permitted to give you gifts. 

Yes, but-

And just because he doesn't have the means I do doesn't mean I need to procure anything less than what I would chose for you any other time. I'm not going to bring down my levels to his simply because that's where he is. That doesn't make any sense. 

Well, you also can't leapfrog over-

Just open it, Babydoll. Please. 

I follow every direction he gives me. Always have (Hands behind your back, Neamhchiontach).  Inside is a beautiful necklace. Gold with a tiny heart-shaped frame filled with a pale green faceted stone attached to the chain on both sides of the tiny heart rather than from a single apex at the top. It's very delicate and beautiful. The nicest shade of pale emerald. Almost sage.

It is an emerald, he confirms. Probably worthless now that I've had it cut but it suits you. 

Oh. This is- Wow. 

Do you think it's too much, and Lochlan is going to pitch a fit? 

He will. 

Then send him my way and I'll explain. I want you to wear it, Neamhchiontach. Wear it because it's your heart instead of someone else's. Wear it in the garden, in the sea, in his arms and in mine. Keep it on. 

He stood up and came around the table, taking the necklace from me, attaching the clasp behind my neck.

It brings out the colors in your butterflies.

I look down and I see tattoos but I can't see the necklace and that's funny.

I like seeing you happy. 

You're behaving. 

It shouldn't be contingent on me. 

My face falls. But it is. This is by your design, Diabhal. 

Then we'll rework it for today and tomorrow. This can be the first day. 

That was in August.

That wasn't me.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

About last night.

We didn't get our romantic dinner for three. I went under thanks to some mixup in communication over when I had last been medicated and missed the night completely. I woke up and my dress and shoes were still ready to go in the door of the closet.

Lochlan forfeited a princely sum to cancel the reservation on short notice and so Ben sprang for a pizza which they ate together while watching movies with PJ and Sam, while I snoozed upstairs. Someone came up every hour to check on me just in case but I wasn't in danger, I just fall asleep if the last dose hasn't worn completely off by the time I get a new one.

Sigh.

No amount of begging on my part has allowed for a do-over in spite of the fact that it wasn't even my fault, as I don't get to dispense my own meds anyway. So I don't get my fancy Valentine dinner, didn't get any pizza, and didn't get to wear that red dress.

Caleb was happy to offer to fly me somewhere (my choice) for a romantic belated dinner. I rolled my eyes and told him he isn't allowed to preempt anyone who lives in the house.

PJ showed me his Tinder date that never happened. She was barely a she, he said, and he got spooked and left her (him?) sitting at the bar. Says he lives with enough guys to know a guy when he sees one, and is giving up on finding a date for any holiday forever.

I pointed out how cute Sam is and PJ threw a piece of toast at me. Crabby Paddy.

(He threw it underhand, at least. That's important in this house. The throwing technique signifies intent. Underhand is mildly annoyed. Overhand is downright rage.)

Sam pointed out that PJ is indeed cute but his behaviour yesterday morning wasn't cute or helpful. PJ offered to suck his dick for him (gross and also only a joke) to make it up to him. Sam declined.

(I didn't expect him to decline that, in spite of it not being a serious offer or the least bit civilized. Oh well. The things you hope for when you're trapped in a house with a bunch of manboys.)

August got an update and threatened to fly back. From now on only PJ is allowed to dispense anything for anyone, no matter what.

PJ asked for a raise.

I gave him one. Happy belated Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Cole-fired furnace.

Trying to make it to six pm. I woke up on the wrong side of myself and can't seem to get my act together. By nine Ben stepped in with fresh arms, a Xanax for me to take and an offer to go hang out in the sauna for a little while and then get ready for the day. I snapped at PJ, hung up on Caleb, cried for Lochlan to hurry up and come home and then the pill kicked in or the heat or maybe the coffee and I feel like a turtle now, only with a mild undercurrent of screaming noises dulled by every other effort to see this through.

Caleb came over when he saw us heading back to the house in our pool robes.

Everything okay?

Bad day, I tell him. I'm so informative. Useful. My lip is quivering and I'm trying not to cry and I just want to curl up and dissolve. Ben hasn't let go and won't let go. Lochlan's working double-speed and trying to call in reinforcements. PJ deservedly told me to go fuck myself and took off for the day, since it's Valentine's Day and he was put off to begin with and Sam is hovering like a bumblebee, trying to be near if we need him and away if we don't. August left for the East Coast before the storm. Duncan and Dalton are probably both sleeping.

And I have lost my mind.

Maybe we should watch a television show, maybe distract her just a little bit. 

Too far for that now, Ben says quietly, as if I'm not even present.

You need to go. You look too much like your brother today, I tell Caleb. Part of this was a valentine memory that came raging back at me in my dreams last night and I woke up unsettled and afraid, dreading breathing. Dreading standing up. Ben's policy is one foot in front of the other. One day at a time. One hour at a time. One minute at a time.

Caleb nodded at Ben and Ben tightened his hold on me and I asked if we could have a walk on the beach once we got ready.

See if I let you out of the shower, Ben smiles. He's up to no good. He's the king of distractions and sometimes immersion. Whatever works. Get through it and then figure out what it was and what worked or didn't but right in the middle is not the time and while that seems incredibly logical, no one else subscribes to that method and so he's just as thrilled to be taking charge and I'm grateful it's him and not Lochlan, honestly. Lochlan takes it personally. He takes everything so hard.

The shower was long and hotter than the sauna by far. I felt like I couldn't get enough air and Ben held me tight, washing my hair from within his arms, scrubbing me all over and then lifting me up against the wall. His visceral distractions worked wonders and by the time he switched us to cooler water so we could rinse I felt somewhat renewed. I need sleep and maybe a stiff drink but I don't feel like the world is coming apart at the seams right this minute. We went down to the beach, joined by Caleb again (to prove he's no one but himself) and by Christian, who said I was fast and tricky and Ben puts too much faith in my promises while Christian always expects me to run right off the rocks. So all three hovered while I bent low at the water's edge to find a few treasures but it was suddenly cold and I didn't want them to worry so much so we came back up quickly enough. Then Ben went to a meeting and left me with Sam (because I had to ask Caleb to go again) and Christian for a bit and I mostly read while they ignored me, ears open, ready to move but otherwise content to catch up with each other.

I fell asleep halfway down every page but I stopped thinking about Cole and then Jake too and by the time I finished the chapter Lochlan was back and promising that from now on he'll wake me up before he leaves, that he can make sure I'm okay before he's gone off somewhere. I try to tell him that Ben did really good, that Ben always does well with me but Lochlan's guilt won't let him listen hard enough. He holds me close and then shakes Ben's hand when Ben comes back and they both say that dinner will be fun, that the day will get better. That nervous fake assurance that no one ever believes but everyone invokes all the same. Maybe it works anyway.

I know it will. It already has, actually. I just wish my brain had an off-switch, and that my memory had cloud storage. So I could keep it all offsite until I decided that I wanted something, instead of being ambushed by it.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Troika.

Lochlan said he's made reservations for tomorrow night at a very romantic restaurant. For three of us! Yeah!

I thought our romantic dinner was last evening.

What? No, that was our Nostalgic dinner.

Ah. I was wondering why you cut up my chicken for me. 

I did that because bowls and knives don't usually work well together. 

Lochlan, I'm forty-five. 

Don't remind me. 

Someone should. 

You want to go out for Valentine's Day or not? 

I do! I'm excited. Are we dressing up? 

If you like. 

Does Ben know? 

Yes, he and I chose the restaurant together. 

I smile.

You're excited, Peanut. 

Of course I am! When we get formal, I know we're serious. 

Then we'll dress to the nines. Although I don't think my wardrobe goes past seven. Maybe six and a half.

Wear your top hat. Then it all goes to eleven. 

Let's dress to the eight-and-three-quarters. Then we're safe. 

But will you wear the hat?

If you want me to. 

Of course I do. Jesus. Have you met me? I love that hat. 

Yeah, you're the only girl who ever did. 

Is that why you married me? 

Of course it is. That and you make me look positively normal in comparison. 

So you think, Lochlan. 

I don't look normal? 

The question is, do you feel normal? 

Hardly never, Peanut. 

Then there's your answer.