Originally published online June 15, 2015
This is a follow-up to one of my earliest short stories, “A Conversation,” which can be found in the free “ten tiny tales”
Goodbyes are never easy.
I was enjoying one of those rare times when the words were flowing effortlessly from my fingers onto my keyboard, when she appeared. My Muse. She behaved differently this time, however. Before, she would immediately vie for my attention and interrupt whatever it was I happened to be doing, often to my embarrassment.
This time, she walked up behind me, peered over my shoulder at my computer screen, let out a ‘humph’ and walked away. Moments later, I could hear a fingernail impatiently tapping on the armrest of a nearby chair.
I did my best to ignore her and continue working, but when the personification of inspiration appears as a beautiful woman, it’s a nearly impossible task. I am but a man, after all. I sighed, stopped what I was doing, turned around in my chair, and said “Hi.”
Feigning surprise, she asked: “Oh, are you talking to me?”
“Well, yeah. It’s been a while.” I shrugged.
“Well, I don’t think you’re happy to see me,” she replied. The Muse was doing her best to sound angry, but there was a hint of sadness in her voice.
“It’s not that.” I answered, trying to choose my words carefully. “It’s just that writing has come really easy for me as of late and I haven’t had to call on you like before.”
“I know.” She whimpered. “You don’t need me anymore.”
I paused, unsure of what to say next. I had a feeling she was right. At the same time, I hoped that she was wrong. I sat and looked at her. She looked back at me with pleading eyes, waiting for an answer. Tears began to well in her eyes once she realized one wasn’t forthcoming.
“I knew it. You’re done with me.” She sniffled, wiping at now-falling tears. “I knew this day would come. It often does: A mortal’s cries for help become fewer and fewer until they inevitably stop.”
I stood up, walked over to her and dropped to one knee so I could look her in the eyes. “Yes, but isn’t that a good thing? I mean, if you don’t have to help me out, doesn’t that mean you can inspire other people?”
“Yes, but we Muses often grow attached to those we serve. Saying farewell is not something we look forward to.” She answered, softly.
“Nobody does.” I pondered. “There will always be a part of you in everything that I do. I couldn’t have gotten this far without your help, after all. And who knows? I may have to call upon you for help again someday.”
“And I’ll be there…sooner or later.” She winked, the familiar smile returning to her face.
We embraced. Time came to a standstill as we held each other in an embrace that was heartfelt and bittersweet at the same time. “Farewell, my Muse.” I whispered, eyes closed. I released her and opened my eyes. She was gone from my sight, but not from my heart. I sighed and walked back to my desk. I felt a little sad for her, but I was also glad that I had matured to the point where I no longer needed her assistance.
I sat down, put my hands back onto the keyboard, and…nothing. I read and re-read the last paragraph I had typed before her interruption. Nothing came to mind. The previously-copious flow of words had stopped, and I was left staring at the screen. As I had done so many times before, I banged a fist onto my desk and yelled: “MUUUUSE!”